Air Canada denies compensation in flagrant disregard of EU261

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Aug 14, 2019
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#1
On July 12th, six family members traveled on Air Canada from Bordeaux (BOD) to Boston (BOS) with a connection in Montreal (YUL). Both flights were booked as a single ticket. The flight from BOD to YUL was on time. However, the YUL-BOS flight was cancelled, then rebooked by Air Canada on a later flight, which was substantially delayed for mechanical and catering reasons. Final arrival in BOS was over 4 hours late. Under EU261 each traveler should be due 600 euro in compensation.

Air Canada has denied the claim with this explanation. "Air Canada submits that flight from Montreal to Boston on 2019/07/12 is not under the Scope of the EU Regulations 261/2004. Air Canada is not a Community carrier and this flight was departing from Canada and not the EU. In cases where flights are not operated by Community carriers, the EU Regulations 261/2004 applies where passengers are departing from an airport located in the territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies."

my understanding, which I politely communicated to Air Canada's customer relations agent handling the issue, is that even when the flight is not operated by a Community carrier, and even when it is departing from Canada, the flight is still considered a single flight under EU261 as interpreted in May, 2018 in the Wegener case by the Court of European Justice. See… https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2018-05/cp180077en.pdf and a second decision in July 2019 reaffirming the Wegener decision. .https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2019-07/cp190095en.pdf

This decision states…"By today’s judgment, the Court states, first, that a flight with one or more connections which is the subject of a single reservation constitutes a whole for the purposes of the right of passengers to compensation provided for in the regulation on the rights of air passengers. Accordingly, connecting flights of which the first flight was performed from an airport located in the territory of a Member State, in this case Prague, fall within the scope of that regulation even if the second of those connecting flights was performed by a non-Community carrier from and to a country which is not an EU Member State.

The Air Canada agent responded to my argument with a curt reply "Continuing to exchange emails will not change our position. Respectfully, we consider this matter closed."

Other than going to a third party collection agency, what avenues do I have to escalate this to a higher level within Air Canada or to Canadian to EU regulatory agencies? Somehow, I suspect this agent is either ignorant of the details of EU261 or is a rogue agent that might not represent Air Canada's final position. And if I go to a third party, any recommendations?
 

Dwayne Coward

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Apr 13, 2016
685
1,032
93
St. Louis
#2
If the airline has denied the compensation under EC261 the next step is to appeal to the National Enforcement Body, which in your case would be France. They can make a determination if compensation is appropriate in accordance with the regulation. The following website explains how to file with the French authorities (if you don't understand French, using a chrome browser with the translate extension will help):

https://www.ecologique-solidaire.go...depart-annulation-dun-vol-refus-dembarquement
 
Aug 14, 2019
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#3
Thanks...that's very useful. I didn't see any link to the DGAC form they reference or an email address to send electronically however.
 
Aug 14, 2019
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#6
I'd like to bring readers up to date..WE FINALLY RECEIVED 600 EURO COMPENSATION FOR 6 PASSENGERS.

Earlier posts detail my ill-fated attempts to receive compensation for six family members who were delayed over 4 hours on their return trip to Boston from Bordeaux connecting in Montreal. While the BOD-YUL flight was on time, the YUL-BOS segment was subject to the long delay. AC turned down my request curtly and indicated that since that flight was from a non-europeans community nation to another non-community nation that it wasn't subject to EU261.

I decided to make one last attempt and wrote an email directly to Twyla Robinson, General Manager, Customer Relations & Executive Centre, whose email address I found on this site. I politely pointed out that I believed the prior denials of compensation were ill-informed and that the entire flight should be viewed as a single flight under the rulings of the European Court of Justice in the Wegener and the České/Etihad cases. I included pdf's of both those rulings in my email. At the end of my email, I said "In light of what seems to be the clear applicability of EU/EC 261, I would appreciate your review of our claim. We are hopeful that Air Canada will do what is right and and responsible. Failing a satisfactory response, it seems that we're left with little choice but to engage a third party to pursue the claim in the appropriate EU court and to file a report with DGAC Air Transport Directorate in Paris."

A week later, I received an email from a customer relations manager at AC stating "In this instance, we remain of the opinion that the compensation requested under EC Regulations does not apply. However, in the interest of concluding this amicably, on a goodwill basis, we will provide the compensation of 600 EUR per person. Converted to US Dollars at the current rate of exchange, the amount each person will receive is $662 USD. The compensation will be paid by bank draft (cheque). "

Naturally, I'm gratified that AC stepped up and did the right thing. I still don't know, and it doesn't really matter at this point, if the earlier denial was due to an ill-informed agent that thought the EX-YUL flight didn't count, or if it was AC policy to initially refuse in the hope that the claimant would go away, Obviously, by stating this was a "goodwill" gesture instead of compliance with EU261, they don't want to set precedent for future claims. We're satisfied that the higher-ups at AC took the claim seriously and examined it on the merits.....and my family members (four who are college students) are delighted to each receive a $662.00 USD check which arrived yesterday, two weeks after the notification from AC.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
20,308
19,338
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#7
You should have filed the EU261 complaint. The airline can protest all they want but if you file and your claim is approved by the EU they would be able to force the airline to pay you.

Very few airlines admit they violated EU261 rules. They try to say no and take their chances that you won’t follow up. Filing a complaint gives you the definitive answer and the airline can be mandated to pay the claim.
 
Aug 14, 2019
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#8
Are you saying despite our success in obtaining €600 each. That I should have filed the complaint with appropriate authorizes rather than going back to Ac to argue our case.