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CAA hopes to help air passengers with new travel guide

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With nothing but blue skies at the Greater Moncton Romeo LeBlanc International Airport, Tuesday brought forward perfect travel conditions, but not every trip involves such little turbulence.

“Delayed flights are very common,” said Eric Plourd, who flies every two weeks for work.

“Baggage — I’ve had my baggage lost more times than I can count. Usually they’re pretty on point with getting it back, but there’s been times where it’s been up to almost a two-week delay which can be quite frustrating.”

Back in 2019, the Federal Government unveiled a new set of rules to better protect air passengers in Canada, but some experts are calling it confusing and hard to navigate, which is why on Tuesday, CAA released a new online guide to help travellers navigate their rights when it comes to air travel.

“There’s 60 pages and there’s very few people that are going to go through those and actually find out what, if anything, they are owed,” said CAA Atlantic Social Responsibility and Advocacy director, Julia Kent.

“This guide covers the most common issues that we see and in five clicks or less you can get exactly what you are owed and you can find out how to go about obtaining that.”

According to recent polling by CAA, 61 per cent of Canadians say they’ve experienced flight disruptions in the last two years or know someone who has.

Kent says over 80 per cent of Canadians came forward saying they want more transparency when it comes to how airlines are performing including how often they’re on time or how often they lose baggage.

“We really just want the protection to be accessible, easy to use and easy to understand for Atlantic Canadians,” she said.

Kirk Reid travels 10-15 times a year and he says he personally knows about his rights as an air passenger.

“There’s no point in having rights if you don’t actually use them,” he said.

He says it’s a personal responsibility and it should be a cooperative effort between the airlines, carriers and the public.

“Of course I’ve lost bags. Of course flights have been cancelled, whatever, but generally in this case the squeaky wheel does not get the grease,” he said.

“Really, by being honest and nice to people, you usually get taken care of in an appropriate way.”

However, many at the airport on Tuesday didn’t know about passenger rights or where they could turn, outside of the airport, if they were to run into problems.

“As I travel so much, I probably should look into what all my rights are in regards to that,” said Plourd.

Karen Rae was taking her first flight since the pandemic and she wishes the information was more readily available.

“When you go on to book a flight, it tells you all the things you can’t bring and you can’t do and you can’t take and … basically at the airport is the same, but you don’t have anyway to find out what your rights are,” she said.

She recalls one incident where she was stuck on the tarmac for nearly three hours before she was re-boarded onto another plane.

Kent says that according to Statistics Canada, 78.3 million Canadians flew in the second quarter of 2023.

“That’s a lot of people in the air and that’s a lot of people that deserve protection and deserve to know their rights and how they should be treated by airlines, so that’s really want we want. We want people to be treated fairly and we want them to easily understand what their rights are,” she said.

CAA’s new travel guide only focuses on the most common hiccups, such as delays or cancellations, baggage issues or even denied boarding, but it aims to be helpful resource for Canadians everywhere.

“This guide launched (Tuesday) is really great to make it easy to read, simple to understand, plain language and in five clicks or less you can find out what, if anything, you’re owed if you do experience a snafu at the airport,” she said.

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