Majority of Canadians unaware of new air travellers right
More than half (56%) of Canadians still don’t know they have new rights as air travellers, according to research released December 12, 2019, by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).
“It is clear that the government and the airlines need to do more to ensure Canadians know their rights,” said Jeff Walker, chief strategy officer, CAA National, “As we head into the holiday travel season, it’s even more important travellers are aware of the new system and how to make claims.”
Nearly six months ago, the government of Canada announced the first phase of an air passenger rights regime that includes compensation as high as $2,400 for being bumped, more money for lost or damaged baggage, and a requirement that airlines provide travellers with clear communications on their rights and how to claim them.
A second, bigger bundle of rights will be introduced December 15. New protections include cash compensation for long delays and cancellations. In addition, airlines will be required to rebook or refund travel that is delayed more than three hours or cancelled. And airlines will now be required to facilitate seating of children under the age of 14 with their parent/guardian at no cost.
“CAA encourages passengers to learn their new rights and file a claim when they feel those protections have been breached,” said Walker, “CAA will continue to represent the interest of travellers by tracking the regime’s effectiveness and hold the Canadian Transportation Agency accountable.”
If an airline does not respond to a passenger’s claim accordingly, travellers are encouraged to visit the Canadian Transportation Agency at airpassengerprotection.ca for more information or to file a complaint.
CAA operates one of the country’s largest leisure travel agencies and has been advocating for travellers for decades.
Source: CAA news release, December 12, 2019
Changes made to the air passenger rights in December 2019:
- Cash compensation for delays and cancellations of more than three hours within the carrier’s control.
- Airlines will be required to rebook and/or refund travel that is delayed or cancelled, depending on circumstances.
- Airlines will also have to facilitate seating of children under the age of 14 with their parent/guardian, at no cost.
Changes made to the air passenger rights in July 2019:
- Airlines must inform travellers in simple, clear and concise language what their rights are on all itinerary-related documents and messaging.
- Overbooking: Compensation up to $2,400 for being involuntarily bumped from a flight and no cost re-booking.
- Increases to an airline’s maximum liability on domestic flights for lost or damaged baggage to match current international flight limits and the requirement to refund any baggage fees paid.
- Tarmac delays: Airlines will be required to provide standard of treatment (access to toilets, heating/cooling, refreshments, etc.) beginning at the time of the delay. Airlines will also have to disembark passengers no later than 3 hours after the delay starts.
CAA will continue to advocate on behalf of travellers for better and more clear rights. Here is what is still missing, in our view:
- The proposed rules will, in most cases, require travellers to file a claim with an airline in order to get compensation, even when it is obvious a plane was many hours late.
- In addition, there will be no compensation if a problem is caused by “mechanical issues” – the definition of which is not clear.
- Air travel performance data which allows Canadians to judge whether the new regime is working won’t be available for a period after implementation of the regulations.