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Proposed Air Passenger Rules Set for Take Off

Most important rights will be outlined by the Canadian Transportation Agency

OTTAWA, May 16, 2017 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today welcomed legislation announced today by the federal Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, to strengthen Canada’s air passenger rights. The proposed legislative framework should provide a single standardized set of air passenger rules to Canadians. The proposed rules ensure passengers are entitled to certain rights in situations where a flying experience does not go as expected.

“The proposed rules should provide much needed consumer rights on air travel issues,” noted John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. “If passed, these changes will ensure airlines universally apply the same level of professionalism whether passengers experience difficulties on the ground or in the air.”

Transport Canada indicated the new initiative would establish clear standards of treatment for air travelers in common situations as well as financial compensation under certain circumstances. Examples include:

  • Denied boarding (including in case of overbooking), delays and cancellations;
  • Lost or damaged baggage;
  • Tarmac delays over a certain period of time;
  • Seating children near a parent or guardian at no extra charge; and
  • Ensuring carriers develop clear standards for transporting musical instruments.

“PIAC is cautiously hopeful that the Canadian Transportation Agency will be able to respond to the expected volume of complaints that will be generated by the new consumer rights.  However, if the CTA is given this work without a major re-organization of the agency and greater resources, there could be turbulence,” Lawford noted.

“At the moment, the bar of expectation for consumers dealing with airlines rests firmly on the ground,” notes Jonathan Bishop, PIAC’s Research Analyst. “This element of Bill C-49 is a golden opportunity for the Canadian Transportation Agency to address the needs of air passengers in an effective manner, added Bishop. “Handled correctly, Canadians could benefit from a world-leading air passenger complaint regime.” concluded Bishop.

In 2015, PIAC was asked by the Transportation Act Review Secretariat to provide an analysis of air carrier rules from the consumer perspective. PIAC released its report entitled, Consumer Protection for Airline Passengers, in August of 2015. In the report, PIAC looked at consumer protections from around the world and recommended two elements: An Airline Code and an ombudsman for airline complaints. PIAC believes that these two methods together would ensure consumers knew their rights and, if an issue were to fall outside of listed rights, an ombudsman could deal with those complaints.

For more information please contact:

John Lawford
Executive Director & General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
T: (613) 562-4002 ×25
C: (613) 447-8125
lawford@piac.ca

Jonathan Bishop
Research and Parliamentary Analyst
Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
T: (613) 562-4002 ×23
jbishop@piac.ca

 

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