This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
A recent Supreme Court ruling has announced that Air Canada is not obligated to offer compensation to an Ottawa couple who claimed to have had their rights violated when the airline failed to serve them in French. According to the 5-2 ruling, the court said that while “there is no dispute that the airline breached its obligations to supply services in French under… the Official Languages Act.”
The judgment was in compliance with an earlier Federal Court of Appeal ruling, which stated that the airline was not obligated to offer damages since such incidents occur on international flights. The ruling pointed out that there are clear restrictions, under the “Montreal Convention,” on the types of claims for damages that may be made against international air carriers. The complainants in the case were a couple from Ottawa, Michel and Lynda Thibodeau, who made several trips between Ottawa and Atlanta, Georgia, aboard Air Canada Jazz in 2009.
The couple had complained to have not gotten any service in French at the time of their check in, boarding and aboard the flights. Furthermore, it was also complained that an announcement about a change of baggage carousel was only made in English. Although the Thibodeaus are both fluently bilingual, they argued about being served in French under the Official Languages Act. Jazz was an arm of Air Canada at the time, which was obligated to offer services in both official languages, but it is no longer part of Air Canada.