Few people out there can say that they’ve never had an issue with an airline (if you’re one of those two people in Canada, congratulations, you win…). If you’re like the rest of us, and you’ve had your difficulties with air travel, things are about to get a little better. The Canadian government announced Monday some details in their new Passenger Rights Bill that will ensure airlines fairly compensate passengers for delays and other inconveniences.
— Marc Garneau (@MarcGarneau) December 17, 2018
The new rules will be posted in full in the Canada Gazette on Saturday and will be open for comment, from both Canadian citizens and airlines, for 60 days. After the comment period ends on February 20, appropriate changes will be made, then approved by the Cabinet and are projected to take affect summer 2019.
Here’s what we know about the regulations ahead of the bill’s publication:
- Passengers must be offered cash compensation immediately (or within 48 hours) for delays that are deemed to be the airline’s fault (ex. mechanical delays, overbooking) but not delays out of the airline’s control (ex. weather) which will be determined based on length of delay.
- Airlines cannot charge parents to be seated next to their children.
- Regular communication about the reasons behind a delay, time estimates, etc. are a “critical part” of the new rules.
- Three hours is the maximum length of time an airline can keep passengers delayed on the tarmac before allowing them to deplane. The government is also looking for input from airlines on the “standards of treatment” they will provide on board a delayed plane (ex. ventilation, climate control, bathroom break allowances).
- Seated passengers cannot be removed or bumped from a flight for any purpose unless there is a safety concern.
- If there is more than a nine-hour delay for a flight, an airline must offer passengers alternative flights on their competitor airlines.
- Airlines will be fined for not meeting standards and passengers have 120 days after their trip to report a violation of their rights.
- All airlines flying to, from or across Canada must adhere to these new standards.
According to Transport Minister Marc Garneau, the difference between the new Canadian bill of rights and those already in place in the United States and European Union is that it requires proactive action from airlines (whereas in other cases you would need to appeal to a governing body to receive compensation) and it specifically prohibits seated passengers from being removed from the plane against their will unless there is a safety issue. The latter has been a hot topic in recent years with videos surfacing of people being violently removed from flights because of overbooking.
While rules on compensation will be applied to all airlines, it is possible that in the final draft of the bill, the compensations may differ depending on airline size and offer breaks to smaller airlines with fewer resources.