Airline Learns Sprite no Substitute for 7UP

July 25, 2011 ( - An Air Canada flight attendant's apparent inability to understand a request for 7UP spoken in French has led to a court award of $12,000 to two passengers.

Business Insurance reports that Michel Thibodeau and his wife each sued Air Canada for $25,000, plus $500,000 in punitive damages, for that and other alleged failures to provide services in French as required by Canada’s Official Languages Act. Mr. Thibodeau received a Sprite in response to his 7UP request.  

According to the decision this month by the Ottawa-based Federal Court, he alleged the couple’s “linguistic rights” were violated by Air Canada employees’ “malicious, oppressive and reprehensible” conduct, Business Insurance said.  

The decision calls for Air Canada to “make every reasonable effort” to comply with the law and introduce within six months a “proper monitoring system and procedures to quickly identify, document and quantify potential violations of its language duties.” Justice Marie-Josee Bedard wrote: “Even though Air Canada is making efforts to comply with its linguistic duties, problems persist.”  

According to Business Insurance, Air Canada denied its employees demonstrated an arrogant attitude, and an official said enough bilingual flight attendants are on fights with a significant demand for services in French.