Airline passengers have new rights starting Sunday, as rules from the Canada Transportation Agency continue to come into force. The Air Passenger Protection Regulations were implemented in two phases, with the first phase starting on July 15th, which required airlines to meet certain obligations; including clear communication to passengers about their rights and timely updates for delays or cancellations. Some of the new rights involved protecting passengers from long waits stuck in planes, from being bumped from a flight with no compensation, and the luggage they leave in the airlines care. This weekend is the second phase of regulations, which will include; flight disruption protection, including compensation for certain types of delay of travel, standards of treatment for passengers, ensuring passengers complete their journey, and regulating the seating of children next to their parents or guardians.
When it comes to flight disruptions, airlines will have to provide passengers with information on the applicable standards of treatment and compensation. They will also have to tell passengers about their recourse options, including the ability to make a complaint to the Canadian Transportation Agency. The compensation will be based on the size of the airline and the length of the delay.
With minimum levels of compensation for flight delays or cancellations, that in the control of the airline and not related to safety, the passengers of large airlines can expect $400 for a 3-6 hour delay, $700 for 6-9 hours, and up to $1000 for over 9 hours. For smaller airlines the amounts are reduced to $125, $250, and $500.
A passenger will have one year to make a compensation claim with the airline that operated the disrupted flight. The airline would have 30 days to respond by issuing a payment or indicating why it believes compensation is not owed. Airlines will have to offer passengers this compensation in monetary form. They could also offer passengers alternative forms of compensation (e.g., vouchers or rebates), but passengers will always have the right to select what they prefer. As well, alternative forms of compensation offered will have to be of higher value than the monetary compensation that is required, and can never expire.
Also, airlines will have to provide for passengers who are delayed in their departure with issues that are within the control of the airline, or within their control and required for safety purposes. They will have to provide:
- food and drink in reasonable quantities.
- electronic means of communication (e.g., free wifi).
Finally, once a delay is expected to extend overnight, airlines will have to offer hotel or other comparable accommodation free of charge, as well as free transportation to the accommodation. As well, for all types of flight delays or cancellations, the airline operating the flight will have to ensure passengers complete their itinerary (that is, reach their final destination). Once a delay reaches 3 hours, an airline will also need to rebook the passenger on their next available flight. If there is no available flight within 48 hours they will have to use the services of a competing airline. In all cases the new flight must be reasonable.
There are also new protections when it comes to the seating of children. Airlines will have to, at no extra cost and at the earliest opportunity, help seat children under the age of 14 near to their parent, guardian or tutor. Children under 5 will be seated adjacent to their parent, guardian or tutor. Ages 5 to 11 will be in the same row and separated by no more than one seat. Children 12 or 13 may be no more than 1 row away.
Airlines will be required to follow the obligations set out in the regulations as soon as they come into force and could be subject to administrative monetary penalties of up to $25,000 per incident for non-compliance. In the event of an air travel-related dispute that cannot be resolved directly by a passenger and an airline, the passenger can make a complaint to the CTA. For more information of these new regulations coming into effect on Sunday, December 15th, 2019 you can visit the Canadian Transportation Agency website.