Phase two of Passenger Bill of Rights to make for smoother travel experience
HALIFAX -- The hustle and bustle of the holidays is in full swing at Maritime airports with major increases in traffic as travellers come and go. Fortunately, new rules and regulations to make travelling a smoother experience will soon be in place as phase two of the Passenger Bill of Rights comes into effect on Sunday.
Prior to the changes, “tricky” is a word some airline passengers use to describe travelling during the holiday season – a time when tales of travel misfortune are commonplace at Canadian airports.
“The flight left and we had to book another flight,” says one traveller at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
“I was delayed in Halifax once – a year ago,” says another traveller. “It was real crazy.”
Responding to the plight of many air travelers, the Government of Canada is touting new regulations concerning protections for air passengers – hoping to resolve their travel woes.
“These new rules apply to all airlines that fly into, out of, or within Canada,” says Minister of Transportation, Marc Garneau.
The new set of regulations – in effect as of Sunday – require airlines to compensate passengers for long delays and cancellations. The new rules could see passengers being compensated anywhere from $400 to $1,000 – depending on the length of the delay.
The rules also require airlines to rebook or refund travel that is delayed more than three hours or cancelled.
However, there are exceptions – which air passenger rights advocates say is a problem.
“Canadians are being short-changed again. The new set of rules are favouring the airlines – not the passengers,” says air passenger rights advocate, Gabor Lukacs. “If the flight is cancelled or delayed due to weather, you get no compensation. But also, if the flight is delayed or cancelled for maintenance issues, which is the airlines' responsibility – you still get no compensation.”
And travellers agree.
“You can't help the weather – [I’m] not going to hold that over their heads,” says a traveller. “But mechanical issues – that's definitely something that should be re-tweaked.”
However, some say the new rules and regulations are a step in the right direction despite their shortcomings.
“The rights are not perfect, that's for sure,” says CAA director of public and government affairs, Julia Kent. “However, we didn't have anything before.”
For CAA, the regulations are a good start; but the organization says major work needs to be done when it comes to making sure passengers know the rules exist.
A survey released by CAA on Friday found 56 percent of those surveyed didn't know about the new rules – and they may not know they need to make a claim in order to receive compensation.
“It is not automatic, and in a perfect world, we would just receive a cheque when we are owed something that is the airline's fault.
Meanwhile, the new regulations may not last long, as a group of airline carriers and others have launched a legal challenge to the regulations – with a challenge now in front of the federal court of appeal. However, on Sunday, airlines must begin to abide by the new regulations until further notice.