Air-passenger protection?

Earlier this week, the federal government announced the most recent update on the proposed air passenger protection regulations. 

Although this current proposal may undergo further consultation and is subject to change, it appears close to being finalized for adoption.

So what is being proposed? 

There are a number of measures on a variety of different topics that I will highlight here. 

Please note the length of my report does not allow for a full summary.

Delay and Cancellations: 

  • Depending on whether the reason for a delay or cancellation is within airline control, and is not related to safety, passengers may be eligible for financial compensation. The amount of compensation varies due to the length of the delay and also if the delay occurs on a “large” or “small“ airline. A delay between three to six hours can result in $125 on small airline per traveller or $400 on a large airline.

Denied boarding: 

  • If a passenger is denied boarding for a reason that is within control of the airline and not safety related, for example from overbooking, a passenger can receive compensation of $900 for up to 6 hours of delay, $1,800 for six to nine hours of delay and $2,400 for a delay over nine hours.

Tarmac delays:  

  • Although there is no proposed compensation for a tarmac delay a three-hour maximum time limit is proposed unless takeoff is believed to be imminent.

Seating of Children: 

  • Depending upon the age of the child, airlines will not be able to charge for specific seating and must seat a child within certain defined proximities of the parent or guardian travelling with the child.

Loss of luggage:

  • Although it is seldom referenced, currently there are already legal obligations to compensate passengers for lost luggage that exist under the Montreal Convention agreement. 

As our current laws stand, up to $2,100 is available as compensation on international flights. It is proposed that this same level of protection will now apply to domestic flights within Canada.

This final point is what critics of the Passenger Bill of rights frequently point out. 

For decades, Canada has had many aviation related laws that benefit passengers. These laws have largely been ignored or not followed properly by airlines. 

Critics also reference a lack of enforcement for these violations by the Canadian Transportation Agency. 

Recently, CBC has broadcasted stories on air travellers who have been mistreated by airlines that share this criticism.

From my perspective, it is understandable that some would have concerns that the Bill of Rights does not go far enough or that it undermines current passenger rights that have largely been ignored and not enforced. 

There are also concerns that passengers travelling on smaller airlines are getting short changed with less compensation available if an infraction occurs. 

However this new proposal does include penalties to airlines of up to $25,000 per incident for non-compliance. 

There is clearly a fair bit of discretion that will be required to determine infractions and setting actual penalty amounts but the intent for compliance, in my view, is clear. 

The bigger question is will more resources be made available to actually investigate and enforce these incidents or will passengers be left on their own to settle disputes at the discretion of the airlines?

My question this week:

  • Do you believe the proposed Passenger Bill of Rights regulations will create significant changes in air travel or will it largely be ignored? 

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.


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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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