Back in the 1980's and 1990's, I did a lot of business travelling by air. Today, I am retired but still travel extensively by air to get to my touring destinations. Throughout these occasions, I encountered many unexpected situations at the airports resulting in lost of my assigned seat, delay of flights, and cancellations. Compensations for these inconveniences are minimal and in many cases non-existent.
My experiences above are about to change come July 15 this year. The Federal government recently announces new rules on airline passenger protection and compensation that will come into effect on that day with further regulations to be enforced in December.
The regulations are applicable to all flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights. In general, flight disruptions — tarmac delays, flight cancellations, and denials of boarding — that are within an airline's control require compensation be paid, standards of treatment be upheld and the passenger's itinerary be completed.
As of July 15, 2019 a delay on the tarmac will require that all passengers have access to working toilets. In the past, complaints were logged where passengers were kept inside a plane awaiting departure for hours without working toilets. An airline will also have to ensure the aircraft is properly ventilated and kept either cool or warm depending on the time of year. Passengers will also have to be provided food and drink and the ability to communicate with people outside of the plane free of charge (internet?), if possible.
Planes that have been on the tarmac for three hours will be required to return to the gate so people can get off. The only exception is when a departure is likely within the first 45 minutes after the three-hour time. In that case, the plane can remain where it is.
Passengers who are prevented from boarding an aircraft because of overbooking will be compensated financially depending on the length of time they are delayed from reaching their final destination based on a scale dictated by the regulations. Overbooking delays of less than six hours will require a minimum $900 payment, delays between six and nine hours mean a minimum $1,800 payment and delays longer than nine hours will see passengers compensated a minimum of $2,400. These monetary compensations are far more generous than the rates given out at the present time.
For lost or damaged baggage, an airline will be liable for $2,100 for the lost bag and will also have to refund any baggage fees paid for the lost bag. This is a hefty amount to be paid by the airlines once it is implemented. So far, I have not seen any regulations on bags that are temporarily misplaced though. Airlines are also going to have to include terms and conditions for the transportation of musical instruments - whether they are taken as a carry on or are checked into the cargo hold.
The rules and compensation for cancelled flights and delays are effective come December 15, 2019. Airlines will have to provide compensation to passengers for delayed or cancelled flights depending on the size of the airline。
Delayed arrival at a final destination of between three to six hours will cost large airlines $400 and small airlines $125. Delays of between six to nine hour will cost large airlines $700 and small airlines $250. Delays greater than nine hours will cost large airlines $1,000 and smaller airlines half that amount. No only does the passenger has to get to their final destination, but that they do so in the same class of service.
If the delay is longer than nine hours and the passenger cannot be rebooked on the same airline, then they have to be booked on a competing airline. If the passenger decides the delay has rendered the trip useless they will get a refund and the required financial compensation. Airlines will also have to ensure that children under the age of five are seated next to their parent or guardian, children age five to 11 are in the same row and no more than one seat away from their parent or guardian and children aged 12 or 13 are no more than one row away.
Those airlines that failed to work with the new standards can be fined up to $25,000 per incident by the Canadian Transport Agency.
For the first time in a long time, the air-travellers will receive fair treatment and reasonable compensations from delinquent airlines. Let us hope these groundbreaking regulations that work in favour of the passengers will continue to benefit frequent flyers like myself.
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