New Canadian Air Passengers Regulations
Latest Airline Regulations for Passenger Safety
The Federal government of Canada has recently announced new regulations that aim to provide airline passengers clearer and more consistent rights. These new rules are designed to protect not only airline passengers but also people who fly them. These regulations specify the airline’s obligations to passengers and are part of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPRs) under the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).
These APPRs will be applied to all flights within, to, and from Canada. This also includes all connecting flights. This will also be enforced to all airline operators, whether a Canadian or foreign airline. They also apply to both big and small airlines. Big airlines are defined as those who have transported at least two million passengers in the past two years. All other airlines that don’t meet the two million passenger mark are considered small.
According to CTA’s Chair and CEO Scott Streiner, these regulations establish fair and balanced obligations “that will help ensure fair treatment” to all air travelers to and from Canada. Some of these rules, particularly pertaining to denied boarding, communication, baggage, transportation, and tarmac delay, have been imposed starting July 15, 2019. The rest of the regulations, which cover obligations towards passengers when seating children and during flight disruptions, won’t come into effect until December 15, 2019.
The rules impose minimum airline requirements in air travel which cover various areas, which will be discussed below.
Regulations that are imposed effective July 15, 2019
One rule that has been imposed starting July 15, 2019, is all about proper communication guidelines. Passengers must be informed of their rights in a clear, accessible, and timely manner. The language that should be used to explain the guidelines must be clear and concise. They should be able to clearly explain what happens if they are denied boarding, the policy for lost or damaged luggage, and flight delays or cancellations.
Airlines are required to inform customers of any issues in up to three ways: a visible announcement, an audible announcement, and through any communication method that the passenger has requested. When it comes to disabled passengers, airlines must be able to use adaptive communication methods to inform them. For instance, they should be able to provide rules in large print, in digital format, or Braille. Airlines must also provide this information electronically and on all travel documents.
Delayed or Cancelled Flights
Airlines must also inform their customers of any flight disruptions – and they must be informed prior to boarding. These flight disruptions could include flight or tarmac delays, boarding denials due to overbooking, and flight cancellations. If there are delays, airlines are required to provide status updates every half hour until there is confirmed departure time.
Air passengers get up to $1,000 compensation for delays or cancellations, up to $2,100 for lost luggage, and up to $2,400 for being bumped from a flight.
Denied Boarding Regulations
When there is an overbooked flight, passengers may be denied boarding. Denied boarding occurs even if a passenger has a valid ticket for a flight. Airlines should request volunteers to give up their seat before kicking anyone off the flight. If a passenger does volunteer, the airline has to put the agreement in writing prior to the flight departure. This agreement should include the benefits that the bumped-off passenger will receive.
A passenger that is denied boarding for reasons that are within the airline’s control such as commercial overbooking or maintenance schedule is entitled to compensation. The compensation is based on the length of delay and the time it gets to arrive at the final destination. If the length of the delay is from 0 to 6 hours, the passenger will receive $900. When it is from six to nine hours, it could reach up to $1,800. If there is a delay of more than nine hours, the passenger is entitled to $2,400 worth of compensation.
The airline is required by regulations to issue the compensation at the time of notification. If it is unable to issue payment during the time of notification, the airline is given 48 hours to give compensation. The airline must also rebook passengers who are denied boarding and it should be free of charge.
Tarmac Delays Regulations
Passengers who are stuck due to tarmac delays are also given priority. Any passenger inside a plane that has left the gate should have access to food, drink, ventilation, heating, cooling, and lavatories. The passengers should also have the ability to communicate with people outside the plane free of charge, it that’s possible. These tarmac delay regulations are applied whether delays occur in Canada or abroad.
When there is a tarmac delay of three hours at a Canadian airport, all passengers will have to disembark and return to the gate.
Lost, Damaged Luggage Regulations
Existing regulations under the Montreal Convention require airlines to compensate passengers up to $2,100 if they lose a passenger’s bag or damages a passenger’s luggage. This applies to international passengers. However, the new regulations also mandate domestic flights to apply the same amount of compensation for lost or damaged luggage.
Passengers are required to file a claim for expenses with the airline. Damaged baggage claims must be submitted within seven days after the passenger gets the luggage. Lost baggage claims must be submitted within 21 days after the expected arrival date.
Airline Obligations in Flight Disruptions
Airlines have the following obligations to passengers during flight disruptions:
- Within the airline’s control – commercial overbooking, scheduled aircraft maintenance, mechanical malfunction identified during scheduled maintenance.
- Completion of the itinerary
- Standards of treatment
- Within the airline’s control but needed for safety – these are unforeseen events that are legally required to reduce safety risk to passengers. Included in this category are safety decisions made by the pilot.
- Completion of the passenger itinerary
- Standards of treatment
- Outside the airline’s control – this includes meteorological conditions, natural disasters, war or political instability, illegal acts, sabotage, instructions that come from air traffic control, a medical emergency, airport operation issues, collision with wildlife, a manufacturing defect that reduces passenger safety, an order from a law enforcement agency or competent authority.
- Completion of the passenger itinerary
Regulations that will take effect starting December 15, 2019
Compensation for Cancelled or Delayed Flights
The compensation rules for flight delays and cancellations will be enforced starting December 15, 2019. Passengers will be entitled to compensation based on the length of the delay. For large airlines, passengers with delays of 3 to 6 hours will be compensated $400. With delays of 6 to 9 hours, passengers will be compensated $700 and for 9 hours or more, passengers will be paid $1,000. For small airlines, passengers with delays of 3 to 6 hours must be given $125, while delays of 6 to 9 hours will amount to $250. Passengers of small airlines will be given $500 for delays of 9 hours or more.
Passengers are given one year to make a compensation claim for a disrupted flight. On the other hand, the airline has 30 days to respond by issuing a payment or giving their official reasons why they do not owe the passenger anything.
Seats for Children
On December 15, 2019, airlines will be required to do their best to seat children 14 years of age or younger to sit beside their parent or guardian at no extra cost. Children who are under five years of age should sit next to a parent. 5 to 11 years old should have seats that are located in a row where their parent sits. The distance should not exceed a single seat. Children between 12-13 years of age should be seated no further than a row away from their parents.
Flight Delays – Standards of Treatment
If there is a departure delay of 2 hours, the airline operator will be required to provide passengers with the following:
- Free Wi-Fi or electronic means of communication
- Reasonable quantities of food and drink
If the delay is expected to run overnight, the airline is required to offer free hotel accommodation and free transportation to and from the accommodation.
Rebooking and Refund Policies
If the delay extends to more than three hours, the airline is required to rebook the passengers on the next available flight. The new flight must be the same class of service as the original one. If the airline’s next available flight is expected to depart 9 or more hours after the original departure time of the passenger, large airlines should rebook the passenger on another airline.
If rebooking is no longer necessary or does not meet a passenger’s needs, the passenger will be entitled to a full refund as well as a compensation of $400 for large airlines and $125 for small airlines.
If for some reason, a big airline is not able to rebook a passenger on any flight that leaves the same airport within 48 hours, they need to rebook the passenger on a flight that will leave in another airport, if there is one nearby.
Lastly, if an airline is found to be non-compliant of these new rules and regulations, they can rack up penalty charges of up to $25,000.