Over the past few years, the Canadian Transportation Agency has developed a great concern that Canadians booking travel on air carriers, be made totally aware of the legal terms and conditions of the ticket.

In the old paper days of tickets, abbreviated and common language terms and conditions were printed as one of the pages in the ticket booklet (did any passenger know what the Warsaw Convention meant?).  With the advent of electronic ticketing and internet booking, the CTA decreed that all carriers establish a direct link on one of their booking pages, to its terms and conditions of carriage.  Most carriers had already a link to common language versions of their major terms and conditions.  That was not satisfactory to the regulatory authorities.

The CTA has taken and maintained the position that the legally binding terms and conditions between the Canadian originating passenger and the air carrier are those that are contained in the tariffs officially filed by the carrier with the CTA.  Those documents are totally unintelligible to any citizen of Canada – even for someone who has spent forty years alongside air carrier tariff matters.

Notwithstanding that lack of practicality, air carriers have been forced to establish a direct link in their booking process to the actual filed tariffs.  Air Canada has complied by establishing a link on its home booking page entitled “General Conditions of Carriage & TARIFFS” which will link the consumer to hundreds of pages for domestic, transborder, international and charter flights operated by AC.  As with most carriers, these are tariffs filed through Airline Tariff Publishing Company (ATPCo.), all in the unique language of tariff specialists.

In addition, the CTA has determined that these terms and conditions shall be made available to the passenger at all offices of the carrier where bookings can be made, as well as all check-in facilities.  The CTA has even specified signage requirements to be displayed by the carrier in those locations, advising the passenger of his accessibility to the tariffs at that location.

Most carriers, rather than maintaining massive printed tariff books at any location, are complying with this availability requirement of the CTA by making available to the passenger at all of its business locations, a computer through which the passenger can access the booking website link to the tariffs.

The requests by passengers for that access have proven minimal, save and except for the self-imposed enforcers, testing the system and then laying complaints to the CTA, as to the carrier’s alleged lack of compliance.