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Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:15 pm

Well, this one will probably generate some interesting responses. A judge in Canada will allow a class action suit against Air Canada. This is the case where disabled and obese passengers had to buy an extra seat, until the Canada civil rights commission ruled otherwise.

Here's the story (courtesy of CBC.ca):
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/stor...air-canada-obese-class-action.html

[Edited 2011-12-12 15:16:34]
 
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Francoflier
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:30 pm

I personally see two debatable issues here:

One is whether airline should bear the cost of an additional extra seat needed for attendants accompanying disabled people.
Personally, I think ethics dictate that yes they should.

The second, hot-sauce covered one is whether obese people should be considered 'disabled'...

Technically they are, but in most cases, they become so through their own negligence so I'm not partial to having them pay their own extra seat. Let's not forget that airlines run very tight margins, we're not talking about a train or boat on which the available space is rarely an issue, and they have a right to make money too.

But then we'd have to differentiate between the people who became disabled through their own 'fault' and those who really didn't choose, and I think that's morally wrong and discriminating. Think of a paraplegic who became so after crashing his car while driving drunk...

It's still a tricky debate, I'm glad I'm not a Canadian judge.
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yyz717
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:39 pm

This is ridiculous. Anyone who occupies 2 seats should pay for 2. End of story. I hope AC flights this and wins.

Quoting francoflier (Reply 1):
One is whether airline should bear the cost of an additional extra seat needed for attendants accompanying disabled people.
Personally, I think ethics dictate that yes they should.

AC is running a business, not a social service. There is no ethical component. You pay as you go.

Quoting francoflier (Reply 1):
I'm glad I'm not a Canadian judge.

Why? Sounds like an easy job....you get to make spurious decisions totally devoid of basic economic sense.
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gen2stew
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:42 pm

Really?! So these same "disabled" people shoud be able to sue McDonalds for charging more for a larger meal. Airlines produce a product (seats for sale) just a restaurants produce meals. If one needs more that what is provided or produced, than you must purchase more (think "would you like to super size your meal?).
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robsaw
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:25 am

The legal debate over the 2nd seat for obese or for attendants for otherwise disabled requiring such has already been settled by the Supreme Court of Canada (well actually by the Human Rights Tribunal but the SC declined to hear an appeal so it is effectively settled by the highest law in the land).

The matter of who exactly qualifies as "disabled" due to obesity is less than fully settled.
 
RamblinMan
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:54 am

Quoting francoflier (Reply 1):
The second, hot-sauce covered one is whether obese people should be considered 'disabled'...
Technically they are

Where to draw the line... I am nearsighted enough that I can't function without correction- the government should pay for my contacts. My aunt is diabetic and has to buy special shoes- why should she have to pay more than me?

Everybody has one issue or another which causes them to incur extra personal expense. Most of us suck it up, pay up, and move on.
 
WestJet747
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:57 am

Quoting francoflier (Reply 1):
The second, hot-sauce covered one is whether obese people should be considered 'disabled'...
Quoting robsaw (Reply 4):
The matter of who exactly qualifies as "disabled" due to obesity is less than fully settled.

Absolutely correct. The article fails to make any mention of the qualifications of obesity as a "disability".

I wouldn't mind hearing from one of the medical professionals on A-net about what percentage of obese people in Canada are actually obese due to genetics or glandular issues, as opposed to just going to the drive-thru a few too many times. I'm a cold-harded capitalist, but I see no reason why an airline shouldn't accommodate for the disabled. But if you got fat on your own, then suffer the consequences and take a Greyhound or VIA Rail.



Quoting francoflier (Reply 1):
One is whether airline should bear the cost of an additional extra seat needed for attendants accompanying disabled people.
Personally, I think ethics dictate that yes they should.

