PEI

Transport Minister promises legislation on airline passenger rights

In the wake of another controversial case of passenger bumping, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau reiterated Tuesday that legislation addressing the rights of airline passengers is coming later this spring.

Bill of rights would be in place by 2018

Transport Minister Marc Garneau has promised legislation for passenger rights. (Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press)

In the wake of another controversial case of passenger bumping, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau reiterated Tuesday that legislation addressing the rights of airline passengers is coming later this spring.

Asked to comment about the case of a 10-year-old Prince Edward Island boy who was bumped from an Air Canada flight, Garneau said a bill of rights for passengers would be in place by 2018.

He wouldn't speculate on what measures would be included in the bill of rights — an idea that was floated last November.

'Fair' and 'practical'

Garneau said it would spell out situations where compensation could be had, adding it would be "fair" and recognize the rights of passengers while being "practical" for airlines.

"This is a clear recognition that when you buy a ticket to a flight somewhere, you have certain rights," he told reporters at an unrelated event in Montreal.

(From left) Simon, Shanna and Cole Doyle look at photos of their March Break vacation in Costa Rica. The family managed to fly out there after what Shanna says was a shocking experience when the family couldn't reserve a seat for their 10-year-old son Cole. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"This bill of rights will address the issue of what happens when you're not given the service you paid for and it is within the control of the airline, what measures to compensate you will be taken."

Family feels compensation falls short

The boy was bumped from an Air Canada flight that was supposed to take his family to Costa Rica during the March break.

Hopefully it will minimize the situations where we have overbooking and people are feeling they have no recourse.- Marc Garneau

The boy's father, Brett Doyle, said he negotiated with Air Canada to get a $2,500 voucher plus expenses, but that the amount falls short of covering tickets for the family of four.

Doyle said an apology came only after the media picked up on the story a few days ago.

'Should not have occurred'

But a spokeswoman for the airline said an apology by email was sent in mid-March, and is investigating what happened.

Cole Doyle, 10, was bumped off a flight during a March break trip to Costa Rica. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"Our policy is very clear and this situation involving a family travelling together should not have occurred," Isabelle Arthur said in a statement.

"We are following up to understand what went wrong."

The company told CBC News it issued a cheque of $1,000 to cover the expenses, in addition to the credit for future travel.

Passenger relief

Garneau promised to help people who feel they are getting short shrift when it comes to the airline industry's controversial practice of overselling flights and bumping passengers.

Garneau said enshrining certain rules could help.

"Hopefully it will minimize the situations where we have overbooking and people are feeling they have no recourse," he said.

Air Canada said the practice of overselling flights has been approved by the Canadian Transportation Agency.

now