People with disabilities who need someone to accompany them on an airplane are now allowed to bring a caregiver free of charge when flying on a Canadian airline. It was reported in the CBC that this came about because the Canadian Transportation Agency ruled that the airlines had a duty to accomodate people with disabilities and that to do so did not impose an undue hardship on the airlines. It was appealed by the airlines but the Federal Court of Appeal agreed with the transportation agency.Then the airlines appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada who also turned them down.
This advocacy was initiated in 2002 by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and two individuals to whom we owe our collective gratitude.
The rules are on the Canadian Transportation Agency website.
As of December 26, 2008 the airlines are still trying to develop policy based on the above ruling. It looks like people will need a doctor’s note and the criteria will be if the person requires support during the flight, rather than a companion or just needing support on either side of the airplane trip. There are still many questions about how restrictive this policy will be for passengers who have a disability.
One tip is that when you get your doctor’s note ensure that she/he writes the note in accordance with the policy (that the person requires in-flight support). To ensure that you have to get only one note, ask your doctor to indicate that the disability is permanent.
The ruling takes effect as of the new year. Please share your
experiences with us when you attempt to book a flight that includes an
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