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Question about Air Canada and Small Claims Court

Question about Air Canada and Small Claims Court

Old Apr 13, 20, 7:48 pm
  #1  
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Question about Air Canada and Small Claims Court

Good Day All,

Long time reader, first time posting. I have a scenario, which I won't describe in detail (yet) on a public forum, however, I believe I am owed compensation from Air Canada for being denied boarding for a flight. I've contacted their customer service and have had multiple interactions, however, I have not had any success with their customer service in this regard.

I'm a fairly frequent flier with AC (multiple SE, nothing lower than 35k in the last 8 years, ~500k miles in that time) and have had very little issues with AC, however, I feel they are very off the mark in this case. I've done a bit of a search through the forum but only found older information before the new passengers rights laws were implemented. Does anyone here have any experience with this they wouldn't mind discussing, sharing in the forum or discussing privately?

Things like:
What is the process like in small claims court?
Is it generally worth pursuing?
If I decided to proceed, should I actively inform AC customer service of the intent?
etc.

Input is appreciated.
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Old Apr 13, 20, 8:23 pm
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Try this:

I am fed up with Air Canada and I am suing them
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Old Apr 13, 20, 8:29 pm
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What is the process like in small claims court?
Varies by province. If you're in BC, you can use the Civil Resolution Tribunal which is all online and quite simple.

Is it generally worth pursuing?
Only you can really answer that. There are fees on the order of a couple hundred dollars involved and you can expect to spend a significant amount of time researching and drafting your arguments. Since we are talking about denied boarding comp, I'll infer that the amount of money involved is not more than $2,400. Personally, I've spent hundreds of hours on a $5,000 dispute and in retrospect it probably wasn't worth the hassle even though I did win.

f I decided to proceed, should I actively inform AC customer service of the intent?

I cannot see any benefit to telling them that you're going to take legal action prior to serving the actual legal notice under whatever procedures your court or tribunal requires. If nothing else, they probably won't correspond with you any further after that.
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Old Apr 13, 20, 8:38 pm
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The process for small claims ( and the claim limits) are different for each province. Usually they are fairly well laid out on the website of the court in your province.

Only you can say if it is worthwhile pursuing, but if you are getting stonwalled by AC and you believe you have a case, that tilts it in the balance of doing further research. Make sure you do your research and have understood the applicable laws and possible applicable decisions of the CTA before you proceed.

If you do decide to go to court, you will inform AC by serving them notice that you have filed a lawsuit against them. It's pointless to talk to customer service at that stage. The courts website will give guidance on the procedure needed to serve the other party. Although for the foreseeable future, I expect the courts are closed.
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Old Apr 13, 20, 8:48 pm
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Originally Posted by Sopwith View Post
Try this:
Thanks. I did read this thread. There was some helpful information but the different circumstances (double charge vs denied boarding) led me to post this.

Originally Posted by eigenvector View Post
Varies by province. If you're in BC, you can use the Civil Resolution Tribunal which is all online and quite simple..
I'm in Moncton. I'll have to do some digging on whether it can be done online or not.

Originally Posted by eigenvector View Post
Only you can really answer that. There are fees on the order of a couple hundred dollars involved and you can expect to spend a significant amount of time researching and drafting your arguments. Since we are talking about denied boarding comp, I'll infer that the amount of money involved is not more than $2,400. Personally, I've spent hundreds of hours on a $5,000 dispute and in retrospect it probably wasn't worth the hassle even though I did win.
I was hoping I may get this response, which I think is valuable. Did you do everything yourself, or did you use a lawyer? I assume you did all the legwork yourself if you're referring to hundreds of hours.

Really, as much as I think I deserve the compensation I would really only be interested in it as a matter of principal.

Did you end up going to court or did they settle out of court?

Originally Posted by eigenvector View Post
I cannot see any benefit to telling them that you're going to take legal action prior to serving the actual legal notice under whatever procedures your court or tribunal requires. If nothing else, they probably won't correspond with you any further after that.
I was waffling about this. One side was thinking that telling them may sort of grab their attention and maybe pass it along to someone with a bit more clout rather than going to court, but the flip side, as you mention may be more likely.
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Old Apr 13, 20, 8:58 pm
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Can you provide a bit more details about the situation? "Is it generally worth pursuing?" is a tough one.