It is very well known that ethics and the bottom line do not sleep in the same bed whatsoever. So when you have a profit-seeking airline, to even suggest that it is "ethically just" for them to not charge for the attendant is corporate heresy. My opinion is that the patient, or healthcare provider, should fork over the cash for that extra seat occupied by the attendant. AC and WS aren't charities...
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cslusarc
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:59 am

In this instance, I disagree with the current Regulation on accommodating the obese people and companions of the disabled. No other nation requires similar accommodation that I know about. I think that companions could travel for free on a space available basis for disabled passengers who purchase a full fare ticket.
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AirCanada787
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 3:54 am

Quoting yyz717 (Reply 2):
This is ridiculous. Anyone who occupies 2 seats should pay for 2. End of story. I hope AC flights this and wins.

  

Quoting yyz717 (Reply 2):
AC is running a business, not a social service. There is no ethical component. You pay as you go.

  

I really can't believe this is even going to court. Airline seats are a product that is being sold. You buy what you 'need' just like anything else.

Quoting WestJet747 (Reply 6):
I wouldn't mind hearing from one of the medical professionals on A-net about what percentage of obese people in Canada are actually obese due to genetics or glandular issues, as opposed to just going to the drive-thru a few too many times. I'm a cold-harded capitalist, but I see no reason why an airline shouldn't accommodate for the disabled. But if you got fat on your own, then suffer the consequences and take a Greyhound or VIA Rail.

But who is to decide if they became fat or obese on their own or not? This seems like a slippery slope to be on.
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cyeg66
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:10 am

Here's a solution. Don't charge for the extra seat but charge them for extra baggage, such as the two pork roasts and the full size spare they've got under their tarp. Make 'em pay. Since when is it a right to fly and not one hell of an expensive privilege, including more delicately proportioned folk?
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BMI727
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:12 am

Quoting francoflier (Reply 1):
One is whether airline should bear the cost of an additional extra seat needed for attendants accompanying disabled people.

No.

Quoting francoflier (Reply 1):
The second, hot-sauce covered one is whether obese people should be considered 'disabled'...

No.

Next case.
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WestJet747
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:15 am

Quoting AirCanada787 (Reply 8):
But who is to decide if they became fat or obese on their own or not?

Doctors?

Quoting cyeg66 (Reply 9):
Since when is it a right to fly and not one hell of an expensive privilege, including more delicately proportioned folk?

Because the judicial system has decided it's not ok to hurt anyone's feelings.  
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xero9
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:48 am

Quoting yyz717 (Reply 2):
AC is running a business, not a social service. There is no ethical component. You pay as you go.

While I tend to agree, think of this..

When my brother was younger, him and my dad flew out west to go skiing. While there, he broke his leg and had a full cast going up to his hip. My dad ended up having to purchase 4 tickets (three for brother), and 1 for himself.

Now obviously if this flight was heavily booked he should have to pay for 4 tickets, but in this case it was no where near capacity. I suppose it depends how you look at it.
 
AngMoh
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:51 am

Quoting cslusarc (Reply 7):
In this instance, I disagree with the current Regulation on accommodating the obese people and companions of the disabled. No other nation requires similar accommodation that I know about. I think that companions could travel for free on a space available basis for disabled passengers who purchase a full fare ticket.

If they need to travel with a companion because they are disabled, shouldn't the medical insurance pay in that case instead of Air Canada? If you follow the same logic as in the lawsuit, the hospital should pay for their medical expenses.... (and I am pretty sure they bleed the party paying dry).

And obese people, they just should go on a diet....
 
brilondon
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:05 am

Quoting robsaw (Reply 4):
The legal debate over the 2nd seat for obese or for attendants for otherwise disabled requiring such has already been settled by the Supreme Court of Canada (well actually by the Human Rights Tribunal but the SC declined to hear an appeal so it is effectively settled by the highest law in the land).

The matter of who exactly qualifies as "disabled" due to obesity is less than fully settled.



There are medical definitions that define obesity. The SC agreed with the HRT and it is federal law that requires all transportation mediums have facilities for the disabled.

Quoting AirCanada787 (Reply 8):
I really can't believe this is even going to court. Airline seats are a product that is being sold. You buy what you 'need' just like anything else.



Right, but you can buy a larger size or more of one that doesn't cost the same as two of the same product.

Quoting AngMoh (Reply 13):
And obese people, they just should go on a diet....



