Victoria International Airport (Moore Wilson Architects Inc.)

After months of consultation, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has drawn up a set of proposals that could make air travel a lot less stressful.

Canadian airline passengers are looking at compensation for issues like delayed flights and lost baggage, due to the CTA’s proposed air passenger protection regulations.

According to an announcement by federal Minister of Transport Marc Garneau, the Agency’s “proposed air passenger protection regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette Part I on December 22, 2018, for a final 60-day public comment period.”

The proposed regulations, which would apply to all flights to, from, and within Canada, encompass several categories of airline obligations to passengers, including delayed or cancelled flights, denied boarding, lost or damaged baggage, and the seating of children under age 14.

Delayed or cancelled flights

For situations within airline control (but not required for safety purposes), the company would have to compensate passengers for any delays or cancellations.

Passengers would have up to 120 days to claim compensation. The airline would then have 30 days to pay up, or explain why they believe compensation is not owed.

Minimum levels of compensation:

Departure delays of 3 hours or more would also entitle passengers to be rebooked onto the next available flight to their destination.

In the event that rebooking doesn’t meet the travellers’ needs, they would also be able to file a claim for a refund and additional compensation for inconvenience ($400 for large airlines and $125 for small).

Denied boarding

The proposal also introduces regulations for passengers who are denied boarding by airlines due to circumstances within their control that are not required for safety – like commercial overbooking or scheduled flight maintenance.

Travellers affected by these situations would be entitled to compensation based on the length of delay at arrival, and the airline would have to pay them when notifying them of the boarding denial.

Minimum levels of compensation:

Baggage

The pre-existing Montreal Convention, an international air transport treaty to which Canada is a party, mandates that all airlines are subject to reimburse passengers for baggage that is lost or damaged during international travel up to about $2,100.

The CTA proposes that this rule be applied to domestic flights as well, with the addendum that airlines also be charged for any baggage fees incurred by the passenger.

Seating children below age 14

Airlines would also have to ensure that children under age 14 be seated near their parent, guardian, or tutor, at no extra cost.

The proximity would depend on the age of the child, with kids under 5 being seated next to their adult guardian, kids aged 5-11 in the same row as their guardian, and those aged 12 or 13 seated no more than one row away from their guardian.

The proposal also requires airlines to have a policy in place that does not allow children under 5 to travel without a parent or accompanying guardian aged 16 years or older.

“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 Minister of Transport, Garneau, in a release.

“An airline ticket is a contract for service, and it imposes obligations on both the airline and on the traveller. Once finalized, these regulations will create a more predictable and balanced approach that will benefit both.”

Starting December 22nd, Canadians can voice their opinions on the proposed regulations by visiting Canada Gazette Part I

Final regulations are expected to come into effect starting summer 2019.

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