Canada moves to raise awareness of air travellers’ rights

THE Canadian Transportation Agency has set up an online tariff repository to raise air travellers’ awareness of their rights so that they can make informed choices when booking to fly with a particular airline.  The repository also contains information on the terms and conditions of carriage of each airline.

The information can be accessed at the Agency’s website: http://www.otc-cta.gc.ca/eng/air-carrier-tariffs-posted-websites.

The Agency said: “Tariffs are key provisions with respect to air passenger rights in Canada. Consumers have the right to access a carrier’s tariff, know what a carrier’s terms and conditions of carriage are and what a carrier’s obligations to them are when they travel by air.”

This is a continual effort on the part of the Canadian authorities to protect consumers’ rights, which across the globe are often compromised by air carriers refusing to admit responsibility for flight disruptions and inconveniences caused to their customers that may be within their control. Passengers may not be aware of the implied agreement in the fine print, which, frankly, is rarely read by most customers. Yet they may have been misled or caused to misunderstand the terms of carriage.

In an earlier initiative, the Agency had wanted all carriers to display prominently information about the rights of passengers who are travelling with them.

There is so much that the Agency can do to raise the awareness of air travellers to their rights. Those who believe that airlines are not living up to their obligations may complain to the Agency, which, for example in the case of a tariff complaint about non-application or unreasonable and unjust applications, can enforce the application of certain tariffs.

All’s well and good, and the Agency should be commended for moving to protect the rights of air travellers and give them a little more bite in their justified complaints against airlines that fail to honour their obligations. The next issue is the difficult one, i.e. enforcement, something which the European Union watchdog has been grappling with even though that it has guidelines on the amount of compensation to be made good to customers by airlines in specific cases of default.

By the way, airlines can also access the repository to compare their tariff provisions with those of their competitors.

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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