Government of Canada announces Flight Rights Canada for air travellers



    OTTAWA, Sept. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, today launched Flight Rights
Canada, strengthening consumer protection for air travellers. Flight Rights
Canada will benefit Canadians by increasing awareness of their rights when
travelling by air, and by ensuring transparency and accountability of air
carriers. The foundation for Flight Rights Canada already exists in Canadian
legislation.
    "Through Flight Rights Canada, air travellers will be reassured that
options are available to them if they are inconvenienced. Consumer protection
is important to our government and that's why we are taking further action,"
said Minister Cannon. "The introduction of Flight Rights Canada will help make
sure that air travellers know their rights as consumers, and that obligations
of air carriers are reflected in how they provide services."
    In 2007, An Act to Amend the Canada Transportation Act was passed that
included measures to better inform the travelling public of their rights as
consumers. Domestic air carriers are now required to prominently display their
terms and conditions of carriage at their business offices and to post this
information on their websites. Regulations are being developed to require
international carriers selling air transportation to and from Canada to also
post their terms and conditions of carriage on their websites. In addition, an
informal complaints process within the Canadian Transportation Agency was also
made available.
    Passengers who are not satisfied with the level of protection provided by
an air carrier also have options available to them, including the purchase of
additional insurance. Flight Rights Canada will make information available to
air travellers in several ways. It will inform Canadians of their rights
through prominent signage at key airports. Flight Rights Canada reminds air
travellers that they are entitled to ask for and receive a carrier's terms and
conditions of carriage, and explains the complaints mechanism in place that
ensures carriers are held to account for their commitments.
    The Flight Rights Canada initiative is another important step in ensuring
our air travel system delivers for Canadians.

    Backgrounders with the Flight Rights Canada statement of principles and
the Code of Conduct of Canada's Airlines are attached.


    
                                 Backgrounder
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                                FLIGHT RIGHTS
                                -------------

    - Air passengers in Canada are entitled to easy access to information
      regarding their rights with respect to air transportation services,
      including but not limited to such things as denied boardings,
      cancellations, and long delays. Passengers are also entitled to
      information about services for air travellers with various
      disabilities.
    - Carriers are obligated to make their terms and conditions of carriage
      easily available to passengers.
    - Air transportation regulations specify what elements must be addressed
      in a carrier's terms and conditions of carriage.
    - Carriers are required to address matters such as compensation for
      denied boarding as a result of overbooking, delays, cancellations,
      passenger re-routing, and lost and damaged baggage.
    - The terms and conditions of carriage are legally binding on carriers.
    - Passengers have recourse to a complaints resolution process that begins
      with the air carrier. Under this process, passengers should seek direct
      redress or remedy first from the carrier for any breach of service
      commitments or obligations.
    - Passengers may seek corrective measures or a refund of direct expenses
      incurred, if they believe an air carrier has not lived up to the
      commitments in its published tariffs.
    - If a complaint is not resolved between a passenger and the air carrier,
      the passenger can contact the Canadian Transportation Agency at
      1-888-222-2592 or by e-mail at info@cta-otc.gc.ca. The Agency is an
      administrative tribunal with quasi-judicial powers. It is responsible
      for a wide range of adjudicative and economic matters pertaining to
      federally regulated air transportation.
    - The Agency initially uses an informal approach to manage complaints. If
      passengers are unsatisfied with the informal process, they can launch a
      formal complaint to the Agency.

                                                               September 2008



                                 Backgrounder
                                 ------------
                                 ------------

                     CODE OF CONDUCT OF CANADA'S AIRLINES
                     ------------------------------------

    1) Passengers have a right to information on flight times and schedule
       changes. Airlines must make reasonable efforts to inform passengers of
       delays and schedule changes and to the extent possible, the reason for
       the delay or change.
    2) Passengers have a right to take the flight they paid for. If the plane
       is over-booked or cancelled, the airline must:
       a) find the passenger a seat on another flight operated by that
          airline;
       b) buy the passenger a seat on another carrier with whom it has a
          mutual interline traffic agreement; or
       c) refund the unused portion of the passenger's ticket.
    3) Passengers have a right to punctuality.
       a) If a flight is delayed and the delay between the scheduled
          departure of the flight and the actual departure of the flight
          exceeds 4 hours, the airline will provide the passenger with a meal
          voucher.
       b) If a flight is delayed by more than 8 hours and the delay involves
          an overnight stay, the airline will pay for overnight hotel stay
          and airport transfers for passengers who did not start their travel
          at that airport.
       c) If the passenger is already on the aircraft when a delay occurs,
          the airline will offer drinks and snacks if it is safe, practical
          and timely to do so. If the delay exceeds 90 minutes and
          circumstances permit, the airline will offer passengers the option
          of disembarking from the aircraft until it is time to depart.
    4) Passengers have a right to retrieve their luggage quickly. If the
       luggage does not arrive on the same flight as the passenger, the
       airline will take steps to deliver the luggage to the passenger's
       residence/hotel as soon as possible. The airline will take steps to
       inform the passenger on the status of the luggage and will provide the
       passenger with an over-night kit as required. Compensation will be
       provided as per their tariffs.
    5) Nothing in Flight Rights Canada would make the airline responsible for
       acts of nature or the acts of third parties. Airlines are legally
       obligated to maintain the highest standards of aviation safety and
       cannot be encouraged to fly when it is not safe to do so. Similarly,
       airlines cannot be held responsible for inclement weather or the
       actions of third parties such as acts of government or air traffic
       control, airport authorities, security agencies, law enforcement or
       Customs and Immigration officials.
    6) Flight Rights Canada does not exclude additional rights you may have
       under the tariffs filed by your airline with the Canadian
       Transportation Agency, or legal rights that international and trans-
       border passengers have pursuant to international conventions (e.g.,
       the Warsaw Convention) and related treaties.

                                                               September 2008
    




For further information:

For further information: Catherine Loubier, Director of Communications,
Office of the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa,
(613) 991-0700; Media Relations, Transport Canada, Ottawa, (613) 993-0055;
Transport Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca. Subscribe to news releases and
speeches at www.tc.gc.ca/e-news and keep up to date on the latest from
Transport Canada. This news release may be made available in alternative
formats for persons with visual disabilities.


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