Late Friday morning before the surprise flip-flop decision by Air Canada, this reporter conducted an exclusive video interview with Dr. Gabor Lukacs, a Canadian air passenger rights advocate acknowledged by the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal, to talk about the CBC reported Thursday news of “Air Canada says parents must pay to guarantee 2-year-old can sit with them on flight“. Lukacs did not mince words and stated Air Canada’s “mechanism is based on deception and based on fraud. Actually, Air Canada has the legal obligation to seat children with the parents, either try to do it at the time of check-in online, if it doesn’t work then at the airport to move passengers around, at the gate, and finally on the flight itself.“Lukacs went on to state, “Air Canada was asking for ransom money [from parents] to ensure that their kids are sitting with them.”
In Lukacs’ note on the Air Passenger Rights Facebook page, he grounded his legal arguments based on Air Canada’s own Domestic Tariff Rule 115(D) which addresses the seating of children next to their parents or accompanying adults who travel within Canada and Air Canada’s own International Tariff Rule 10(C)(1) which deals with the seating of children next to their parents or accompanying adults who travel on international (or transborder) itineraries.
Given what Air Canada’s own Tariff Rules have stated, the words “Air Canada says it has amended its policies after a leading air passenger rights advocate criticized an incident …” as reported by CBC News seems disingenuous. As Air Canada just need to actually do what it has legally promised to do as per the above two tariff rules.
In light of Air Canada backing down on its $40 fee/”ransom money” to seat child with parent, Lukacs was asked on Friday night for his reaction and he stated,
“This is a complete victory for children and their parents. I am very glad that common sense prevailed over greed.
The Canadian travelling public made history today: it showed that public outcry can force even a large corporation such as Air Canada to back off within hours.
Postscript: This reporter has interviewed Lukacs many times over the years and agrees with the Canadian Press observation in a 2015 article, “Lukacs’s advocacy for passengers rights is less about his personal experiences, he said, and more about seeing an area where he feels he can make a positive change for Canada. “It really looks like it takes somebody who wasn’t even born in this country to say ‘OK this is wrong,”’ he said. Lukacs has become someone to whom Canadians reach out with their air travel frustrations.”
Note: This article is cross-posted on examiner.com by this author.
May 1st, 2016 Update: In an earlier Facebook comment, Dr. Lukacs emphasized the following:
“The ruling does not apply to pre-reserved seats. Pre-reserving seats is an extra service, and there is nothing wrong with Air Canada asking passengers to pay for it.
The problem is that Air Canada is forcing parents to pre-reserve seats by telling them that without doing so, their kids may end up seated next to strangers.“