An airplane prepares to land at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, September 30, 2004. Canadians will soon have their say on the future of airline passenger rights with the Canadian Transportation Agency planning broad public consultations on new regulations. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

CTA plans consultations on passenger rights

CALGARY — Canadians will soon have their say on the future of airline passenger rights with the Canadian Transportation Agency planning broad public consultations on new regulations.

The input-gathering will launch once a bill aimed at modernizing transit rules is passed in Parliament, and comes at a time of rising complaints about the state of air travel.

Scott Streiner, chair of the CTA, said in a speech in Calgary Wednesday that the agency has been getting about 500 air travel complaints a month between December and March, up from about 800 a year in recent years.

The uptick comes after it started last August to try and raise awareness about the CTA’s role in dealing with passenger issues, and made it easier for the public to send in their complaints.

He said the agency is planning for two to three months of public consultations that will include online discussions, written submissions and day-long open sessions.

“We are going to give Canadians an opportunity across the country to let us know what they think should be in those regulations,” said Streiner.

“The current legislative framework has sometimes been confusing for air travellers. We know that it’s produced frustration and we also feel that it hasn’t allowed for system-wide solutions to problems.”

He said the regulations will focus on creating more clarity about passenger rights and consistent requirements across airlines when it comes to compensation for passengers affected by issues such as cancelled flights, delays and lost luggage. The agency aims to have the new rules in place in 2018.

Streiner said airlines are already starting to make their compensation policies easier to find and read, while Transport Minister Marc Garneau has urged airlines to ensure children can be seated next to a parent at no extra charge and to stop bumping passengers before regulations are finalized.

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