In a ruling set down earlier this year by the Quebec Superior Court of Justice, Air Canada was found to have discriminated against travelers with disabilities by requiring them to purchase tickets for their personal care attendants.

Plaintiffs argued that Air Canada had failed to honor its responsibilities under the Canada Transportation Act, and that the additional expense of airline tickets for care attendants placed an undue burden on access to transportation and mobility.

Stock photograph of Courthouse bench.

The court agreed and stated that Air Canada’s requirement that passengers with a disability purchase a second ticket was discriminatory. According to a summary of the ruling in the ILO Newsletter, “the court found that the fact that a person must pay for an additional seat because of their disability constituted an undue obstacle to their mobility within the meaning of the Canada Transportation Act.”

The court’s decision was also extended to obese passengers, who had previously been required to purchase two seats if the space of a single seat was insufficient.

Air Canada was ordered to refund the cost of the second ticket to affected parties and establish a ‘one passenger one ticket’ accommodation in the future. The ruling was limited to the Province of Quebec.

Passengers with disabilities traveling wholly within Canada on Air Canada may bring a personal care attendant free of charge. Details on the policy are available on the Air Canada website.

The court’s final judgment is available here (in French).

Should personal care attendants fly free of charge?
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