Ontario Civil

Air Law

Airline had been entitled to refuse plaintiff return transport

Plaintiff, Canadian citizen, travelled from Canada to Jamaica on defendant airline for vacation using Canadian Citizenship Card as identification. When plaintiff attempted return to Canada one week later, airline refused permission to board without passport. Plaintiff produced Ontario driver’s licence, Ontario health insurance plan card and social insurance card, but airline refused to issue boarding pass without passport. Plaintiff made no effort to obtain emergency Canadian passport, but did obtain Jamaican passport and returned to Canada two weeks later. Plaintiff brought action for damages for breach of contract and negligence. Action dismissed. Both legislation and government policy required airlines to thoroughly screen passengers travelling to Canada so as to ensure they would be permitted entry on arrival. Defendant’s International and Trans-Border Tariff, required by regulation, gave airline right to refuse transport for any reason, including if travel documents not in order, and stipulated that airline not liable for any refusal to transport. Tariff also provided that any passenger desiring transport across international or transborder boundary responsible for obtaining all necessary travel documents. Identity Screening Regulations (Can.), under Aeronautics Act (Can.), required international passengers to produce government issued photo identification including name, date of birth and gender or restricted area identification card but did not claim exclusivity. Canada Border Services Agency published guide confirming transporters’ responsibility to ensure passengers properly documented and identifying passport as only reliable and universally accepted identification document. Guide also confirmed international transportation companies could require passengers to present passports and that passengers presenting other documents, such as Canadian Citizenship Card, could be subject to delays or refusals to transport. It specified Canadian Citizenship Card not travel document, but could be used as evidence of citizenship in Canada. Airline had been entitled to refuse plaintiff transport and had, in fact, operated in accordance with directives from Canada Border Services Agency concerning fraudulent use of Canadian Citizenship Cards in Jamaica.

Robotham v. WestJet Airlines (May. 26, 2014, Ont. S.C.J., Spence J., File No. CV-12-448628) 241 A.C.W.S. (3d) 4.

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