Canada Strengthens Air Passenger Rights & Institutes Compensation Scheme For Delays/Cancellations/Downgrades

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The Canadian Transportation Agency today announced set of new regulations that will take effect on July 15 and December 15, 2019.

Air Canada

The regulations apply to airlines that transport passengers to/from or within Canada including connecting itineraries. This reminds me of, to a certain extent, what is in place in Europe (EC 261/2004).

You can read more about the new regulation here.

Here’s the announcement from Canadian Transportation Agency:

May 24, 2019 – Gatineau, QC – Canadian Transportation Agency

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) announced today that the Air Passenger Protection Regulations are now finalized. The regulations will come into effect in two stages.

Beginning July 15, 2019, airlines will have to:

  • communicate to passengers in a simple, clear way information on their rights and recourses and regular updates in the event of flight delays and cancellations;
  • provide compensation of up to $2,400 for bumping a passenger for reasons within their control;
  • ensure passengers receive standards of treatment during all tarmac delays and allow them to leave the airplane, when it’s safe to do so, if a tarmac delay lasts for over three hours and there’s no prospect of an imminent take-off;
  • provide compensation for lost or damaged baggage of up to $2,100 and a refund of any baggage fees; and
  • set clear policies for transporting musical instruments.

Beginning December 15, 2019, airlines will have to:

  • provide compensation of up to $1,000 for flight delays and cancellations within an airline’s control that are not safety-related;
  • rebook or refund passengers when flights are delayed, including, in some cases, using a competing airline to get passengers to their destination;
  • provide food, drink and accommodation when passengers’ flights are delayed; and
  • facilitate the seating of children under 14 years in close proximity to an accompanying adult, at no extra charge.

The final regulations reflect input that the CTA received from the public, consumer rights groups, and the airline industry during extensive consultations held from May 28 to August 28, 2018 and during a 60-day comment period following the publication of draft regulations on December 22, 2018. The regulations are being made by the CTA under the Canada Transportation Act, as amended by the Transportation Modernization Act on May 23, 2018.

Here’s an excerpt from the CBC (access their piece here):

Starting July 15, passengers who are prevented from boarding an aircraft because of overbooking will be compensated financially depending on the length of time they are delayed from reaching their final destination.

Overbooking delays of less than six hours will require a minimum $900 payment, delays between six and nine hours mean a minimum $1,800 payment and delays longer than nine hours will see passengers compensated a minimum of $2,400.

As of December 15, airlines will have to provide compensation to passengers for delayed or cancelled flights depending on the size of the airline.

Delayed arrival at a final destination of between three to six hours will cost large airlines $400 and small airlines $125. Delays of between six to nine hour will cost large airlines $700 and small airlines $250. Delays greater than nine hours will cost large airlines $1,000 and smaller airlines half that amount.

The regulations do not only require an airline ensure the passenger gets to their final destination, but that they do so in the same class of service.

Conclusion

Glad that Canada has decided to strengthen their consumer protections when it comes to air travel.

Sometimes it feels like airlines believe that they are doing you a favor when they transport you to your final destination on a paid ticket especially when irregular operations take place.

Only way to make sure that passengers are treated fairly is to ensure that proper incentives are in place – read it is expensive for the airlines to mess up.

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