Yeah, the obese people did not think of that now did they?
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Flaps
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:08 am

Being fat is not a disability. If obesity is caused by another medical condition such as diabetes etc then perhaps the disabled persons insurance could pick up the tab for the extra seat. Regardless, if you cant fit in one seat then you must pay for two. I am sick and tired of being crushed by "obese" people. I fly an enormous amount of long (2.5 to 3.5 hour segments) on regional jets. I am sick and tired of being abused by political correctness with regard to over sized passengers.
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:21 am

Quoting yyz717 (Reply 2):
This is ridiculous. Anyone who occupies 2 seats should pay for 2. End of story.

"This is ridiculous. Anyone who's in a wheelchair should pay for the installation of the ramp/elevator. End of story."

Obesity is an easy one to pick on but once you realize that, rightly or wrongly, they classified obesity as a disability, it's not so clear cut.

Quoting yyz717 (Reply 2):
Quoting francoflier (Reply 1):
I'm glad I'm not a Canadian judge.

Why? Sounds like an easy job....you get to make spurious decisions totally devoid of basic economic sense.

A judge's job isn't to make economic sense, it's to enforce the law. It's not the judge's fault that the law says you have to accommodate disabilities and obesity is a disability. This isn't a Canadian issue, by the way...the US cries "judicial activism" all the time when they really mean "How dare that judge enforce the idiot law that Congress passed!".

Tom.
 
nomadd22
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:35 pm

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 16):
A judge's job isn't to make economic sense, it's to enforce the law. It's not the judge's fault that the law says you have to accommodate disabilities and obesity is a disability.


Agree it's the judges job. Unfortunately, that's not always the result. Juducial activism isn't exactly unknown on either side of the border or anywhere else. And the law doesn't say you have to accomadate all disabilities. It says you have to make reasonable efforts to accomadate them. Giving away a seat worth hundreds of dollars based on a vague, much disputed legal definition of disability might not be "reasonable" in some eyes.
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canadianpylon
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:51 pm

Quoting yyz717 (Reply 2):
AC is running a business, not a social service.

Tell that to the government everytime there is a threat of a strike.   
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blueflyer
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 2:44 pm

Can anyone be an attendant to a disabled person, or are there specific rules? It could be quite convenient for a couple wanting to visit family to have one declared disabled and the other the attendant to cut their airline ticket expense in two...

Quoting cslusarc (Reply 7):
I think that companions could travel for free on a space available basis for disabled passengers who purchase a full fare ticket.

I'm not in favor of the current ruling, but that isn't a solution either. The difference between a full fare ticket and an advance-purchase fare ticket can be such that your solution might be more onerous than buying two discount tickets a month early!

Quoting xero9 (Reply 12):
Now obviously if this flight was heavily booked he should have to pay for 4 tickets, but in this case it was no where near capacity.

What difference does it make whether the flight was full or not? Your brother and your father together removed 4 seats from inventory and should be paying for them. There is insurance to cover exactly the kind of situation they found themselves in. That they chose not to sign up for one is no one's fault but theirs.

Quoting brilondon (Reply 14):
The SC agreed with the HRT and it is federal law that requires all transportation mediums have facilities for the disabled.

I suppose the requirement isn't absolute (not every restroom in every public facility needs to be handicap accessible), so couldn't airlines adopt a similar approach, install one wider seat per aircraft, designate it the "disabled seat" and exclude it from the lowest fare buckets?
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longhauler
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 3:14 pm

Quoting xero9 (Reply 12):
Now obviously if this flight was heavily booked he should have to pay for 4 tickets, but in this case it was no where near capacity

While it may or may not have been your brother's fault that he was injured ... it certainly wasn't the airline's fault. One uses 4 seats, one pays for 4 seats ... seems simple to me.

Quoting WestJet747 (Reply 6):
The article fails to make any mention of the qualifications of obesity as a "disability".

No it doesn't. However, when the Supreme Court judgement was released, there were qualifications. I recall one of them was that a physician must sign an affidavit stating that the patient's obesity was in no way his own fault. In my opinion, that's a tough one to prove. The press stated at the time, in response to that judgement, that probably in less than half of one percent would a passenger "qualify" for an airline paid extra seat.

