New rules are coming to airlines on how to react and respond to Canadian travellers who have been affected by flight disruptions.
The Canadian government says up until now, the Air Passenger Protection Regulations required refunds to be provided for flight disruptions within the control of airlines.
The new requirements will require airlines to provide passengers with either a refund or rebooking, at the passenger’s choice, when there is a flight cancellation, or a lengthy delay, due to a situation outside the airline’s control that prevents it from ensuring that passengers complete their itinerary within a reasonable time.
They will apply to all flights to, from, and within Canada, including connecting flights, taking place after the coming into force of the regulations.
The new regulatory requirements:
- Require airlines to provide a passenger affected by a cancellation or a lengthy delay due to a situation outside the airline’s control with a confirmed reservation on the next available flight that is operated by them or a partner airline, leaving within 48 hours of the departure time indicated on the passenger’s original ticket. If the airline cannot provide a confirmed reservation within this 48-hour period, it will be required to provide, at the passenger’s choice, a refund or rebooking;
- Identify what costs must be refunded (unused portion of the ticket, which includes any unused add-on services paid for);
- Identify the method to be used for refunds (same as the original payment, e.g., a return on the person’s credit card);
- Require airlines to provide a refund within 30 days.
“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a gap in Canada’s air passenger protection framework: the absence of a requirement for airlines to refund tickets when flights are cancelled, or where there is a lengthy delay, for reasons outside airline control and it is not possible for the airline to ensure that the passenger’s itinerary is completed within a reasonable time,” the government of Canada said.
“Starting September 8, 2022, if an airline cannot rebook passengers within 48 hours of their original departure time, it will be required to provide at the passenger’s choice, a refund or rebooking, regardless of the type of ticket they purchased”, said France Pégeot, chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency.