New air passenger protection regulations now in effect

Jeannie Matthews
July 17, 2019

"We have created a world-leading approach to air passenger rights that is clear, consistent, transparent and fair", said Transport Minister Marc Garneau as he unveiled the new regulations.

For the first time, Canadians will have standardized, publicly accessible air passenger rights with the first phase of the regime taking effect today. For those who are involuntarily bumped, the airlines must provide up to $2,400 in compensation, and book the passenger on another flight at no cost to them. Delays of up to six hours will cost $900, when the compensation doubles to $1,800; it's $2,400 if the delay is longer than nine hours.

Changes also mean airlines will have to compensate passengers if their flight is severely delayed, if their luggage is lost, or if flights are overbooked as well - again, as long as the situation is within the company's control.

After looking at data analysis of departure delays in United Kingdom airports, the PA news agency has rounded up the worst offenders, calling out Spanish airline Vueling as the most egregious with delays averaging half an hour. After the extra time, if the plane is still on the ground, everyone has to get off unless there's a safety or security reason preventing it.

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New rules regarding reimbursing airline passengers come into effect today and this is good news for Canadians. "Starting today, Canadians are covered by these new regulations that apply to all air carriers flying to, from, and within Canada". Advocacy group Air Passenger Rights said the law doesn't go far enough.

Thomas Cook came in a close second, with delays of 24 minutes, followed by Wizz Air with 23 minute delays, but they neglected to offer any excuses, so we assume they're just plain tardy.

A new compensation structure takes effect for any passenger whose flight is delayed or cancelled.

If the airline does not respond to a passenger's claim accordingly, travellers are encouraged to visit the Canadian Transportation Agency at www.airpassengerprotection.ca for more information or to file a complaint. The compensation levels for smaller airlines are $125, $250 and $500. If a passenger chooses non-cash compensation, the value will have to be higher than the cash offer, and can never expire. Passengers whose luggage is lost or damaged will be eligible for up to $2,100, as well as a refund of their baggage fees. More requirements are set to be implemented in December of this year.

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