Air Canada ordered to refund passenger after AI chatbot’s ‘misleading’ messages

Air Canada has been ordered to refund passengers who were mistakenly promised cheaper bereavement fares by the airline’s AI chatbot. This could be a breakthrough decision as more companies use artificial intelligence to service their customers.

Vancouver resident Jack Moffat asked his airline’s support chatbot if it offered bereavement fees after his grandmother passed away in November 2022.

The chatbot told the grieving grandson that he could request a discount within 90 days of flying.

Air Canada was ordered to pay $812 in refunds to passengers because they were promised $812 in refunds by the airline’s chatbot. Getty Images

However, airlines’ actual bereavement policies do not include post-flight refunds. It also states that all discounts must be approved first.

Moffat ultimately booked a round-trip ticket to Toronto for the funeral for about $1,200, but when she contacted Air Canada for a refund, she said she was told she was not eligible. According to court filings.

According to the complaint, the man sent Air Canada numerous emails with screenshots of his conversations with the chatbot in an attempt to get his money back.

However, on February 8, 2023, an Air Canada representative told him that the chatbot had provided “misleading language” and that the discount would not be applied retroactively due to the company’s bereavement policy.

Moffat was told by the airline that the chatbot would be updated so that its messages matched the information posted on the company’s website.

Angry passengers then filed suit against the airline, which argued in court that the chatbot was a “separate legal entity” and therefore liable for its actions.

Last week, a Canadian court sided with Moffat and ordered Air Canada to refund about $600.

“Although the chatbot has an interactive component, it is still only part of Air Canada’s website. It should be clear to Air Canada that it is responsible for all information on its website.” wrote Christopher Rivers, a member of the British Columbia Provincial Court’s Civil Resolution Tribunal.

Air Canada tried to avoid refunds by claiming chatbot provided them "Misleading words."
Air Canada tried to avoid a refund by claiming the chatbot provided “misleading language.” Getty Images

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

“I don’t think Air Canada took reasonable care to ensure the chatbot was accurate,” Rivers continued. “While Air Canada maintains that Mr. Moffat was able to find the correct information elsewhere on the website, the web page titled ‘Bereavement Travel’ is inherently more trustworthy than the airline’s chatbot. It doesn’t explain why they can. Nor does it explain why customers should double-check information in one part of the website in another part of the website.”

On Monday, the chatbot introduced last year was no longer available on Air Canada’s site.

An Air Canada spokesperson said the airline will abide by the court’s decision.

“We believe this matter is closed,” a representative told the Post on Monday.



Sign up to stay informed to breaking news