There are MANY times people come on FT and say "I was denied boarding but they didn't pay me", and then it turns out they did not meet all the requirements (such as the cause being an overbooking).

If you have a case, I strongly encourage you to pursue it. But most people who talk about suing AC simply do not have a winnable case.
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Old Apr 13, 20, 9:21 pm
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Originally Posted by dceenb View Post
Thanks. I did read this thread. There was some helpful information but the different circumstances (double charge vs denied boarding) led me to post this.



I'm in Moncton. I'll have to do some digging on whether it can be done online or not.



I was hoping I may get this response, which I think is valuable. Did you do everything yourself, or did you use a lawyer? I assume you did all the legwork yourself if you're referring to hundreds of hours.

Really, as much as I think I deserve the compensation I would really only be interested in it as a matter of principal.

Did you end up going to court or did they settle out of court?
Sorry for being unclear, the dispute I'm talking about wasn't with AC. Just a general perspective on small claims disputes. I didn't use a lawyer and while the process was pretty straightforward, the other party filed a small mountain of mostly irrelevant evidence and a lot of time was spent reviewing and responding to it.
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Old Apr 13, 20, 9:27 pm
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
Can you provide a bit more details about the situation? "Is it generally worth pursuing?" is a tough one.

There are MANY times people come on FT and say "I was denied boarding but they didn't pay me", and then it turns out they did not meet all the requirements (such as the cause being an overbooking).

If you have a case, I strongly encourage you to pursue it. But most people who talk about suing AC simply do not have a winnable case.
I felt that simply liking this post wasn't a strong enough endorsement. dceenb , you sound more rational than most people who talk about (well, usually rant about) suing AC, and perhaps we do have an IDB situation, but when people talk about IDB, it almost always turns out not to have been once we actually get the details.
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Old Apr 13, 20, 9:28 pm
  #9  
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
Can you provide a bit more details about the situation? "Is it generally worth pursuing?" is a tough one.

There are MANY times people come on FT and say "I was denied boarding but they didn't pay me", and then it turns out they did not meet all the requirements (such as the cause being an overbooking).

If you have a case, I strongly encourage you to pursue it. But most people who talk about suing AC simply do not have a winnable case.
I don't mind. Some details altered slightly (Flight numbers, locations and dates)

The situation is as follows:

I was taking a flight from an YVR to YYZ on Feb 16, 2020 and the departure of the flight was delayed which was initially described on the plane as late arriving passengers from another airport (and confirmed by Customer Service Representatives in YYZ) and noted in my Air Canada application as “This flight is delayed to accommodate late arriving customers” (I have screenshots)

In transit between YVR and YYZ, my booking was changed (unbeknownst to me and I did not check due to the tight arriving connection), we had a tight connection, but various individuals from the flight (approximately 5-7 of us) all made it to the gate to board flight to YQM with “Final Call” displaying on the screen. The Gate Agent was not expecting us and informed us that if we had checked baggage (which I did) we would not be able to board due to safety concerns, and they would not let me board even though I had a ticket with an assigned seat. Some individuals without checked bags boarded with no issues. According to FlightRadar, my flight arrived in YYZ at 7:42am (Gate 33) and my connecting flight (at Gate 38) had an actual departure of 8:14am with take off at 8:33am (original time of departure was intended to be 08:10am)

After conversations with Customer Service, I am rerouted home and arrive at my destination approximately 5 hours later – however, with one final surprise, my checked baggage had made it before me- which I was not allowed to board since my luggage would not travel with me. I was first off the plane and into the luggage area and it was already at the customer service baggage booth. There was no quicker way to YQM than what I took to get there, confirmed by customer services agents). I submitted a request for compensation to Customer Service. They responded and they provided a table to me with which outlined that my YVR to YYZ was delayed because: “This flight was delayed due to customer processing issues.” And they denied my request for compensation for this reason.

I disagreed and responded once more and explained the full details (since the online form does allow you to put details) of the situation and finally they responded again with “In this situation, weather conditions prevented the safe operation of the airplane. This was outside our control. If a delay or cancellation of a flight is for reasons outside our control, we do not have to compensate customers and the minimum standards of treatment do not apply. This is Air Canada’s final position on the compensation, and we are unable to offer further consideration.”

