Ottawa

Ottawa airplane passengers welcome new federal rules

Travellers at Ottawa's international airport are welcoming the changes, hoping they will make it easier to get compensation.

Regulation's 'grey zone' could still cause problems, CAA says

Passengers who are bumped from their flights or delayed because of problems within an airline's control will now receive compensation. (Thibault Camus/Associated Press)

Travellers at Ottawa's Macdonald–Cartier International Airport are welcoming federal changes that provide compensation for a number of events they often had to argue for.

The Air Passenger Protection Regulations outline what travellers are entitled to when they are bumped from flights, delayed on the tarmac for several hours or when their bags are lost.

Some of the regulations came into effect Monday, while others will come into effect in December.

James Albert said he hopes the bill has teeth and actually holds airlines accountable. (CBC)

James Albert, who was flying to Cuba on Monday, said he feels some airlines have given passengers the runaround in the past and hopes the new bill will prevent similar situations.

"You could be stuck, stranded, nothing to do, your flight's delayed forever, you're sitting on the tarmac, and no compensation. Now there is, hopefully," he said.

"Do I think it's going to work? I don't know. The proof is in the pudding."

Dan Cain is hopeful the new regulations will protect passengers.

"Airlines are pretty powerful, having someone to back you is not a bad idea. [If] they lose my luggage, who do I yell at? Who's going to make them pay?" he said while waiting for his flight to Victoria.

Travellers at Ottawa's Macdonald–Cartier International Airport are welcoming federal changes that provide compensation for various events such as delays or overbooked flights. 1:10

Gaps in regulations

Companies which deal with airlines and passengers on a regular basis are also weighing in.

"Do we think this is a perfect system? Absolutely not. We give it about a seven out of 10," said Ian Jack, managing director of government relations and communications, with the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).

"But there's no doubt, given that we had no such system before [Monday], that this is a clear advance for air passengers."

CAA's Ian Jack said airlines could say weather is a problem at its destination when it's clearly not. (CBC)

Previously, airlines had their own regulations around compensation, but those were often hidden, he said.

The advantage to the new rules is they apply to everyone and are public.

He said the biggest problem is airlines are given a grey zone where they won't owe compensation for lengthy delays that are outside their control, and what is deemed outside their control hasn't been clearly defined, he said.

A clear example of something being outside an airline's control is weather, but he said airlines could use that excuse when it's not the real problem.

"That's where the government needs to be ready to audit and say 'Actually no, we don't think you were telling the truth in that particular instance,'" he said.

With files from Radio-Canada's Yasmine Mehdi

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