Travel & Leisure

Air Travellers Now Have More Rights

Additions to a passengers’ bill of rights ensure compensation for delayed flights

Photo: iStock/Franck-Boston.

Additions to a new passengers’ bill of rights that came into effect last summer (2019) ensure airline passengers up to $1,000 in compensation if they experience significant delays at the airport.

As of December, the Air Passenger Protection Regulations will ensure compensation whenever the delays are caused by the carrier itself. Thus, the airline will have to pay you if you get bumped from a flight because the airline overbooked it. The airlines aren’t responsible for compensating passengers if a delay is caused by something beyond the carriers’ control, such as safety concerns.

If a carrier doesn’t comply with the new rules, it can be fined as much as $25,000, and in the event that a passenger and an airline can’t resolve a dispute, the passenger can complain to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).

For major carriers such as Air Canada and WestJet, passengers can receive:

  • $400 for delays of three to six hours
  • $700 for delays of six to nine hours
  • $1,000 for delays surpassing nine hours

For small carriers, passengers can receive:

  • $125 for a delay of three to six hours
  • $250 for a delay of six to nine hours
  • $500 for a delay of more than nine hours

The new rules also provide more protections should your flight be cancelled at the last minute. Airlines have to ensure that they can complete your planned itinerary. If a carrier’s next flight out isn‘t leaving within nine hours of the originally scheduled departure time, the airlines will be required to book a flight with another carrier. And if the rebooked seat has to be in a higher class, passengers have to be refunded the difference.

Whenever delays surpass two hours, airlines are required to communicate details about the delay and provide food and drink “taking into account the length of the delay, time of day, and the location of the delay.”

The bill also ensures that parents and guardians are able to sit in close proximity to their children, as long as they are under 14. Children under five must be seated directly next to their parents, those between five and 11 must be seated in the same row and not more than two seats away, and those over 11 must be seated within two rows of their parents.