Tribunal orders Flair to pay up for spoiled seafood caused by baggage delay

By The Canadian Press

A tribunal has ordered Flair Airlines to fork over hundreds of dollars in compensation to a man whose crab meat and fish cakes went bad in his luggage when it was delayed for several days.

The discount carrier must pay Brian Vu $780 for the spoiled items as well as baggage fees, interest and legal costs, according to a ruling Thursday from the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal.

Vu flew from British Columbia to Ontario on Nov. 6, 2022, paying $72 to check a pair of bags, one of which did not arrive until Nov. 10.

The tardy luggage contained sea cucumbers — leathery marine animals — and dandelion root as well as the crab and fish, all of which went bad, amounting to a loss of $522, the traveller said.

Flair argued it was not liable because its actions did not cause the spoilage; “rather, the items spoiled on their own,” wrote tribunal member Peter Mennie, paraphrasing the airline. Flair also said its contract with passengers bars them from packing perishable items in checked bags.

However, the tribunal said carriers are responsible for suitcases once they are checked, regardless of whether they contain items they shouldn’t.

“The Canadian Transportation Agency has repeatedly held that if an airline accepts checked baggage then the airline assumes liability for the baggage even if the airline has not agreed to transport certain items,” Mennie wrote.

“An airline is liable if damage occurs during any period where the checked bag was in the airline’s care,” he said, citing the Montreal Convention, a multilateral treaty on liability and compensation for air travellers.

The Canada Transportation Act does “not permit an airline to contract out of its liability,” which is laid out in the passenger rights charter and the Montreal Convention, Mennie added.

The ruling confirms that “fancy contractual language” does not override federal rules, said Gabor Lukacs, president of the Air Passenger Rights advocacy group.

“Airlines love to contract out liability, even though the law says they have to pay compensation,” Lukacs said.

“The importance of this case is that it reaffirms the well-established principle that that is not doable, that’s not permissible under the law in Canada.”

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today