Frequent Flyer Class Action

A decision by Canadian Airlines International Limited (CAIL) to terminate its agreement with Amex Bank of Canada (Amex) as of April 24, 2000 has triggered a class action against Amex by a number of its Platinum Cardmembers. CAIL made the decision while under court ordered protection during the restructuring that CAIL and the Canadian Airlines Corporation (CAC) had entered under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) in order to restructure its debt prior to merging with Air Canada.

The termination of the agreement (which defined CAIL’s obligations in connection with Amex’s Membership Rewards Program) meant that Amex Cardmembers as of the termination date could no longer transfer their Amex Membership Rewards Points to C+ frequent flyer points. Other benefits which CAIL ceased honouring as of that date included the Canadian Airlines Companion Travel Certificates which had been issued to Amex Platinum Cardmembers.

Amex is represented in the CAIL restructuring by a team from Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in Toronto and Calgary including Tracy Sandler, Tristram Mallett (Calgary), and John MacDonald. Heading up the defence of the class actions and dealing with the defamation issues are Deborah Glendinning, Randy Pepper and Mahmud Jamal, also from Osler’s Toronto office. CAIL is being represented by Anthony Friend, Q.C. and Martin Kay, Q.C. from Bennett Jones in Calgary. The class action plaintiff groups are being represented by John Porter of Meighen, Demers in Toronto and Malcolm Ruby from Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP in Toronto.