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Lone Canadian battled British Airways and won for all travellers in Canada

In a January 20th press release, Canadian mathematician Dr. Gabi Lukacs laid out the key to the Canadian Transportation Agency Decision 10-C-A-2014 "COMPLAINT by Gábor Lukács against British Airways Plc carrying on business as British Airways" stating (emphasis added),

Interview w Dr. Gabi Lukacs, Air passenger rights advocate, re British Airways
Kempton Lam

"British Airways must rewrite its policies governing the rights of passengers in the case of denied boarding [note: when the airline over booked a flight], flight delays and cancellations, and damaged and delayed baggage, according to a ruling the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) handed down on Friday evening.

The CTA found that British Airways' denied boarding compensation policy "fails to strike a balance between the passengers' rights to be subject to reasonable terms and conditions of carriage, and British Airways' statutory, commercial and operational obligations." The CTA also held that the airline's liability policies are "unreasonable" and inconsistent with the Montreal Convention.

The decision, which upholds a complaint by Gabor Lukacs, a Halifax mathematician and air passenger rights advocate, orders British Airways to revise its liability policies by February 17, 2014. By that day, the airline also has to explain why the CTA should not impose on it the denied boarding compensation scheme used in the US or the one that was imposed on Air Canada in 2013."

In the August 2013 report "Air Canada ordered to pay $200, $400, or $800 to bump passenger off", Dr. Lukacs' hard work lead to the CTA decision that the decision where,

"Air Canada now has to revise its denied boarding compensation regime by September 18, 2013, to reflect the following compensation provisions:

* Less than 2 hour delay = 50% of the base amount [i.e. $200]
* Between 2 and less than 6 hour delay = 100% of the base amount [i.e. $400]
* 6 hour delay or more = 200% of the base amount [i.e. $800]
* The base amount is established as $400

This compensation applies solely to involuntary denied boarding, and does not relate to situations where a passenger volunteers to be denied boarding for whatever compensation Air Canada wishes to offer."

As Dr. Lukacs explained in an extensive Skype video interview with this reporter, his approach is to establish a series of CTA decisions and precedences with various airlines (including the Air Canada one from August 2013) and hopefully be able to reach resolution with the various non-complying airlines (and there are many) without wasting everyone's time and resources. Especially when the airlines (in this case a foreign airline like British Airways) disregards clearly established CTA decisions and precedences that have been established over time to protect traveling public in Canada.

It is easy to see, Dr. Lukacs is fighting for passengers' right of all traveling public in Canada and not for himself alone. The compensation that British Airways will have to pay hopefully soon, to this reporter, will be known as "Gabi Compensation" in the same way as mathematical theorems are named after their discoverers/inventors.

Dr. Lukacs' previous reply to this reporter's suggestion in honouring his effort is very illustrative of his motivation and this reporter hope and wish more Canadians will follow his line of reasoning and apply in fighting for what is right in other industries with other big corporations.

"... it doesn't matter where it was me or somebody else who got those [air passenger] rights. What is important [is] that those rights are put in place. And that people will now have better treatment. It doesn't matter it was me, or my neighbour, or my friend or you, or that person in another city who made those changes. For me, it's a question of I've learned enough about airlines to know that something are just wrong and against the law. And when I happened to see that, like in the case of what happened in Ottawa airport, I cannot just walk by and do nothing. I feel a responsibility.

Knowledge gives some responsibility. When you know that something is wrong, and you have quite a good idea of how to fix it, that does impose on you some level of moral responsibility, social responsibility. And so the issue of air passenger rights needs a face in Canada. I don't see myself as a full-time passenger rights advocate, I am a mathematician after all. But certainly, I know that I am able to bring, through the agency, to the Canadian public some prospectives & arguments that benefit everybody. So I do it."

Lets hope major corporations like British Airways will promptly stop acting in ways that have been ruled to be against Canadian laws. It is a shame that seemingly reputable airlines like British Airways had to drag out the process for so long (and potentially longer) instead of complying with clear precedences set by CTA with other airlines.

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