Yesterday, January 10, 2008 in Ottawa, the Canadian Transportation Agency that oversees all air, rail, marine, and accessible transport in Canada, ruled that Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet will be required to adopt a one-person-one-fare policy.
This means that these airlines will not be able to charge more than one fare for those with severe disabilities who:
- Are accompanied by an attendant for their personal care or safety in flight, as required by the carriers’ domestic tariffs, or
- Require additional seating for themselves (i.e. if it is the case they must be transported in a stretcher), and including those determined to be functionally disabled by obesity for purposes of air travel
The ruling does not apply to:
- Persons with disabilities or others who prefer to travel with a companion for personal reasons
- Persons with disabilities who require a personal care attendant at destination but not in-flight
- Persons who are obese but not disabled as a result of their obesity
In the past, this has been a hotly debated issue for many with disabilities requiring additional help or space during their travels, and has often excluded these passengers from air travel. The ruling ensures that persons with disabilities have proper access to effective transportation service.
Screening methods are currently employed by airline carriers as assessments of whether people have adequate fitness and conditions for travel. These are to be adapted to fit this ruling. For those disabled by obesity, the screening test which would allow them an extra seta would be to determine whether the individual can lower the seat’s armrests.
This decision was made in a legal case issued against these airlines in 2002 by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Joanne Neubauer of Victoria, and the Estate of the late Eric Norman (a resident of Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador).
As of January 10th, Air Canada had no comments on the decision, but also indicates that it is the policy of Air Canada to conduct its business in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations. WestJet also responded on January 10th saying “remains committed to providing excellent service to all their guests, including guests with disabilities. The scope of this decision is long and complex. Once WestJet has had an opportunity to fully review and evaluate the decision, they will comment further.”
To read more on the decision, please visit: the Canadian Transportation Agency‘s page.