Politics

New compensation rules for flight delays, cancellations kick in Sunday

Canadians preparing to board flights over the coming holidays will be armed with more rights if their trips are delayed or cancelled.

Passengers delayed more than 9 hours will get $1K in compensation

The last phase of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations kick in Sunday, providing compensation for flight delays and cancellations. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press)

Canadians preparing to board flights over the coming holidays will be armed with more rights if their trips are delayed or cancelled. 

However, there's a long list of exemptions for airlines meaning not all disruptions will be covered. 

On Friday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau reminded travellers that new rules for delayed or cancelled flights will kick in on Sunday.

The first set of passenger-rights rules were announced in July, and address issues like overbooking, tarmac delays and compensation for lost luggage.

The second round of rules under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations deal with delayed and cancelled flights to, from or within Canada that are within their control and not related to safety.

The payouts will be based on how long a passenger is delayed before arriving at their final destination. Large airlines, including Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat and Sunwing, will have to pay a passenger $400 for delays between three and six hours and up to $1,000 if the flight is stalled more than nine hours.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau comments on new airline passenger protections coming into effect December 15. The protections include rules around compensation for cancelled or delayed flights, rebooking and making sure children are seated near their parent or guardian. 0:43

According to the regulations, airlines don't have to pay if the flight is delayed or cancelled due to uncontrollable factors such as bad weather, mechanical problems discovered outside of routine maintenance checks, medical emergencies and labour disruptions.

The new rules have been criticized for loopholes and for not going far enough

Airlines will have to start providing food and drink and means of communication, like free Wi-Fi after a two-hour delay. If the delay is overnight, the airlines are on the hook to pay passengers' hotel or other comparable accommodations.

The airline also has to ensure passengers reach their final destination.

The new rules also stipulate that airlines have to, at no extra cost, help seat children under age 14 near their parent, guardian or tutor. 

It's up to travellers to file a claim for compensation. 

Clarifications

  • This story has been updated from a previous version to include more information on the exemptions for airlines when it comes to delayed or cancelled flights.
    Dec 16, 2019 12:23 PM ET

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