Nova Scotia

Claim dismissed in dispute over cancelled Air Canada flight that delayed Halifax man's trip

A Halifax man whose Air Canada flight was cancelled due to a mechanical malfunction in January 2020 won't be getting any compensation, a Nova Scotia adjudicator has ruled.

Darrel Geddes argued he was owed $400 in compensation after trip to Florida delayed 5 hours

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport in Toronto in April. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

A Halifax man whose Air Canada flight was cancelled due to a mechanical malfunction in January 2020 won't be getting any compensation for his wait, a Nova Scotia adjudicator has ruled.

Darrel Geddes sued the largest airline in Canada in small claims court after his flight to Florida was cancelled early last year and he was denied compensation, Darrel Pink wrote in his decision last month.

Geddes was scheduled to leave Halifax at 7:55 a.m. AT on Jan. 31, 2020, and was expected to arrive in Orlando at 2:52 p.m. ET the same day.

But about two hours before his flight was scheduled to leave, Geddes was told the first flight of his trip, Air Canada Flight 8893 to Boston, had been cancelled.

Air Canada didn't offer Geddes an explanation but around 7:45 a.m. AT, the airline rebooked his flight for a later time.

Geddes arrived in Orlando at 7:54 p.m. ET, five hours and two minutes later than his original scheduled arrival time.

Initial claim denied

Two weeks later, Geddes submitted a request for standard compensation under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations, which govern passenger rights when a flight disruption occurs.

The regulations state that an airline must provide minimum compensation of $400 if the passenger's original arrival time is delayed by three hours or more, but less than six.

Air Canada denied Geddes's claim and said "the delay was caused by an event outside our control."

Under the regulations, airlines are required to provide compensation unless the cancellation is beyond their control, or deemed necessary due to mechanical malfunctions that could pose safety risks.

In these situations, airlines must provide alternatives or offer a refund, which is what Air Canada did for Geddes, Pink wrote in his decision.

Still, Geddes argued that the cancellation had been within Air Canada's control and he was owed compensation.

Problem with left propeller

During the court proceedings, Air Canada provided maintenance logs that explained that a malfunction had occurred on January 30, 2020, the night before Geddes's flight.

The plane was grounded at 10:45 p.m. because of a defect similar to one noted the week before. Maintenance logs show that a piece of the left propeller, which had been recently inspected, needed to be replaced.

The plane was fixed and returned to service at 8:22 a.m., just hours after Geddes's flight had been cancelled.

Geddes argued that the maintenance was not completed in a timely manner on account of the previous defect message that was reported a week earlier.

Although there was a similar defect message, the in-service technical manager of the plane said "there was no direct link between the issues in the previous week and the grounding."

Pink didn't accept Geddes's argument and denied his claim.

"I cannot find the repairs were not done promptly or that there was anything done by the Defendant that prevented them from being completed sooner," Pink wrote.

Despite denying the claim based on the Air Passenger Protection Regulations, Pink heavily criticized those rules, which were established in 2019, in his decision.

He said the process of making a claim is so "complex and legalistic" that few people would actually take the initiative to seek compensation.

Despite that, it was determined that the flight cancellation resulted from a malfunction that was not within Air Canada's control and the cancellation was necessary for safety reasons.

"Once the flight was cancelled, the Defendant met its obligations under the APPR to rebook the Claimant on an alternative flight to get him to his destination as soon as possible," the ruling states.

According to Gabor Lukacs, Geddes's agent, the adjudicator's decision is already under appeal.