Quoting Flaps (Reply 15):
Being fat is not a disability. If obesity is caused by another medical condition such as diabetes etc

Exactly! In fact it is normally the other way around. Most diabetes is caused by patient induced obesity!

This whole class action lawsuit sounds like some scheme concocted by a lawyer looking to make a buck or two. Round up a bunch of obese AC passengers, then start the merry-go-round. Much like the gentleman that became mentally disturbed because he was not able to order Seven Up in french on a 20 minute flight!
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Jerseyguy
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:10 pm

Here we go, I think Southwest has it right. You must buy a second seat for the same price you paid for your first. HOWEVER, if the flight is not oversold (it can be booked completely full), you may apply to get a refund of the seat.

I am obese (6'1 296.5 lbs or 134.49 kilograms for our friends to the north and 21.18 Stone for the folks across the pond), when I buy clothes allot of times my size cost more because it requires more material to make. Ultimately, I am fat of my own doing. I could argue its not my fault because of a trauma I experienced in childhood which caused my emotional eating but ultimately its up to me to deal with.

So Southwest policy is really obese friendly, they are under no obligation to refund the seat if they wouldn't have sold it. However they do. From what I hear 90% of the time, the flight does not get overbooked and therefore a refund is issued.
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longhauler
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:24 pm

Quoting Jerseyguy (Reply 21):
So Southwest policy is really obese friendly, they are under no obligation to refund the seat if they wouldn't have sold it. However they do. From what I hear 90% of the time, the flight does not get overbooked and therefore a refund is issued.

I agree. I think Southwest has the fairest, and most logical approach to dealing with Customers of Size. When this Supreme Court judgement was released, I forwarded Southwest's policy to several Members of Parliament, and suggested that this might be a way to approach the issue.

Quoting Jerseyguy (Reply 21):
I could argue its not my fault because of a trauma I experienced in childhood which caused my emotional eating but ultimately its up to me to deal with.

As a hobby, I am a personal trainer, and often donate my time to the YMCA/YWCA. This is something I hear a lot. I assume when you say "trauma" you mean some mental trauma, and not an injury. I have always felt that the grey area with regard to "am I at fault" comes with mental issues, and not physical issues. Namely some childhood issues, or later in life depression issues. It is a known fact, that many people eat to escape depression.

As a personal trainer, I guide obese people toward other means to escape depression. But make no bones about it, I acknowledge the problem does exist, and it is causing obesity.
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cmf
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:41 pm

Quoting yyz717 (Reply 2):
Why? Sounds like an easy job....you get to make spurious decisions totally devoid of basic economic sense.

Fortunately a lot more than basic economic sense is considered in law.
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threepoint
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:43 pm

Is the outcome of the case to be applied equally to all Canadian airlines? What about foreign airlines serving Canada? It appears from initial glance that the costs of defending or settling this case are to be borne exclusively by AC, yet there are many who wonder why it's difficult for them to make a buck. It's death by a thousand paper cuts.
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MD11Engineer
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:01 pm

Quoting xero9 (Reply 12):

When my brother was younger, him and my dad flew out west to go skiing. While there, he broke his leg and had a full cast going up to his hip. My dad ended up having to purchase 4 tickets (three for brother), and 1 for himself.

Now obviously if this flight was heavily booked he should have to pay for 4 tickets, but in this case it was no where near capacity. I suppose it depends how you look at it.

This is what you have medical travel insurance for. They usually cover repatriation expenses as well.
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cyeg66
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RE: Judge Allows "xtra Seat" Lawsuit Against AirCanada

Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:16 pm

Perhaps the airlines will need to roll out a scale and have pax weigh themselves to determine the cost of "uplifting" them. I mean, that's what an airplane is doing, right? It's fighting mother earth to get people off the ground. Seems this is the most equitable way to resolve this.... Figure I would pay somewhere "in the middle" weighing in at under 2 bills. (Mother earth is fighting me in her own way as I get older....) Interested in any pro bono trainer work, Longhauler?   Though lack of time/energy are the prime determinants at this juncture....
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