Updated air passenger rights protections in effect

New air passenger protections kick in todayMore

New air passenger protections kick in todayMore

Passengers whose luggage is lost or damaged will also be eligible for compensation up to $2,100 and refunds.

"As Canada's Minister of Transport, I am pleased to see the first phase of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations are now in effect".

Also beginning today, all communications, including tickets, from an airline must contain clear information on passenger rights and how to claim them.

The second wave of regulations will come into effect just before Christmas, which will put in place a new compensation structure for any passenger whose flight is delayed from departing or is cancelled. Passengers in most cases will be required to file a claim with their airline to receive compensation. Passengers will be able to deal directly with the airline to file a complaint. For those who are involuntarily bumped, the airlines must provide up to $2,400 in compensation, and book the passenger on another flight at no cost to them.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau spoke this morning about the air passenger bill of rights, which many airlines are still fighting.

Consumer advocates, however, say the rules do not go far enough, arguing that airlines' exemption from compensating customers in situations "outside of the airline's control" uses too broad a definition and amounts to a loophole. "Starting today, Canadians are covered by these new regulations that apply to all air carriers flying to, from, and within Canada".

Passenger Mary Alice Ernst, en route to Chicago from Montreal with her daughter Monday, said the traveller bill of rights was a breath of fresh air.

Garneau said terms are clearly defined, but reiterated that delays or cancellations following a pre-flight check are not considered something which warrants compensation.

To many observers, the key phrase in these beefed-up regulations is "within an airline's control". He says fines against airlines for breaking existing rules have not, in the past, been collected, and there is no function in the new bill to ensure those fines are enforced.

Musical instruments will be allowed on flights, either as checked or carry-on baggage, but airlines will have to create policies detailing size restrictions, cabin-storage options, and transportation fees.

Passengers will get to decide whether to take cash, vouchers or rebates.

Chief executive of Airlines UK, the trade body for UK registered airlines, has blamed "antiquated airspace" for these delays, adding, "We support government in its efforts to introduce much-needed modernisation so we can continue to safely and effectively accommodate the ever rising demand for air travel". Now they're not so quick to respond to those needs.

Children under age five will have to be seated next to a parent or guardian at no extra cost.

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