New air travel regulations regarding issues including tarmac delays and compensation for bumped flights will come into effect this year in two stages, with the first group of regulations set to take effect this summer.
The new rules are part of the Canadian Transportation Agency's (CTA) Air Passenger Protection Regulations, a document
"The Air Passenger Protection Regulations establish a clear, consistent set of minimum airline obligations towards passengers if, for example, their flight is delayed or cancelled, they're bumped from an overbooked flight, they sit on a plane during a tarmac delay, or their bag is lost or damaged,” said Scott Streiner, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency. “Thousands of Canadians participated in the consultations that helped shape these new rules. We're grateful for their input, and confident that these groundbreaking regulations will help ensure passengers are treated fairly if their air travel doesn't go smoothly."
Effective 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.
Another set of rules comes into effect on Dec. 15, 2019:
- 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.
A different view
Airline watchdog Gabor Lukacs of Air Passengers Rights, said that he was “alarmed” at the new rules, which he described as “airline-friendly regulations that reduce the protections afforded to Canadian travellers,” alleging that the draft regulations, released in December 2018, "attracted substantial criticism from consumer rights advocates, with more than 8,000 emails of protest to the government from the public."
In an emailed statement, Lukacs criticized several aspects of the new regulations, including the three-hour time limit for tarmac delays, which he said doubled from a previous Canadian standard of 90 minutes; and what he alleges is a “narrow definition” of ‘denied boarding,’ as well as the caveat of ‘within an airline’s control’ regarding compensation for delays and cancellations, wordings which he believes will result in few passengers receiving financial compensation.
According to the CTA, the final regulations reflect input that the agency received from the public, consumer rights groups, and the airline industry during extensive consultations held from May 28 to Aug. 28, 2018 and during a 60-day comment period following the publication of draft regulations on Dec. 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.
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