Canadian airlines cram to obey obesity ruling

(Illustration for my column by MSNBC’s Duane Hoffman)

“You’ve dawdled this whole year. Now stop all that bellyaching and get on with it.”

That’s pretty much the message Canada’s Supreme Court gave to the country’s major airlines at the end of November. Now, after spending a year trying to weasel out of it with repeated court appeals, Canadian airlines are scrambling to figure out how to meet the January 10th, 2009 deadline for complying with “One-Person-One-Fare” policy mandated by the Canadian Transportation Agency, or CTA.

Its groundbreaking legislation that some hope – and others fear – may spread to the United States and elsewhere. So pay attention.

Under the new rules, which will apply only to domestic flights, Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet cannot charge more than one fare to persons with disabilities who cannot fly without the help of an attendant.

Few people will take issue with that.

What some folks are taking issue with, however, is the part of the ruling that also promises a complimentary second seat to passengers who are “determined to be functionally disabled by obesity.”

Find out what that means – and what several experts think it should mean – in my Well Mannered Traveler column posted today on MSNBC.com.