Written on January 4, 2012.
The Canadian Transportation Agency (“CTA”) released a decision on January 3, 2012 dismissing a complaint by an airline passenger seeking to establish that he was disabled due to his height.
The passenger, Malcolm Johnson, is 202 cm or about 6 feet 7 and ½ inches tall. He asked the CTA to order Air Canada to eliminate the additional fees charged to persons who, due to their height, need economy class seats that afford extra leg room. In addition, Mr. Johnson sought reimbursement “for all previous flights where [he had to pay] for extra leg room seating”. The passenger claimed that due to his height, he cannot sit in a “regular seat” without endangering his health due to restricted circulation in his legs from cramped seating.
In rendering its decision the CTA considered whether Mr. Johnson was a person with a disability for the purposes of Part V of the Canada Transportation Act, due to his height.
The CTA views a disability as comprising three dimensions: impairment, activity limitation and participation restriction, all of which must be established in order for a disability to exist.
The CTA referred to the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). The ICF explains that an impairment is a loss or abnormality in body structure or physiological function (including mental functions). The CTA expressed the opinion that a limitation must be significant enough to result in an inherent difficulty in executing a task or action. In order to be found to be a person with a disability the applicant has an evidentiary burden to demonstrate that they:
However the CTA concluded that Mr. Johnson did not provide evidence to demonstrate either a loss or abnormality in body structure or physiological function associated with his height. As such, it found that he did not meet his evidentiary burden of demonstrating the existence of an impairment, which is a pre-requisite to a finding of disability. Accordingly his application was dismissed. The full text of the ruling is found at: http://www.otc-cta.gc.ca/eng/ruling/2-at-a-2012