Nfld. & Labrador

New airline passenger protection rules 'a good start,' says N.L. advocate

Former C.B.S. mayor Woodrow French has been lobbying for an airline passenger bill of rights for more than a decade.

New rules include financial compensation for passengers bumped from flights because of overbooking

Woodrow French says the new rules won't fully protect Canadians from travel headaches, but they're a good start. (Paula Gale/CBC)

New federal rules to protect air passengers' rights are a step in the right direction, says a Conception Bay South advocate.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced last week that new regulations will be launched in two phases, this year, on July 15 and Dec. 15, applying to all flights to, from and within Canada.

"It's a good start," said Woodrow French, who has been calling for the legislation for more than a decade.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau has introduced legislation to create a new airline passenger bill of rights, to be phased in by the end of 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

"The onus is on the Canadian Transportation Agency to ensure the airlines are playing by the rules, and that passengers are given a level of care they need and require and deserve when they're flying on airlines." 

The first phase of the new regulations will include financial compensation for passengers who are prevented from boarding an aircraft because of overbooking. The amount of compensation will depend on the length of time passengers are delayed from reaching their final destination.

The onus is on the Canadian Transportation Agency to ensure the airlines are playing by the rules.- Woodrow French

"The government … basically recognizes that it's a contract between you and the airline, that the airline must get you to your final destination as quickly as they possibly can," French said. 

The new rules also state that an airline is classified as a large airline when it has carried more than 2 million passengers over a two-year period. French says that classification could cause some trouble when flying on smaller planes, especially in parts of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Airline passengers were left scrambling to rebook flights earlier this year, after the federal government's decision to ground all Boeing 737 Max 8s and 9s in Canada. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press)

"Let's say you're coming back from coastal Labrador and something happens and you're delayed," said French. "The smaller airline [only] has to give you $125. I've been to Goose Bay many times, and you can't get a hotel in Goose Bay for $125 if you need one, and there's nothing in there then for food and transport to your hotel.

"The traveller is going to have to become more familiar with the levels of compensation that airlines have to give you. While some of the numbers seem very high, it depends on where you are when the situation occurs to you."

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