Canadian Transportation Agency Rules In Favor of Air Canada Over Intermodal Cyclists

The Strida folding bike is designed to meet the internationally agreed rules for luggage dimensions, and many people travel all over the world with theirs. Yet when I flew to Boston for Greenbuild last year, Air Canada decided that it was a bike, not a bag, and charged me fifty bucks for the privilege of having me carry it through customs and putting it on the ramp with all of the other luggage. I complained; they said drop dead. I went the next step and took them to the regulator, the Canadian Transportation Agency.

In the end, they completely ignored the issues involved and said drop dead too. And I really thought I had it in the bag.

In June, I reported that the Agency had given Air Canada ten days to prove that my bike got special handling, and I thought I had a victory; there was no way they could do this because there is no chain of custody of the bag in their hands when you cross the border, you have to carry your bag through customs yourself and put it on the belt.

Their response was lame; they could not prove I had special treatment, and tried to deny even that it was their responsibility. I was certain I had them.

But alas, it was not to be; in the decision just issued, the Canadian Transportation Agency simply concludes, among other things:

[14] The Agency is of the opinion that, generally, air carriers should have the flexibility to establish their terms and conditions of carriage and to price their services as they see fit, subject to legislative or regulatory constraints.

In other words, they can do whatever they want.

[15] In light of the submissions filed by Air Canada, the Agency accepts that the carriage of bicycles requires additional and special handling procedures that are unique to such carriage. The procedures implemented by Air Canada require that bicycles be picked up at the check-in counter or oversized area and hand delivered to the baggage room and that, upon arrival, the bicycles be specifically hand-delivered by an employee from the baggage room to a special oversized belt or a drop-off area.

Even though they didn't.

[26] In light of the foregoing, the Agency dismisses the complaint.

In the light of the foregoing, a citizen making a complaint without a lawyer doesn't have a chance at the Canadian Transportation Agency.



Fortunately I have options; when faced with the same issue on JetBlue, a passenger complained, it got picked up by Consumerist and they changed their policies. They now say logically:

Our bicycle policy has now been updated to reflect that Customers traveling with a folding bikes in a bag that fits within the standard checked bag weights and dimensions (62 inches in overall dimensions and 50 pounds in weight -- see our baggage requirements here) will not be charged the Bike fee and will be treated like any checked bag.

Intermodal travel could be the future of cycling; a good light folding bike can travel by subway, train or taxi as easily as any other bag, increasing a cyclist's options and range. If Air Canada doesn't get this, other airlines do, and I will fly them instead.

Previous posts in this story:
My War Against Air Canada's Bike Rules Turns Into War of Attrition
Air Canada to Intermodal Cyclists: Drop Dead
How Air Canada Lost a Customer Who Was Trying to be Green

Tags: Transportation

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