The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) said on Wednesday that the new rules, which come into effect on September 8, will require airlines to either refund passengers or, at the traveler’s option, rebook them if a flight is cancelled or is significantly delayed.
Previously, the Air Passenger Protection Ordinance only required compensation for flight disruptions for which the airlines were responsible, which ruled out situations ranging from severe weather to unforeseen mechanical problems.
These rules will fill the gap in Canada’s passenger protection system highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure passengers are protected even in the event of cancellations and prolonged delays due to circumstances beyond the airline’s control when the airline cannot ensure that they will complete the planned itinerary within a reasonable timesaid the agency’s president, France Pégeot, in a press release.
Thousands of Canadians are grappling with a spate of lengthy flight delays and cancellations these days as airlines, security and customs officials struggle to manage a staff shortage amid the recent spate of travel, a problem that’s expected to continue for the next two months. However, the new rules will not protect summer travelers as they will not come into effect until the end of summer.
The regulations require airlines to offer a rebooking or refund within 30 days if they are unable to make a rebooking within 48 hours of a flight cancellation
Any unused portion of the ticket will be refunded, including
any additional service purchased but not usedhe saidOTC . And the type of refund must be the same as the original payment. This means a credit card purchase cannot be refunded in cash or with a travel voucher, as most Canadian airlines have done for nearly a year since March 2020, when the pandemic forced the cancellation of hundreds of thousands of flights.
Airlines demand comparison
Despite the tightening, the new rules do not go far enough for some. Gabor Lukacs, Chair of Travelers Rights Group, called the new framework a
Requiring a refund or rebooking only when the airline cannot guarantee another seat on a plane departing within two days of the original departure time does not meet the needs of travelers, Lukacs said.
” Whether you’re traveling for a weekend, vacation, or business trip, 48 hours later, traveling defeats the purpose of your trip. »
Canada is the only western country where airlines can withhold passengers’ money for canceled flights. The United States, the European Union, Israel and even Turkey have clear rules that if a flight is canceled for any reason, the passenger must be reimbursed even if the airline offers an alternative a few hours later.
The airlines, for their part, argue that the Air Passenger Protection Ordinance that came into force in 2019 already goes too far.
Canadian airlines in April asked a federal appeals court panel to overturn rules that bolster compensation for passengers whose flights were delayed and whose luggage was damaged.
Air Canada and Porter Airlines, along with 16 other callers, including the International Air Transport Association – IATA has about 290 member airlines – argued that the Passenger Bill of Rights violates global standards and should be scrapped for international flights.
The lawsuit, initiated in 2019, argues that the system exceeds the powers of the Canadian Transportation Agency. It would also violate the Montreal Convention, a multilateral agreement, by mandating stricter compensation requirements for flight cancellations or lost luggage.
Ottawa denies this
Ottawa maintains that there is no contradiction between air passenger protection regulations and the Montreal Convention.
Under federal rules introduced three years ago, passengers must be compensated up to $2,400 if they were denied boarding because a trip was overbooked and up to $2,100 for lost or damaged luggage. Delays and other payments for canceled flights warrant up to $1,000 in compensation.
The issue came to the fore after an incident in 2017 in which two Air Transat planes bound for Montreal were diverted to Ottawa due to inclement weather conditions and were held on the tarmac for about six hours, prompting some passengers to call 911 for emergency assistance called rescue.
The issue took on new meaning for thousands of Canadians starting in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic, travel restrictions and border closures led to mass flight cancellations and airline standstills.