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My dad with severe mental illness bought an airline ticket. The airline then maltreated passengers, which caused him to choose to not fly the return leg. Is the airline obligated to return half of his money?

Facts:

In Jan. 2017, he bought a roundtrip fare on Air Transat’s (henceforth “TS”) website, from London Gatwick to Toronto in Feb. 2017 and returning in Sep. 2017.

He read news of TS’s passenger maltreatment and mendacity, lost all trust in TS, and decided not to fly. Around Aug. 15 2017, he told TS all this (particularly his mental illness) and requested refund for the unspent leg. But TS replied that the terms and conditions authorized only refund of taxes.

TS Flight 157:

Passengers on two Air Transat flights were stuck on planes at the Ottawa airport for hours on Monday after being diverted due to stormy weather, and at least two of them called 911.

"The plane actually lost power and went zero AC [air conditioning], and then now we've got the doors open and one kid is puking, and people are just losing their minds," she [Laura Mah] said.

TS Flight 507:

Gatineau, Que., resident Josée Binet described the situation as untenable, telling Radio-Canada she called 911 around 9:30 p.m. ET to ask for help.

By the time they arrived in Montreal, Binet and the other passengers had been sitting on the plane for about 15 hours.

On Aug. 11 2017, TS offered $400 as compensation for failed air conditioning.

On Nov. 30 2017, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) decided against TS.

In a statement, Air Transat apologized to passengers and said it will take all necessary measures to comply with the CTA's report. It has decided to pay passengers on all affected flights $500 in compensation, though it will take into account what has already been paid out to passengers.

Relevant paragraphs from CTA’s Determination

[2] Passengers on Flight Nos. 157 and 507 reported challenging onboard conditions on social media and the news media reported on the events. In addition, the Agency received 48 complaints from passengers of Flight No. 157 and 24 complaints from passengers of Flight No. 507. The media reports and passengers’ complaints referred to limited water and food services, high temperatures, limited ventilation, passengers becoming physically ill, and the fact that passengers of Flight No. 157 called emergency responders (911) to seek assistance.

[86] The evidence shows that the flight directors and flight attendants of both flights were unaware of the Tariff’s provisions, Captain Lussier was unfamiliar with the Tariff, and Captain Saint-Laurent was familiar with the Tariff but never received training on its application. Air Transat’s failure to ensure that its employees were aware of the content of the Tariff and were trained on its application contributed to the Tariff not being properly applied.

[93] Based on the foregoing, the Agency concludes that passengers on Flight Nos. 157 and 507 were either not offered snacks and drinks at all or not offered snacks and drinks to a reasonable degree, and that there were no safety or other mitigating factors (such as a scarcity of supplies) that would justify this failing. The Agency therefore finds that Air Transat failed to properly apply the terms and conditions set out in Rule 5.2d) and Rule 21.3c) of its Tariff on both flights in respect of offering drinks and snacks, and has contravened subsection 110(4) of the ATR.

[122] In light of the foregoing, the Agency finds that Air Transat failed to properly apply the terms and conditions set out in Rules 5.2(d) and Rule 21(3)(c) of its Tariff on both flights in respect of disembarking, and has contravened subsection 110(4) of the ATR.

[144] Notwithstanding the fact that the diversion of Flight Nos. 157 and 507 was beyond Air Transat’s control and the length of the subsequent tarmac delays was partly out of its control, the Agency has found, on the evidence, that the carrier failed to properly apply those provisions of its Tariff that set out its obligations in the event of such a delay.

CTA’s Investigation Report

Pursuant to section 180 of the Canada Transportation Act, DEO Girard believes that Air Transat has committed a violation of subsection 110(4) of the Air Transportation Regulations on the basis of the Agency's finding and for the reasons set out in the Determination.

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Once you enter into a contract you are bound by its terms. How the other party to the contract reportedly behaves towards third parties is irrelevant - what matters is how it behaves towards you and if that behavior is or is not within the terms.

With respect to the contract between TS and your father, TS had fulfilled their obligations to him (up to that point) and he had no grounds to terminate the contract other than in accordance with the terms he agreed with.

In general, mental illness does not render a person incapable of forming a contract unless it is both severe enough and obvious enough that it renders the person legally incompetent (i.e. so severe that they would need a guardian appointed) - this doesn't appear to be the case. At law, the behaviour a person is expected to display is the behaviour of a reasonable person - any personal idiosyncrasies, such as mental illness, are not excuses for failing to do so.

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