OTTAWA—The federal government is rolling out new rules to ensure compensation for travellers bumped off flights, hit by delays and cancellations or suffer lost bags.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau was scheduled to announce the proposed rules Monday morning at a news conference at Ottawa International Airport.
- Compensation of up to $2,400 if a passenger is denied boarding because an airline has over-booked the flight and is delayed reaching their destination.
- A requirement that airlines enable parents to sit close to their children at no extra charge.
However, there’s a catch. Airlines won’t be required to pay compensation for delays or cancellations caused by “safety related” issues. That language does not exist in the European Union passenger protection legislation.
Scott Streiner, chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency, said the airline pressed the agency to ensure that the compensation levels were not “punitive.”
The legislation will also set out a requirement that airlines communicate in a “simple, clear” way with passengers the reasons for delays and cancellations and their rights.
“Passengers will have the right to regular updates,” Streiner told a briefing Monday.
The move comes after months of work by the Canadian Transportation Agency. It hopes to have the rules in force by the summer after a final round of consultations.
Work on passenger protection rights were spurred along by an incident in 2017 when two Air Transat flights diverted to Ottawa because of bad weather. The jets were stuck on the tarmac for hours and passengers were not allowed off the aircraft.
The new rules will require airlines to have policies to govern how passengers are treated during extended tarmac delays. That will include access to washrooms, food and drink and proper ventilation. If a tarmac delay stretches three hours or more, the aircraft would be required to return to the terminal to allow travellers to disembark.
Streiner said that the agency looked to other jurisdictions, notably the European Union when it crafted the regulations.
The EU rules apply to airlines based in the EU or those operating from EU countries, such as an Air Canada flight departing London’s Heathrow airport.
It requires airlines to compensate passengers for flight delays and cancellations, overbooking and lost bags. For example, if a flight is delayed by more than three hours, travellers are entitled to compensation, up to around $900 each on trips more than 3,500 kilometres.
It also sets that airlines should provide passengers with assistance during a delay that includes refreshments, accommodation and access to telephone calls and emails.
Under the EU model, airlines do not have to provide compensation if they can show the problem was due to “extraordinary” circumstances.
Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier