Airlines could soon have to compensate passengers for delayed flights, lost bags

Dec 18 2018, 12:20 am

Canadian air passengers could soon be compensated for delays and lost luggage.

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau announced on Monday that the Government of Canada is one step closer to providing new air passenger protection rights for Canadians.

The Transportation Modernization Act amended the Canada Transportation Act to give the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) the authority to make regulations that will prescribe minimum compensation levels and standards of passenger treatment under certain circumstances, according to the federal government.

This will include flight and tarmac delays, cancellations and denied boarding (including bumping), lost or damaged baggage, and the seating of children under the age of 14.

“Our government’s goal is simple, it’s to provide air travellers with fair and balanced passenger rights, the ones that they deserve,” said Garneau at a press conference on Monday.

“Buying an air ticket can be a big expense for Canadian families, and we expect the airline to honour their end of the deal. An airline ticket is a contract for service and it imposes obligations on both the airline and the traveller.”

And to ensure full passenger protection, the regulations would apply to all flights to, from, and within Canada, including connecting flights. It would also apply to both large and small airlines.

The proposed regulations would require that passengers be informed of their rights in a timely, clear and accessible way. As well, airlines would be required to pay passengers compensation for flight delays or cancellations that are in their control and not related to safety. Passengers would be entitled to compensation based on the length of delay at arrival, as per the government:

If passengers are denied boarding for a reason that is within the airline’s control and is not required for safety – for example, commercial overbooking or a change in aircraft due to scheduled maintenance – they would be entitled to compensation. The compensation would be based on length of delay at arrival.

Under the proposed regulations, airlines can be held liable for baggage that is damaged or lost during international travel, up to approximately $2100. To provide better protection to passengers travelling within Canada, the federal government says this would apply to domestic travel as well.

And for children, airlines would have to facilitate, at no extra cost and at the earliest opportunity, the seating of children under 14 years of age in close proximity to their parent or guardian.

“We all know someone who has had a negative flight experience, except for circumstances which are beyond their control, we’re going to make sure that airlines treat their passengers with the respect they deserve and live up to their commitments,” said Garneau.

As of December 22, Canadians can visit Canada Gazette Part I to comment on Transport Canada’s proposed regulations on the collection of air travel performance data from air service providers.

It is expected that the final regulations will come into force in summer 2019.

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