Well, it’s finally over! “It” being the long drawn out battle between disability advocates and the Canadian airline industry, regarding the one-person one-fare decision.
It all began in 2002, when the Council of Canadians with Disabilities sued Air Canada and WestJet on behalf of two disabled passengers. They claimed that the airlines discriminated against disabled passengers because they did not allow attendants to travel for free, as is the case for disabled bus, ferry and train passengers throughout Canada.
Suffice it to say that things were delayed many times over the years. One of the original plaintiffs even died. Earlier this year the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The decision was upheld on appeal.
But that didn’t daunt the airlines, as they sought to take the case to Canada’s Supreme Court. Well, it all ended last week when the Supreme Court declined to hear the case and ordered the airlines to pay the plaintiff’s legal costs.
So, the CTA’s decision stands. The law will go into effect on January 10, 2009.
There are some restrictions of course. The attendant must be required for the in-flight personal care or safety of the passenger; and it doesn’t apply to people who prefer to travel with a companion or to those folks who only require attendant care at their destination. Additionally it only applies to domestic flights within Canada.
This is a pretty groundbreaking decision – the first in the world. But I for one and just glad it’s over.