The Liberals will soon publish a draft of their air passenger bill of rights. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Air passenger rights: Six things about what the Liberals are offering in draft rules

OTTAWA — The Liberals will publish the draft text of their long-promised air passenger bill of rights by Saturday, launching a 60-day public consultation for any final changes. Here are six things to know about the regulations.

1) For larger airlines, compensation for delays and cancellations is based on how many hours late you arrive at your destination — so long as the reasons for the delay were within the airline’s control and not related to safety issues. All the figures, once finalized, will increase with inflation.

For delays between three and six hours, compensation is $400. Between six and nine hours, $700. And over nine hours is $1,000.

Compensation rules are different for smaller or low-cost airlines, particularly for airlines that service the North. Passengers can receive $150 for delays of three to six hours. The payments go to $250 for delays between six and nine hours, and $500 for delays of nine-plus hours.

2) If you’re denied boarding, a similar sliding scale of payments apply. If you’re bumped from a flight and the ensuing delay hits six hours, you can receive $900. Delays between six and nine hours equal a $1,800 payment. And over nine hours is $2,400. But unlike delays or cancellations, an airline would have to pay up in cash, for instance, on the spot.

3) Bag lost or damaged? The Liberals want to require airlines to pay up to $2,100 in compensation — rules that are already enshrined in an international travel convention. The proposed regulations would also require airlines to refund any baggage fees.

4) The regulations would require airlines to provide food, water, air conditioning and use of bathrooms during tarmac delays, but not require a flight unload passengers until a delay hits three hours — or 90 minutes more than a Senate committee recommended. However, the three hour limit can get one 45 minute extension if the flight is likely to take off during that period.

5) Airlines will also be required to seat children near their parents, eliminating the need for parents to pay an additional seat-selection fee. The rules give the airlines some leeway based on age. Children under five must be seated right beside their parents. Children five to 11 must be in the same row, separated by no more than one seat. Children 12 and 13 years old cannot be separated by more than one row.

6) Violations of the rules could cost airlines up to $25,000 in fines. If, for example, airlines don’t communicate quickly and simply what is going on with your flight, or don’t rebook you onto a flight promptly, they will be penalized.

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