B.C. Supreme Court gives OK to class-action lawsuit against WestJet over baggage fee

A class action lawsuit against WestJet Airlines has been approved by the BC Supreme Court.

This week, British Columbia Supreme Court Justice J. Francis ruled in favor of Plaintiff Phebe-Joy Trotman, who was on trial against WestJet over baggage charges from 2014 to 2019.

In the lengthy court ruling, which can be viewed here, the plaintiff alleged that WestJet charged a baggage fee during a period when customers did not have to pay a fee for their first checked baggage.

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“The plaintiff alleges that WestJet was in breach of competition law, breached its contract with its customers and was unjustly enriched by charging baggage fees in a manner that contradicts WestJet’s own tariffs,” the court ruling stated.

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The decision also stated that “every commercial airline in Canada is required by law to publish fares that are part of the airline’s contract with each of its customers”.

For domestic flights, the obligation to publish and display tariffs is laid down in the Canada Transportation Act. For international flights, the requirement is set out in the air traffic regulations.

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The court ruling detailed WestJet’s baggage fees and found that “WestJet’s domestic tariff from October 2014 to March 2016 contained conflicting provisions regarding the price of first checked baggage on a WestJet domestic flight”.

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For example, it says, “The airline will accept one piece of checked baggage for a passenger only for the flight the passenger is traveling on.”

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But it also says: “A first, second, third or fourth checked bag … will be charged according to the fee tables below.”

It was also noted that “Between September 2014 and February 2018, WestJet charged passengers traveling domestically on Econo Fares, WestJet Vacations and Group Fares for their first checked bag.”

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The court ruling also said that WestJet’s international fare from January 17, 2016 to March 2019 had a similar inconsistency.

The court found that Section 54 of the Competition Act “makes it a criminal offense for a dealer to express two or more prices to a customer at the time of purchase and to charge the higher price”.

The decision also described WestJet’s arguments, but the court ultimately endorsed Trotman stating, “I find the plaintiff met the requirements for certification under s. 4 of the (Class Proceedings Act). Accordingly, I am confirming this matter as a class proceeding. “

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The court then announced that the parties should hold a case management conference within 90 days.

Global News reached out to WetJet regarding the court ruling, but the company declined to comment, saying the matter was still in court.

Click here to play the video.

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