Canada’s Passenger Protection Regulations: More Bark Than Bite

Last year Transport Canada introduced a slew of regulations to protect passengers’ rights, among them legislation that mandates that an airline must compensate its customers in the event of a flight delay that is not beyond their control, often referred to as an act of God such as unforeseen weather conditions as in the case of a volcano eruption, or war.

The regulations set out the guidelines for compensation. The amount is dependent on the size of the airline and the duration of the delay.: CAD400/125 (USD301/95) (large/small airline) for 3 to 6 hours, CAD700/250 for 6 to 9 hours, and CAD1,000/500 for 9+ hours. It is not clear precisely where the diving line is, but that’s a small matter.

Courtesy Getty Images

The spate of complaints from some passengers who flew on Air Canada and their flights were delayed for as long as more than nine hours but whose applications for compensation were rejected by the airline only show how right skeptics were right from the start. There is more bark than bite in Transport Canada’s good intention.

Some WestJet passengers too have complained about similar situations.

Airlines continue to have the upper hand and know they can easily escape the clasp of the rule when they alone can decide the reason for delay, which can be as vague as due weather or security which most travellers would not question or know any better since safety must remain take precedence above all else.

The problem is implementation and monitoring, and the authorities must be the arbiter and hold the airline responsible where they have to be satisfied that the delay is due to circumstances beyond an airline’s control. Leaving the airline to fudge the real reason so as to avoid paying compensation to affected passengers is making a mockery of the regulations.

While Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick told CBC News that it is the airline’s policy to abide by the regulations, how can its customers be assured of that or know if the airline has flouted the rule?

The problem is not a new industry problem. Other authorities that have introduced similar measures to ensure that passengers are fairly treated by the airlines have been inundated with complaints and become saddled with investigations. The European Union for one is known to have taken faulting airlines to task and fine them.

Will Transport Canada show its teeth to ensure that airlines act fairly? If honesty is the basis, then can they bring an airline to task for not being truthful? What recourse has the affected passenger? To begin with, the reason for delay as made known by the airline must be more than just a fuzzy due weather or security. Most passengers can accept an airline’s concern for their safety as good enough to live with the regrettable situation.

About Dingzi
Writer by passion, with professional expertise in aviation, customer service and creative writing. Aviation veteran with more than 30 years' experience, columnist, pubished author of fiction, poetry, plays and travel stories, editor and management consultant. Nature lover who abhors cruelty of any form to animals, and a tireless traveler.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: