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article imageOp-Ed: Two Canadian airports ban ads by Flight Claim

By Ken Hanly     Jun 20, 2017 in Travel
The Quebec Company Flight Claim, based in Montreal, in April signed a contract for $73,000 that would allow them to run ads on baggage screens at Montreal's Pierre Elliot Trudeau airport.
The campaign started just last week and lasted only four days before it was abruptly stopped. The promotional ad claimed that passengers could receive up to $1,800 in compensation and to contact the company if they wanted help to fight their case. The ads can be seen here.
The general manager of Flight Claim, Jacob Charbonneau said: "We're just there to protect and help the rights of the passengers, so we feel it's kind of sad that we're not able to publicize in a free market" The company will take on passengers' claims in return for 25 percent of the compensation received. Charbonneau claimed that many passengers are unaware of their rights for delays, cancellations, and overbooked flights. The company website is here.
An email sent to Flight Claim by the airport's advertising agency said the ad was pulled after pressure from airlines. Stephanie Lepage, spokesperson the the airport said that the email was incorrect that the airlines had not requested the ad be removed. She said that the airport made the decision on its own in order not to create trouble for the airlines. She said: "Passengers, but also airlines, are our customers. We did not want to have a conflict between airlines and passengers." But obviously the decision favors the airlines not the passengers. While Flight Claim is out to make a profit it also would be informing passengers of their rights and helping them be enforced. Lepage said that the airport made a mistake in publishing the ads in the first place. Surely, that is because the airlines were complaining to the airport management just as the email to Flight Claim had said. The airport was obviously quite happy before the ads made it clear to passengers that they had certain rights against the airlines. The airport is trying to protect the airlines and not promote the rights of passengers.
Toronto's Pearson Airport is also refusing to display the ads. Charbonneau met in person with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority(GTAA) last week to argue for his case. The GTAA claimed the ads would confuse passengers about their rights because the federal government is in the process of creating new compensation guidelines and an upcoming passenger bill of rights. Spokesperson for the GTAA, Natalie Moncur said to CBC: "Before enabling businesses to profit by advertising to travelers, the GTAA has a responsibility to ensure that there is clarity for its passengers about what these new rules mean." This all sounds sensible until one finds out that the new rules won't come into force until some time in 2018. The whole argument is just a red herring meant to avoid talking about what is probably the reall reason for rejecting the ads, actual or potential opposition from the airlines.
Charbonneau argued that it was not fair to passengers passing through the GTAA property not to know their rights to compensation and it was a disservice to customers not to inform them of these rights. Charbonneau says he will be writing to both Transport Minister Marc Garneau and the Canadian Transportation Agency to lobby for the right to run his ads in both airports.
Flight Claim was founded in July of last year. They had begun the bid to put ads in Toronto on March 23rd when Charbonneau approached Astral Media the manager of ad space at Pearson. Charbonneau was asked for details about his business and whether or not they planned to sue airlines. Charbonneau said it was possible because they were in the business of defending passenger rights. Shortly after that, Flight Claim was denied its bid to advertise. As mentioned earlier, Charbonneau's meeting with the GTAA did not change the situation. Perhaps there is one bright note in all of this for Flight Claim. They have received a lot of free advertising by being turned down.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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