Passenger advocate appeals decision that says he's not large enough to challenge airline

Gabor Lukacs will need to convince three judges to make the Canadian Transportation Agency address a complaint he filed about Delta Airlines involving "discriminatory practices" around large or obese customers.

Canadian Transportation Agency says Gabor Lukacs not in a position to advocate on behalf of obese customers

Consumer advocate and frequent flier Gabor Lukacs has won dozens of cases advocating for passenger rights. (CBC)

An airline customer advocate from Nova Scotia will appear at the Federal Court of Appeal Monday to convince three judges to make the Canadian Transportation Agency address a complaint he filed about Delta Airlines.

Gabor Lukacs, who has pursued dozens of successful complaints against airlines in the past, says Delta has "discriminatory practices of bumping so-called larger passengers from full flights in the hope of forcing them to buy two seats."

When Lukacs filed a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency in 2014, he was told he lacked standing because he is not large or obese.

'His rights are not affected'

In its written decision to dismiss Lukacs' complaint, the agency wrote "his rights are not affected by the impugned practices" and said that he would not "suffer any prejudices if he elected to travel with Delta." 

Lukacs says the fact he isn't large or obese shouldn't matter. He says there is a greater public concern to address and that the CTA has been letting this case drag on for two years.

"This whole question of how large I am, whether I'm large enough to complain is a red herring," Lukacs told CBC News in an interview by phone.

"It's completely irrelevant because what is being protected and what needs to be protected is the public at large, not me personally."

Protecting consumers

Lukacs questions why the CTA is challenging his complaint in the first place.

"If, for example, a worker notices contaminated meat from a supermarket on a production line, that person certainly has the ability and should have the ability to be able to say 'hey this is putting the public at risk,'" he said.

"If the hook in the complaint is interpreted in such a narrow way as the agency proposes, essentially it would also mean you could complain about contaminated meat only if you bought it and you got sick from it which really defeats the purpose of preventing damage for the public."

About the Author

Anjuli Patil

Reporter

Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.

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