Flyers to get compensation for delays, mishaps

The federal government is rolling out new rules to better protect passengers when their flights go awry, including new requirements for compensation for getting bumped off flights, delays and cancellations and lost bags.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the measures he announced Monday will set “clear and consistent” standards of treatment.

“We are going to make sure airlines treat their passengers with the respect they deserve and live up to their commitments,” Garneau told a news conference at Ottawa International Airport.

But consumer advocates highlighted a potential catch around the compensation — airlines won’t be required to pay if the problem is deemed to be “safety related.”

“If a flight is delayed or cancelled due to the aircraft breaking down, no compensation. That is obscene,” said Gabor Lukacs, an advocate for air passenger rights.

He said that mechanical issues and weather problems account for the majority of flight disruptions, meaning that most passengers will never receive any compensation.

Lukacs said the proposed rules are “substantially inferior” to passenger protection rules in the European Union, where airlines can only avoid providing compensation under “extraordinary” circumstances.

Ian Jack, a spokesman for the Canadian Automobile Association, called it a “loophole.”

“We talked to the government about very clearly and carefully defining what a mechanical issue is” under the regulations, said Jack, adding that the Canadian Transportation Agency should have the ability to audit airline records to verify the reasons for delays.

Garneau insisted that airlines won’t use safety as a catch-all excuse to avoid paying out compensation — and if they do, he vowed that they would be penalized.

“The CTA and Transport Canada will be monitoring these situations,” Garneau said.

“Everything that they report can be checked.”

Under the draft regulations, which will apply to all flights to and from Canada, and those within Canada, airlines would be required to provide passengers with food, drink and free Wi-Fi after delays of two hours, and accommodation if the delay stretches overnight.

Compensation of up to $1,000 would be required for lengthy flight delays and cancellations.

Determining the exact level of compensation is complex and will vary, depending on the length of delay — measured at arrival, not departure — and the cause and whether it was in the airline’s control.

Passengers flying on large airlines will be entitled to more compensation — as much as $1,000 for delays of nine hours or more — compared to smaller airlines.

There is compensation of up to $2,400 if a passenger is denied boarding and is delayed reaching their destination because an airline has overbooked the flight.

Massimo Bergamini, president of the National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents the country’s biggest carriers, said the airlines will be carefully reviewing details of the proposed regulations when they are formally published this weekend.

But he said the government has framed air travel woes as an “airline-centric problem” without taking into account other issues that irritate travellers, noting complaints about lineups at security screening and immigration and customs checks.

Bruce Campion-Smith is a columnist with Torstar Syndication Services.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whatever snow may possibly fall in Red Deer on the weekend will melt when it hits the warm ground, says meteorologist Kyle Fougere with Environment and Climate Change Canada. (File photo by ADVOCATE staff)
Weather expected to get warmer next week in Red Deer

It’s going to be a cold weekend, according to Environment Canada. Saturday… Continue reading

Retired city manager Craig Curtis will argue for keeping the Molly Banister Drive right-of-way at Tuesday's public hearing. He warns of future gridlock if the extension is removed by city council. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Former Red Deer city manager warns killing the Molly Banister Drive extension is ‘a terrible mistake’

Craig Curtis will argue for keeping the road alignment at next week’s public hearing

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

A Red Deer County man was arrested for drug possession by Innisfail RCMP on April 19. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Property crime and drugs top Red Deer RCMP priorities in new plan

2020-2022 Policing Priorities Plan going to city council on Monday

RCMP estimate about 500 people gathered on the weekend near Garrington Bridge along the Red Deer River, in a July 28, 2020 story. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Second person charged for alleged assault at anti-racism rally in Red Deer

A second person is facing charges following an alleged assault during an… Continue reading

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

A voter places her absentee ballot in the ballot box, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty
American voters living in Canada increasingly being counted in presidential race

The largest number of Canadian-based American voters cast their ballots in New York and California

This photo provided by Air Force Reserve shows a sky view of Hurricane Epsilon taken by Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter team over the Atlantic Ocean taken Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.   Epsilon’s maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly as it prepares to sideswipe Bermuda on a path over the Atlantic Ocean.  The National Hurricane Center says it should come close enough Thursday, Oct. 22, evening to merit a tropical storm warning for the island.  (Air Force Reserve via AP)
Hurricane Epsilon expected to remain offshore but will push waves at Atlantic Canada

Epsilon is not expected to have any real impact on land

A composite image of three photographs shows BC NDP Leader John Horgan, left, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sept. 25, 2020; BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, centre, in Victoria on Sept. 24, 2020; and BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck, Chad Hipolito
British Columbia votes in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan called the snap election one year before the fixed voting date

Nunavut's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, on Tuesday June 30, 2020. The annual report from Nunavut's representative for children and youth says "complacency and a lack of accountability" in the territory's public service means basic information about young people needing services isn’t tracked. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Nunavut’s young people ‘should be expecting more’ from government services: advocate

‘The majority of information we requested is not tracked or was not provided by departments’

Don’t try to teach a turtle tricks

I got Smokey at Woolworths. Woolworths was an awesome department store downtown,… Continue reading

New voluntary measures, including the encouragement of more mask wearing, have been introduced in the Edmonton health zone. “Red Deer has been very fortunate to have relatively low case numbers . . . relative to the rest of the province and the country,” says Mayor Tara Veer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
POLL: Should Alberta have stricter rules to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Should Alberta have stricter rules to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?… Continue reading

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler throws against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning in Game 3 of the baseball World Series Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Buehler leads Dodgers over Rays 6-2 for 2-1 Series lead

Buehler leads Dodgers over Rays 6-2 for 2-1 Series lead

Most Read