The reason I feel I was denied boarding and am entitled to compensation is because:
  • I had a boarding pass with an assigned seat, and I made it to the gate relatively quickly.
  • I was unaware of the change of flight, since it was changed while I was mid-flight.
  • Other individuals arrived at the same time and boarded.
Few things I am not sure about / potential reasons for not being eligible:
  • Not sure what the policy is for the time I arrived at the gate to board vs departure vs take off and how that would affect me, even though they let others board.
  • Hard for me to confirm that my bag was actually on the plane, but according to customer service agents when I was rerouted, the path I took home was the quickest way. (I have timestamped photos that I took as soon as I entered the baggage area of my bag)
In person and via email contact, Customer Service has said;
  • It's a safety risk if you don't travel with your luggage (verbal discussion), so I am not eligible - but I traveled without it anyway
  • They changed their tune on the reason as to why I should not be eligible.
Anyway, I think that covers most of it at a high level.

Opinions appreciated!
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Old Apr 13, 20, 9:30 pm
  #10  
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Welcome to FT, dceenb!

Originally Posted by dceenb View Post
One side was thinking that telling them may sort of grab their attention and maybe pass it along to someone with a bit more clout rather than going to court
In most cases, once you mention you're suing, most companies require all employees outside the legal department to stop talking with you.
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Old Apr 13, 20, 9:41 pm
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Last edited by Sopwith; Apr 13, 20 at 10:37 pm Reason: Deleted.
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Old Apr 13, 20, 10:47 pm
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Not exactly your fact situation, but have a read of this small claims decision regarding in flight rebookings: https://www.canlii.org/en/ns/nssm/do...2014nssm14.pdf
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Old Apr 13, 20, 10:51 pm
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Originally Posted by dceenb View Post
I don't mind. Some details altered slightly (Flight numbers, locations and dates)

The situation is as follows:

I was taking a flight from an YVR to YYZ on Feb 16, 2020 and the departure of the flight was delayed which was initially described on the plane as late arriving passengers from another airport (and confirmed by Customer Service Representatives in YYZ) and noted in my Air Canada application as “This flight is delayed to accommodate late arriving customers” (I have screenshots)

In transit between YVR and YYZ, my booking was changed (unbeknownst to me and I did not check due to the tight arriving connection), we had a tight connection, but various individuals from the flight (approximately 5-7 of us) all made it to the gate to board flight to YQM with “Final Call” displaying on the screen. The Gate Agent was not expecting us and informed us that if we had checked baggage (which I did) we would not be able to board due to safety concerns, and they would not let me board even though I had a ticket with an assigned seat. Some individuals without checked bags boarded with no issues. According to FlightRadar, my flight arrived in YYZ at 7:42am (Gate 33) and my connecting flight (at Gate 38) had an actual departure of 8:14am with take off at 8:33am (original time of departure was intended to be 08:10am)

After conversations with Customer Service, I am rerouted home and arrive at my destination approximately 5 hours later – however, with one final surprise, my checked baggage had made it before me- which I was not allowed to board since my luggage would not travel with me. I was first off the plane and into the luggage area and it was already at the customer service baggage booth. There was no quicker way to YQM than what I took to get there, confirmed by customer services agents). I submitted a request for compensation to Customer Service. They responded and they provided a table to me with which outlined that my YVR to YYZ was delayed because: “This flight was delayed due to customer processing issues.” And they denied my request for compensation for this reason.

I disagreed and responded once more and explained the full details (since the online form does allow you to put details) of the situation and finally they responded again with “In this situation, weather conditions prevented the safe operation of the airplane. This was outside our control. If a delay or cancellation of a flight is for reasons outside our control, we do not have to compensate customers and the minimum standards of treatment do not apply. This is Air Canada’s final position on the compensation, and we are unable to offer further consideration.”

