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Canada to Revisit Discrimination Against Large Passengers

The Supreme Court of Canada is forcing the Canadian Transportation Agency to revisit a 2014 decision that Delta Air Lines does not discriminate against “large” individuals. The agency must now re-evaluate a complaint filed on behalf of a flyer who claimed the airline’s large flyer policy went too far.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) must revisit a four-year-old decision regarding Delta Air Lines’ “large passenger” policy, after the nation’s highest court returned the case for not evaluating all of the facts. The Globe and Mail reports the Supreme Court of Canada returned the decision on a 6-3 vote, and must once again look into the 2014 grievance.

The original complaint was filed by Gabor Lukacs on behalf of a flyer who questioned Delta’s “large individual” policy. After the flyer sent feedback to the airline over sitting alongside bigger people, a customer service representative responded with an outline of their policies.

In the document, Delta noted that their plans may include asking large flyers to move to the back of the aircraft, or take a later flight to comfortably accommodate everyone. In addition, Delta noted that they also suggested flyers of size purchase two seats in order to ensure the comfort of themselves and those around them.

The CTA’s original decision claimed that Lukacs’ grievance was unmerited, because he was not personally affected, nor does the case fit the public interest. The decision went on to say that unless Lukacs was overweight, he could not claim to have been affected.

In the decision, judges wrote that by dismissing this grievance, the CTA has the potential to dismiss “potentially high relevant complaints.” Those on the dissenting side noted in their opinion Lukacs complaint had “no underlying facts, no representative claimants and no argument.” When it is reviewed by the CTA for the second time, the agency must consider every facet of the issue, including that of standing based on the complainant.

This is the second successful appeal of the CTA decision in court. In 2016, the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal upheld Lukacs’ grievance, sending it back to the transportation agency for review. Delta appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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FlyerJ January 24, 2018

Just to be clear . . . this isn't about "large" passengers. It's about "fat" passengers. There's a difference. If you're a tall person, airlines in Canada are free to 'discriminate' against you. Air Canada Rouge, for example, has been quite clear in saying that - if you're tall, and you want to fit in one of their sardine cans - you are required to pay extra for either the (very limited availability) extra legroom seating or pay for their J class. That's it. Case closed. If one is fat, though, Canada views that as a 'disability' or physical handicap. In some cases, it certainly is. But most obesity is due to dietary choice, not a true underlying medical issue. When it comes to fat fliers, Canada has adopted a 'one person, one fare' rule -- as long as you're fat (but not tall), the airline has to give you a seat (or seats) that will fit you without making you pay extra. Air Canada and WestJet both said they'd comply as long as fat passengers provided a doctor's note confirming that their size was due to a true, underlying disability. That caused panic and furor, with one advocate saying that was mean, and would cause fat people to be ashamed and not let them fly with dignity. Being tall isn't a 'disability' and a tall person absolutely cannot change their size. So expect to pay up if you want to fit in a 29" pitch seat or if you want to avoid physical discomfort. Suck it up, large (tall) people. Being fat, however, is deemed a disability ... even though it's curable in most cases through dietary change. It would be mean to require someone who can't fit in a seat to buy a second seat, or to move to another spot on the plane so that your neighbours can actually use their seat. So the Canadian government demands that airlines give fat people more space for no additional cost. (Can you tell that I'm tall?)