Montreal Convention Delay Claims Must be Reasonable

A Halifax passenger booked with Air Canada to fly from Halifax to Beirut, via Montreal.  The flight segment from Montreal to Paris was cancelled due to a maintenance issue.  Air Canada scheduled a replacement flight which left Montreal later than the originally scheduled departure time.  To compensate for the delay, Air Canada offered the passenger an upgrade on the Montreal/Paris segment of the rescheduled flight as well as $1,300 in flight vouchers.

The passenger rejected Air Canada’s offers and elected instead to book flights with another carrier which arrived in Lebanon sooner than the rescheduled Air Canada flight.  In order to secure those flights, the passenger had to travel business class.  The passenger sued Air Canada for the full cost of his replacement tickets at the business class fare.

The Montreal Convention is an international convention that governs the liability of air carriers engaged in international carriage.  Article 19 of the Montreal Convention imposes liability on an air carrier for damages “occasioned by delay” but it does not define the meaning of “occasioned by delay”.  Article 22 of the Montreal Convention limits that liability to 4,694 Special Drawing Rights.

The Plaintiff was unsuccessful in Small Claims Court and appealed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, which concluded that damages occasioned by delay should be limited to “those damages that can reasonably be seen as a result of the delay” such as increased expenses for food, drink or lodging that would not otherwise have been necessary.  The court concluded that the price of business class tickets did not reasonably fall within the ambit of damages “occasioned by delay”.  (Click here for decision.)

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