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Stranded flyers deserve compensation, consumer group urges

The president of the Consumers' Association of Canada plans to press Transport Canada for improved protection for airline passengers after hundreds of travellers were left stranded over the holidays.

The president of the Consumers' Association of Canada plans to press Transport Canada for improved protection for airline passengers after thousands of travellers were left stranded over the holidays.

Bruce Cran said delays caused by inclement weather are only excusable for up to two days, noting the airlines should have to pay for hotels and other expenses for travellers left waiting for longer periods of time.

"It's probably the heaviest issue that I've ever struck," he said, adding his group had received more than 300 phone calls regarding the most recent storm.

"And it affected more people than I've ever noticed before. The problem is the way that people have been treated, mainly by Air Canada."

Travellers Maxime and Mike Wilson-Young said they spent five days waiting to fly home from Calgary to Burnaby after Air Canada cancelled their flight. The couple arrived home on Dec. 26 after finding a flight on a WestJet plane.

"It was lack of communication [that] was the most frustrating thing. We didn't understand why can some planes fly in and Air Canada can't fly in," Maxime Wilson-Young said.

The couple is seeking a refund and $600 in hotel costs from Air Canada. The Montreal-based carrier says it is evaluating requests on a case-by-case basis.

Under a new program called Flight Rights Canada announced in September, airlines must provide stranded passengers meal and hotel vouchers when flights are delayed — except in cases of inclement weather.

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