The reason I feel I was denied boarding and am entitled to compensation is because:
  • I had a boarding pass with an assigned seat, and I made it to the gate relatively quickly.
  • I was unaware of the change of flight, since it was changed while I was mid-flight.
  • Other individuals arrived at the same time and boarded.
Few things I am not sure about / potential reasons for not being eligible:
  • Not sure what the policy is for the time I arrived at the gate to board vs departure vs take off and how that would affect me, even though they let others board.
  • Hard for me to confirm that my bag was actually on the plane, but according to customer service agents when I was rerouted, the path I took home was the quickest way. (I have timestamped photos that I took as soon as I entered the baggage area of my bag)
In person and via email contact, Customer Service has said;
  • It's a safety risk if you don't travel with your luggage (verbal discussion), so I am not eligible - but I traveled without it anyway
  • They changed their tune on the reason as to why I should not be eligible.
Anyway, I think that covers most of it at a high level.

Opinions appreciated!
Wow, that was honestly a lot more information than I expected. In future, I recommend starting with it, because it makes it much easier to respond. You may find another front-page thread that has devolved into guessing what itinerary A-B-C was, because people were annoyed at the OP (which is definitely not the case here).

That being said, you are not entitled to IDB compensation if your flight departed with empty seats, which it sounds like it did, given that others without checked bags were allowed to travel.

Your gate arrival was 28 minutes before your scheduled gate departure. Do you know what time you got to the departure gate? If it was at least 15 minutes before scheduled departure, that may help.

Anyway, it's not IDB. I think you SHOULD have a strong case, but this is not something AC will help you with, and I doubt it's something the CTA will help you with. AC delayed you, but you still showed up on time to your connection, then they denied you boarding, while allowing others in the same situation to board, on an obviously false premise (the bags).

I don't know how much money you're looking to get out of this, but I have seen small claims courts award full refunds plus lawyer costs for things as equally "trivial" (and I don't mean that in a bad way). You paid for something. You did everything you could to ensure you got what you paid for. AC could have provided it (by letting you board) but chose not to. Courts don't like that.

Good luck.
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Old Apr 13, 20, 11:09 pm
  #14  
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post

That being said, you are not entitled to IDB compensation if your flight departed with empty seats, which it sounds like it did, given that others without checked bags were allowed to travel.

My initial response:
Isn't that the US definition of IDB?
Then I looked it up, and nope, IDB requires seats < pax. Leaving this response here in case anyone else had the same doubt

I wish you luck in your claim OP, but I'm not sure this counts as IDB.
You may have better luck characterizing it as a delay, but that would require litigation (the argument being, as you pointed out, the inbound was late, but that AC chooses to use the same plane for the inbound vs outbound is a commercial decision, so even if it was late coming in due to wx, that's an AC problem not a you problem. The EU likewise doesn't recognize late inbounds due to wx as a valid reason for wiggling out of an EU261 claim. I'm not sure there are any regulations around that in Canada)
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Old Apr 13, 20, 11:17 pm
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
Wow, that was honestly a lot more information than I expected. In future, I recommend starting with it, because it makes it much easier to respond. You may find another front-page thread that has devolved into guessing what itinerary A-B-C was, because people were annoyed at the OP (which is definitely not the case here).

That being said, you are not entitled to IDB compensation if your flight departed with empty seats, which it sounds like it did, given that others without checked bags were allowed to travel.

Your gate arrival was 28 minutes before your scheduled gate departure. Do you know what time you got to the departure gate? If it was at least 15 minutes before scheduled departure, that may help.

Anyway, it's not IDB. I think you SHOULD have a strong case, but this is not something AC will help you with, and I doubt it's something the CTA will help you with. AC delayed you, but you still showed up on time to your connection, then they denied you boarding, while allowing others in the same situation to board, on an obviously false premise (the bags).

I don't know how much money you're looking to get out of this, but I have seen small claims courts award full refunds plus lawyer costs for things as equally "trivial" (and I don't mean that in a bad way). You paid for something. You did everything you could to ensure you got what you paid for. AC could have provided it (by letting you board) but chose not to. Courts don't like that.

Good luck.
Unknown exactly how long it took me to get to the departure gate, as it's not something I normally time but I would estimate 5 minutes as it was relatively quick as most people let the late arriving passengers get to the front of the plane due to the tight connection.. Worst case it was just under 10 minutes. D33 to D38 in YYZ is pretty close.

Based on what you have said, I am not eligible for IDB because there were seats available, what would this be classified as then, given I had a valid ticket, the seat was available (seemingly) and I was there on time to board?
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