Travelling across Canada sucks.
It’s expensive, time-consuming, and, to make matters worse, you’re pretty much at the whim of a corporation that can ruin your plans at a moment's notice.
So, with your misery in mind, the Canadian government is trying to move forward with a passenger bill of rights. Canada’s transport minister, Marc Garneau, announced the news on Monday morning at a press conference, saying that the regulations establish “clear and consistent standards of commitment.”
“Buying an airline ticket can be a big expense for a Canadian family and we expect the airline to honour their end of the deal,” Garneau said. “An airline deal is a contract of service.”
“We all know someone who has had negative flight experience, or we have seen stories in the news, except in circumstances outside of their control. We’re going to make sure that airlines treat their passengers with the respect they deserve and live up to their commitments.”
Some of the changes include; being compensated when you’re bumped off a flight because an airline overbooked it, parents not having to pay more to sit next to their kids, and proper and timely compensation when an airline loses your luggage. The minister also said that the airline would have to provide assistance (like hotel and food) and, possibly, new flights to those being forced to wait for absurdly long periods of times. Garneau said that the companies would have to pay their customers within 48 hours in the case of overbooking—and if a passenger feels their rights are infringed upon they have 120 days to file a complaint. If the airlines don’t comply with the regulations they will have to pay fines, said Garneau.
The proposed regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette on the 22nd, where it will stay for 60 days to allow Canadians to comment on it.
“Our government is pleased with the progress made in strengthening air passenger rights for Canadians, and that Canadians have had—and continue to have—a chance to shape these rules,” said Garneau in a press release. “Once finalized, these regulations will create a more predictable and balanced approach that will benefit both.”
A passenger bill of rights isn’t a new idea. The European Union passenger bill of rights essentially ensures financial compensation for when a flight is overbooked, assistance (think food or lodging) when a long delay happens due to overbooking, and further compensation if a passenger is bumped down a class of flight that they paid for (ie. from business class to economy).
Earlier in the year, the Canadian parliament passed Bill C-49 which paved the way for these regulations and set the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) off on figuring out how it all will work. The CTA examined existing passenger bill of rights, like the EU’s, and how airlines self-regulate. While a lot of the forthcoming rules were already standard operating procedures for many airlines, we all know how hard most companies will fight to retain some cash at their customer's expense.
Sadly, it seems like the bill of rights won’t be able to protect those of you travelling over the holidays because you know someone’s Christmas is going to be ruined by an airline.
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