Lifestyle & Belief

Couple sues Air Canada after ordering a 7UP in French and getting Sprite


An Ottawa couple is suing Air Canada for thousands of dollars after the carrier allegedly did not provide service in French. The Canadian Supreme Court has accepted to hear the case.


Andrew Cowie

Fresh after the infamous pastagate, Canada's linguistic diversity is stirring up trouble once again.

This time, a couple traveling on Air Canada is suing the company for not providing bilingual serving staff during the flight.

Michel and Lynda Thibodeau apparently asked for 7UP but instead received Sprite during a flight in 2000.

That was just the beginning.

Though even native English speakers have likely run into this problem, the couple sued for $525,000 in damages. They got just over $5000.

They later formally complained about bilingual bus services in Canada's capital Ottawa.

Michel was soon honored by the language rights group Imperatif Francais for his activism.

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They then accused Air Canada eight other times of not providing bilingual staff on flights between January and May 2009.

A Federal court ruled in their favor and awarded the couple $12,000 but an appeals court lowered that amount.

Now the Supreme Court of Canada will decide whether or not to uphold a lower court decision to award less money and an apology.

Many of the unilingual flights were between English-speaking Canada and the United States.

Air Canada admitted that in some instances they weren't prepared to provide bilingual services or attendants but that it was not systematic breach of Canadian law.

The Official Languages Act requires Air Canada to provide bilingual services in Quebec, Ottawa and “where there is significant demand for those services in the minority language and where it is warranted by the nature of the office or facility.”