Many air travelers have experienced frustration resulting from delays, cancelled flights or denial of boarding. In the past few months we have seen several stories of airlines forcing passenger to give up their seats and in one scenario forcibly removing a passenger from the plane. In response to this the Government of Canada is working to amend the Canada Transport Act to lay the groundwork for a Passenger Bill of Rights. These changes will authorize the government to make regulations that will require airlines to meet certain standards related to passenger comfort and convenience.
This Bill of Rights will set a minimum standard for how airlines can treat passengers who experience delays or cancellations, will clarify the obligations that airlines have to passengers who use their services, and will provide a mechanism for passengers to file complaints against airlines that they think have breached their rights.
The exact details of the Passenger Bill of Rights will be established through regulations developed by the Minister of Transport over the coming months. At a minimum, the Passenger Bill of Rights will:
- Require airlines to provide clear and accurate information to passengers on the options available to them when their flight has been delayed or cancelled
- Outline the standard of treatment and compensation that a carrier owes to a passenger when a delay, cancellation or denial of boarding is within the control of the carrier
- Outline the standard of treatment and compensation that a carrier owes to a passenger when a delay, cancellation or denial of boarding is within the control of the carrier, but is required for safety purposes
- Outline the carrier's obligation to ensure that passengers complete their itinerary when the delay, cancellation or denial of boarding is caused by situation outside of the carriers control, like weather or security events.
- Specify the minimum compensation to be paid to customers whose bags have been lost or damaged
- Require airlines to assign seats for children under the age of 14 in proximity to parents or guardians at no additional cost
- Require the carrier to establish clear terms and conditions for transporting musical instruments
The Passenger Bill of Rights will apply to flights to, from and within Canada and will apply to passengers on connecting flights that stop in Canada. The final Passenger Bill of Rights will also contain any other regulations that the Minister of Transport deems to be necessary.
Minister of Transport Marc Garneau has stated publicly that the Passenger Bill of Rights will prevent airlines from bumping passengers from flights against their will, and that he wants to have the legislation in place in 2018. We will be watching closely as the Bill makes its way through the legislative process.
For more information about the bill click here.