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Air Transat Held Responsible for Stranding Flyers

Roughly $232,000 in fines levied over delayed flight incidents in July 2017.

The Canadian Transportation Administration (CTA) ruled Air Transat must pay over $232,000 in fines and restitution to passengers who called 911 to get help after their flight was delayed over 90 minutes. In a statement, the CTA found the airline did not meet their obligations to provide passengers relief once the flight was rerouted and grounded due to a storm in July 2017.

The flights – Air Transat Flight 157 and Air Transat Flight 507 – were rerouted to Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW) after a storm prevented them from completing their international itineraries. During the ground stop, passengers say they were stuck for over six hours aboard the aircraft, at one point calling emergency numbers to request help. Passengers later told their stories in testimony to the CTA, describing sweltering heat, no water available, and claiming the carrier “didn’t care what condition [they] were in.”

As a result, the CTA ruled that Air Transat violated their own conditions of carriage by not providing passengers the opportunity to deplane or provide snacks and water after the delay exceeded 90 minutes. Additionally, the governing body found the airline was not relieved of their obligations because of airport or customs concerns, nor the fact that a storm forced them to land. Finally, the airline’s “Force Majeure” rule was unreasonable, because it put too much responsibility on the pilot and was “broadly worded.”

Air Transat will be forced to pay at least $232,000 in fines and restitution, including compensation to every flyer on their two delayed flights. The airline will also be required to improve their “Force Majeure” clause and change their international conditions of carriage, reflect their U.S. airport contingency plan, which includes mandatory deplaning after four hours (“unless there are safety, security, or air traffic control issues that prevent it), updates every 30 minutes, working lavatories and medical assistance.

Air Transat acknowledged the decision by the CTA in a press release and will comply with the order. The airline is also offering $500 to every passenger affected, in consideration of the sums already paid to flyers.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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Counsellor December 4, 2017

Good on ya, CTA! Too bad our DOT isn't similarly caring about passengers. It's long past time for the US to have a rule similar to that in the EU holding airlines responsible for treatment of PAX.