(Air Canada)

Canadian travellers will soon be entitled to up to $1,000 compensation as a result of major flight delays after the second phase of Canadian Transportation Agency’s (CTA) new rules come into effect this weekend.

Starting December 15th, 2019, airlines will have to:

  • Provide compensation of up to $1,000 for flight delays and cancellations within an airline’s control that are not safety-related;
  • Rebook or refund passengers when flights are delayed, including, in some cases, using a competing airline to get passengers to their destination;
  • Provide food, drink and accommodation when passengers’ flights are delayed; and
  • Facilitate the seating of children under 14 years in close proximity to an accompanying adult, at no extra charge.

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.

(CTA)

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)

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.

Following the first phase

These regulations come into effect on December 15th, after the first set of new CTA laws became operational on July 15th, 2019.

The first phase introduced rules pertaining to denied boarding, baggage laws, and communication of passengers’ rights in the event of flight delays and cancellations.

Denied boarding

As of July 2019, new rules apply 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 adds this rule to domestic flights as well, with the addendum that airlines also be charged for any baggage fees incurred by the passenger.

The details of these regulations reflect input from the public consumer rights groups, and the airline industry during consultations between May and August 2018.

This was followed by a 60-day comment period once a draft of the new regulations was published in December 2018.

“Thousands of Canadians participated in the consultations that helped shape these new rules,” says Scott Streiner, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency, in a statement.

“We’re grateful for their input, and confident that these groundbreaking regulations will help ensure passengers are treated fairly if their air travel doesn’t go smoothly.”