Air Canada Chatbot Oversteps: Tribunal Steps In, Orders Compliance

A British Columbian passenger was told he could not have a refund on bereavement purchases despite buying tickets based on what Air Canada’s AI chatbot had initially told them.

Air Canada Ordered to Refund Passenger

Image Credit: Shutterstock / SFIO CRACHO

A Canadian tribunal has ruled that Air Canada must provide a partial refund to a Vancouver man, Jake Moffatt, based on promises made by the airline’s AI chatbot.

Bereavement Fare Inquiry

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Bits And Splits

Moffatt was dealing with the tragic death of his grandmother in November 2022 and approached Air Canada’s chatbot to inquire about bereavement fares.

The chatbot assured him of a discount, indicating a post-flight refund option within 90 days.

Chatbot’s Misleading Message

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Tero Vesalainen

The Chatbot originally said to Moffatt, “If you need to travel immediately or have already travelled and would like to submit your ticket for a reduced bereavement rate, kindly do so within 90 days of the date your ticket was issued by completing our Ticket Refund Application form.” 

Relying on the Chatbot

Image Credit: Shutterstock / KieferPix

Influenced by the chatbot’s instructions, Moffatt bought a one-way ticket from Vancouver to Toronto for $590 before buying a return for an extra $627 with the promise of a refund later down the line.

Chatbot’s Assurances vs. Airline’s Bereavement Policy

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Zerbor

Despite the chatbot’s assurances, the airline’s actual bereavement policy does not include a post-flight refund, making the AI chatbot’s response unreliable.

Chatbot’s Misleading Words

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Drazen Zigic

Moffatt sought a partial refund that was promised by the chatbot but faced resistance from Air Canada, which dismissed the chatbot’s responses as “misleading words.”

Chatbot as a “Separate Legal Entity”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Freedomz

Air Canada argued in the civil tribunal that the chatbot should be considered a “separate legal entity” and that it is “responsible for its own actions” despite being owned by the airline.

Tribunal Ruling

Image Credit: Shutterstock / New Africa

Tribunal member Christopher Rivers ruled in favor of Moffatt, determining that Air Canada committed “negligent misrepresentation” and must honor the promises made by the chatbot.

Chatbot as Part of Air Canada’s Responsibility

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Freedomz

Rivers dismissed Air Canada’s argument, asserting, “While a chatbot has an interactive component, it is still just a part of Air Canada’s website.”

Air Canada’s Negligence

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Salivanchuk Semen

“It makes no difference whether the information comes from a static page or a chatbot,” Rivers continued.

Air Canada’s “Obvious” Mistake

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff

Rivers argued that it should have been “obvious” to Air Canada that they would be held responsible for the chatbot’s mistake.

Ordered Refund and Damages

Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes

Air Canada is ordered to fulfill the promised refund, and Moffatt is entitled to damages, calculated based on the extra fees and taxes he would have paid, amounting to $650.

Lack of Due Diligence

Image Credit: Shutterstock / only_kim

Rivers criticized Air Canada, “I find Air Canada did not take reasonable care to ensure its chatbot was accurate,” while also ordering the airline to pay extra fees to Moffatt.

Chatbot’s Instructions Deemed Reasonable

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Boris023

Moffatt’s reliance on the chatbot’s instructions is deemed reasonable, “While Air Canada argues Mr. Moffatt could find the correct information on another part of its website, it does not explain why the webpage titled ‘Bereavement travel’ was inherently more trustworthy than its chatbot,” Rivers explained.

Doubts Cast on Air Canada’s Web Content

Image Credit: Shutterstock / photobyphotoboy

Rivers questioned why customers should have to double-check information, “It also does not explain why customers should have to double-check information found in one part of its website on another part of its website,” he said.

Protecting Passenger’s Rights

Image Credit: Shutterstock / wellphoto

The President of Air Passenger Right, Gabor Lukacs, said, “It’s a cutting edge ruling when it comes to technology,” and “It’s a great ruling, I’m really pleased.”

Evolution in Air Canada’s Digital Presence

Image Credit: Pexels / Rodrigo Santos

The chatbot, launched last year, was taken down from Air Canada’s customer service section of the website after the airline lost the lawsuit.

Moffatt’s Months of Agony

Image Credit: Shutterstock / larry1235

According to the tribunal, Moffatt tried for months to claim his refund only to be refused on multiple occasions by Air Canada’s staff. Still, the company has now admitted they will comply with the ruling.

A Revolutionary Ruling

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov

The ruling is the first of its kind and shows the world that companies can not hide behind the notion that AI has a mind of its own.

The post Air Canada Chatbot Oversteps: Tribunal Steps In, Orders Compliance first appeared on Swift Feed.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / WorldStock.

Leave a Comment