New airline passenger protections have passed for our neighbor to the north, offering increased Canadian air rights for travelers impacted by delays and other air travel inconveniences. But advocates on both sides—the airlines and some consumer groups—are not happy with the new rules.
What Changes, and When
The protections cover a wide range of issues, from overbooked flights to lost bags to tarmac delays. Here are a few highlights of the changing Canadian air rights:
- Up to $1,000 compensation for delayed or cancelled flights (within the airline’s control)
- Up to $2,100 for lost luggage
- Up to $2,400 for being bumped from a flight
- Reasonable food and drink during flight delays, plus accommodations for overnight delays
- Mandatory rebookings when delays pass three hours
- Planes must return to the gate and allow passenger to de-board when a tarmac delay exceeds three hours
Some of these rules take effect now, but others—notably the rules focused on delays, cancellations, and rebookings—won’t go into effect until December 15. The new rules apply to all flights to, from, and within Canada, including connecting flights. That means Americans, or anyone else flying through Canada, can expect increased rights.
Why Some Are Unhappy
Despite appearing comprehensive and rather reasonable, the new rules aren’t exactly going over well with airlines or consumer advocates, according to the CBC.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), and international airline trade group, contends that the new rules violate international agreements, and a federal court to invalidate the regulations. But while it isn’t necessarily surprising that the airlines would be displeased with strict new regulations on their industry, it is a bit surprising that airline consumer groups are criticizing the rules as well.
In particular, some disability rights group say the tarmac delay rules don’t go far enough to protect passengers who can’t sit for prolonged lengths of time. In those cases, the three-hour tarmac delay allotment can extend a long but manageable flight into an unmanageable ordeal.
Overall, however, these new regulations bring a measure of reassurance and protection to travelers flying through Canadian airspace, including American travelers flying to or connecting through Canada.