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A judge ordered Air Transat to pay 75 per cent of the cost of a passenger’s ticket after she wasn’t allowed to board her flight when she arrived late.
PRESSE CANADIENNE January 29, 2020
A judge has ordered Air Transat to pay damages to a passenger who wasn’t allowed to board her flight because the airline decided she had arrived at the boarding gate too late.
Court of Quebec Judge Luc Hervé Thibaudeau ruled in small claims court that the airline hadn’t fulfilled its obligations toward the passenger, who was flying to Guadeloupe, and had failed in its duty to co-operate.
Air Transat flies direct from Montreal to the group of islands in the Caribbean.
On Dec. 24, 2017, Cora Abraham arrived at the airport around 6 a.m. for a 7:50 a.m. flight to Guadeloupe.
She attempted to check in at the terminals without success. An agent wasn’t able to check her in, either. Abraham then had to stand in line for 40 minutes before reaching the check-in counter. However, the agents didn’t immediately find her reservation.
Finally, an hour before takeoff, her boarding pass was issued and she was assigned a seat.
Still, at airport customs, Abraham had to stand in line again.
When she arrived at the gate, she was refused boarding and her baggage was returned.
Abraham testified that she saw the passageway to the plane and saw the plane had not yet left the platform.
Since she had to attend a funeral, she purchased another plane ticket for another flight for about $675. She went to court to claim the $675 as well as other fees.
Air Transat argued that passengers taking international flights are informed they should arrive at the airport at least three hours before their flight.
Abraham acknowledged the information was given to her, but argued it took longer to get to the airport that day because of poor road conditions due to the weather.
According to airline policy, it’s up to a plane’s captain to decide whether to allow a tardy passenger to board.
An airline requires a serious motive to refuse to transport a passenger to their destination, the judge said in his ruling, which was dated Jan. 3. At the same time, a passenger is required to follow the instructions of the airline, he said.
Thibaudeau ruled that Abraham checked in on time, and noted that part of her delay was caused by the agents who were unable to find her reservation.
As well, Air Transat made no attempt to inform the flight crew or the boarding agents that the passenger was on her way to the gate, the judge wrote. “By refusing her access to the plane a few minutes later, (Air) Transat failed in its own commitments.”
However, the passenger was partly responsible for her troubles because she didn’t take the necessary steps to arrive at the airport earlier, Thibaudeau said in the ruling.
The judge assigned Abraham 25 per cent of the responsibility. The airline was ordered to reimburse 75 per cent of the cost of her plane ticket.