Travellers air thoughts on passenger bill of rights

Airline passengers react to the introduction of the long-awaited air passenger bill of rights, announced Monday in Ottawa.

Proposed legislation is long overdue, airline passengers say

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau outlined the new draft regulations for passenger rights Monday at the Ottawa airport. 1:26

We've all heard the horror stories of travellers stuck in airports for hours on end, bumped from overbooked flights, their luggage lost. 

Soon some of those Canadian passengers could be eligible for hundreds of dollars in compensation.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau officially unveiled the first version of the long-awaited air passenger bill of rights Monday morning. The details will be published in the Canada Gazette this week, and Canadians are being encouraged to submit their comments.

We got a head start on gathering that feedback by speaking with Laura Mah.

She was one of the passengers stuck on board Air Transat Flight 157 from Brussels, which sat on the tarmac in Ottawa for six hours in July 2017, prompting call to 911.

Travellers at the Ottawa Airport on Monday react to the introduction of a passenger bill of rights. 0:25

Laura Mah, Ottawa

It was over 30 degrees in that airplane and they ran out of water at one point and it just got ridiculous, and you're just like, how is this possible that we're on this airplane and there's resources right next door at the airport but this is what's happening to us? It was crazy.

I hope that we see these laws enforced, and that once it's in place that we don't see any more disasters like ours where we're just stuck endlessly on the airplane. So [I'm] crossing my fingers that actually works out the best for the passengers.

Other passengers at the Ottawa Airport were similarly pleased to see action.

The proposed bill includes a requirement that passengers be allowed to leave the airplane, when it's safe, if a tarmac delay lasts for over three hours and there's no prospect of an imminent takeoff. 

Brent Murdock, Edmonton

I think it's an excellent thing that's going to happen. I'm not 100 per cent sure of all the details, but clear communication is one of them that I heard about, which is always good.

I've heard so many stories about people and their horror stories about being left alone in the airport with no support, so it's a good thing.

Mabel Lewis, Ottawa

Yes, I'm glad they decided to change things because it's not all of us [who] can sit out here all day and not eat. Some people are diabetic and they have to eat at certain times.

I'm a senior, so sitting out here all day, it's a problem for me.

Ann Corbitt, Toronto

I think three [hours] is still too long, I think it should be anywhere from an hour and half to maybe two, maximum. Three is still long, but three is better than nothing."

It's always been [in] the favour of the airlines and not in the favour of the actual passenger or the consumer itself. So now it's time that the tables turn, and I'm delighted to see it.

Grace Lai, Ottawa

Of course I welcome these procedures, because sometimes I lost luggage and they don't compensate, some of the airlines aren't very good.

They let you sit in the plane for two hours, just waiting for no reason. Maybe they have reasons but they don't tell us. So sitting there and no food, [it's] boring and you cannot go anywhere. You should let us at least go to the terminal to relax a little bit instead of sitting in the small seat.