A Discriminatory Practice Is Under Review Following Appeal Win

The Federal Court of Appeal made a decision earlier this month regarding passenger rights on airplanes and ruled over alleged discriminatory airline seating policies. They ordered the Canadian Transportation Agency to re-examine a complaint over a policy Delta Air Lines has of either bumping obese travellers or making them purchase two seats.

The Agency initially dismissed the complaint because it came from a passenger who is not obese, and thus wasn’t directly impacted by the policy. Gabor Lukacs is that passenger’s name, and he is a mathematics teacher at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He stated that he is happy that the decision was overturned because he believes in his freedom to stand up for the rights of others.

The federal appeal court unanimously agreed with Lukacs, and a three-member panel found that, just because someone isn’t directly impacted by a policy, that should not remove their ability to register a complaint. They stated that a person shouldn’t have to wait until they experience the negative effects of a policy like this one before speaking out against it.

Although this decision only affects one issue, Lukacs is hopeful that it could change other laws and policies that the Canadian Transport Agency upholds, and allow more people to act when they see something unjust. And as of now, the Agency must consider each and every complaint and determine whether it has merit before tossing it out.

The issue that sparked all this was an email sent to Delta in 2014 by a passenger who felt cramped on a flight because of another large passenger. Delta then responded with their guidelines, apologized, and explained that it sometimes requests that large passengers be moved to a seat on the plane with more room, purchase a second seat, or take another flight all together. Delta said today that the appeal court ruling is just a procedural matter and that their position on the matter hasn’t changed.

After filing the appeal in April, Lukacs compared dismissing his complaint solely because he wasn’t affected by the policy to ignoring a restaurant patrons concerns over contaminated food because that patron didn’t actually get sick. In the past, he has filed upwards of two dozen complaints successfully with the Canadian Transport Agency.