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An Indian court has ordered Air Canada to pay a woman and her family nearly $70,000 in damages for violating their passengers’ rights last year.

On September 3, 2017, Minali Mittal, along with her 3-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter, was traveling from Chandigarh, India (IXC), home to Toronto (YYZ). During a stopover in Delhi (DEL), Mittal’s daughter, Teesha, threw up in the airplane aisle in response to a “foul smell” emanating from the locked lavatory.

According to the documents Mittal filed with the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Air Canada staff began scolding the young girl and humiliating her before forcing the family off the plane. Mittal said that the three family members were left waiting at the gate for hours in the middle of night, without their bags and passports, which had been held by Air Canada employees, who also did not offer accommodation for the passengers. Mittal, who holds a Canadian passport, said that she and her children eventually boarded another flight to Toronto three days later, after she had already paid out of pocket for additional travel. Not knowing how long they would be held in limbo, Mittal had purchased tickets home to Chandigarh so they could stay with family.

In a 71-page judgment, Justice Paramjeet Singh Dhaliwal stated that Air Canada caused the family “grave deficiency in service, unfair trade practice and violation of human rights and child rights, due to which the complainants suffered great mental tension, agony, harassment, humiliation and hardships.” Justice Dhaliwal ordered Air Canada and codeshare partner airline Jet Airways “to pay lump sum compensation for the mental agony, tension, harassment, misbehaviour, humiliation and hardships suffered by the complainants at the hands of crew staff of opposite parties (the airlines).”

According to Air Canada, the family was removed from the flight for illness, not for any other reasons. A defense statement to the court stated that “carrying a sick passenger would have been risky for the child, in case the mid-air crisis takes place. Moreover, it would have caused inconvenience to other passengers as well, due to emergency landing and unwanted delays.”

However, Justice Dhaliwal rejected the airline’s claim in his judgment, stating that Teesha had never been asked by Air Canada flight attendants to describe her symptoms or explain what had caused her to vomit, and was never offered any medical assistance. The Justice’s judgment further stated that the airline’s actions constituted a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and ordered the Director General of Civil Aviation to enforce a more consumer-friendly approach with all airlines.

An Air Canada spokesperson stated that the airline plans to contest the ruling.

Featured photo by Air Canada. 

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