Airline passengers could soon get up to $1,000 for flight delays in Canada
The first draft of Canada's long-awaited "air passenger bill of rights" has finally been revealed, hinting at a future in which large airlines will have to compensate passengers handsomely for lost bags, delayed flights and instances of overbooking.
"An airline ticket is a contract for service and it imposes obligations on both the airline and the traveller," said Federal Minister of Transport Marc Garneau during a press conference announcing the proposed regulations in Ottawa on Monday.
"Except in circumstances which are beyond their control, we are going to make sure that airlines treat their passengers with the respect they deserve and live up to their commitments," he continued, promising "clear and consistent standards" for every airline flying into, out of, or even across Canada.
Should the bill pass as is, airlines would be forced to pay out travellers who are bumped from overbooked flights based on how many hours late those travellers will be to their final destinations.
A late arrival of up to six hours due to overbooking would entitle a flyer to $900, while those who arrive more than nine hours late would get $2,400— within 48 hours, and in cash. That is, not flight credits.
Large airlines would have to pay passengers whose flights are simply delayed (by at least three hours) between $400 and $1,000, and those with lost or damaged pieces of luggage would be entitled to as much as $2,100.
Of course, there's more to passenger care than paying for mistakes. Garneau stressed in his speech that "a key part of this is to make sure passengers are informed" when cancellations or delays occur.
No more sitting on the tarmac wondering what the heck is up, essentially.
"Communication with passengers is taken seriously and into account," noted Garneau, who said that the government would be watching airlines closely to ensure "communication occurs so that passengers know what's going on."
Further to that, airlines won't be able to hold passengers in a plane that isn't taking off for more than three hours.
The rule is based on similar regulations in the U.S. and comes alongside new "standards of treatment" for passengers on the tarmac, including access to food, drinks, washrooms, electronic communications, comfortable temperatures and a ventilated cabin.
Garneau said that the regulations will be published in full on the federal government's website this Saturday, December 22, at which point Canadians will have 60 days to weigh in with their comments and concerns.
If all goes well, these new airline rules could be in place by as early as next summer.
Until then, individuals airline will continue to compensate passengers as they see fit for troubles deemed under their control.
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