Politics

Canadians will weigh in on compensation for bumped flights, lost bags

Canadian travellers and other stakeholders will have their say on new passenger protection regulations, including rules on compensation for bumped flights and lost bags.

Three-month public consultation process will also help craft rules for tarmac delays, cancelled flights

The Canadian Transportation Agency has launched public consultations on the new passengers' 'bill of rights' to help work out compensation levels and other details. (Mike Cassese/Reuters)

Canadian travellers and other stakeholders will have their say on new passenger protection regulations, including rules on compensation for bumped flights and lost bags.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) kicked off a three-month consultation process today to help the federal government draft regulations for a new passengers' 'bill of rights' in an amended Canada Transportation Act. The federal government's recently passed legislation also promises clear guidelines for dealing with travellers delayed due to aircraft problems or bad weather, and tarmac delays longer than three hours.

The consultation process will include a new website, passenger surveys, meetings with stakeholders and sessions in eight cities. CTA CEO Scott Streiner said that while the authority to administer penalties to airlines already exists, the new regulations will establish set guidelines for compensation in various circumstances.

"We're going to consult with Canadians, we're going to consult with the industry and consumer groups," Streiner said at a media event at the Ottawa International Airport today. "We'll hear what they have to say.

"But we would expect that at the end of the day, there will be some general provisions for delays, and then there will be some additional, some supplementary provisions for delays of three hours or longer."

The new legislation also prohibits extra fees for parents who want to be seated next to their children, and creates new standards for transporting musical instruments.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau told reporters today he wants the rules in place as soon as possible, but could not provide a firm time frame. After the public consultation wraps up Aug. 28, the CTA will review the input and make recommendations to government.

"It's a matter of months as opposed to years," Garneau said.

The Canadian Automobile Association, which has pushed for passenger protections, issued a statement warning that it remains to be seen whether a fair and proactive protection system will be put in place. 

"Whether you're entitled to a $10 food voucher or several hundred dollars makes a big difference," said Jeff Walker, CAA's chief strategy officer.

Public consultation sessions will be held between June 14 and July 4 in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Yellowknife, Winnipeg, Montreal, Halifax and Ottawa. A live online event will be held July 5.

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