Lawsuit argues new air travel rules violate passengers' charter rights

OTTAWA — Two advocates have filed a lawsuit against Canada’s transport regulator, arguing that new air travel rules that allow tarmac delays of nearly four hours violate the charter rights of some Canadians living with a disability.

Bob Brown, a disability rights advocate, says the long-awaited regulations reduce by up to 2,000 kilometres the distance he can travel by air without putting his health at risk.

Brown, who is quadriplegic, says his disability limits how long he can spend in an airline seat before severe pain and pressure sores set in.

He and passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs are asking the Federal Court of Appeal to hear the case against the Canadian Transportation Agency, arguing the rules violate equality rights, which prohibit discrimination based on physical disability.

The regulations allow airlines to keep travellers on the tarmac for up to three hours and 45 minutes, more than twice the time recommended by a Senate committee last year and up from 90 minutes under current rules.

Announced by Transport Minister Marc Garneau in May, the first phase of the travel regulations meant to help frustrated air passengers will come into effect next month.

The Canadian Press