Enhanced protection for air passengers progressing, but lots of work remains, says CAA

QUEBEC CITY, May 16, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), one of Canada's largest leisure travel agencies, welcomes today's introduction of legislation to improve air passenger rights for Canadians, but warns a lot remains to be done to make sure the new system lives up to consumer expectations.

The proposed legislation sets out a clear list of items for which the airlines will be held responsible, and for which consumers can expect fair treatment. But exact terms of what will be covered, and what consumers will be owed in the event something within an airline's control goes wrong, will be determined through a consultation process.

"We are glad that the minister of Transport has considered most of the issues frequently experienced by air travellers. Unfortunately, recent events show that denied boarding, overbooking, flight delay and cancellation, lost baggage and long waits on the tarmac occur all too frequently. Let us hope that this bill will give rise to better practices, and provide fair compensation when such situations occur," says Sophie Gagnon, vice president of communications and public affairs at CAA-Quebec.

"This bill is a welcome first step that will finally begin to put Canadian air passenger consumer rights on par with those in the United States and Europe," said Jeff Walker, CAA vice president of public affairs. "But the details matter – if something goes wrong, will they owe you a cup of coffee, or $500? CAA will be watching the process closely to make sure the consumer interest is paramount when these decisions are made."

Canadians have been waiting for this news for a while. According to CAA polling, conducted even before a spate of recent incidents, nearly 90 per cent of Canadians said it is about time Canada has its own national airline consumer code. However, changes won't come immediately; the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) will be in charge of finalizing details.

"The CTA has been in charge of air passenger rights for a long time, and there's far more that can be done to be more consumer friendly," Walker said. "Most Canadians have never heard of them, and their process is slow and bureaucratic. They need to step up their game if this system is going to work."

As the current system exists in Canada, airlines each have their own policies, but it can be hard for passengers to find them and know what their rights are. Passengers can appeal to the CTA. In the United States and the European Union, governments have already passed strong consumer protection laws for air travellers.

Precise details will be developed through a regulatory process, including financial compensation under certain circumstances for:

  • Denied boarding (including overbooking), delays and cancellations
  • Lost or damaged baggage
  • Seating children near a parent or guardian at no extra cost

CAA has been advocating for clearer, simpler rules for air passengers for many years, on behalf of 6.2 million Members and all travellers.

About CAA-Quebec
CAA-Quebec, a not-for-profit organization, provides all of its members with peace of mind by offering them high-quality automotive, travel, residential and insurance benefits, products and services.

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For further information: Montreal: Annie Gauthier, 514 861-7111, ext. 6260, Cell. : 514 717-4040, annie.gauthier@caaquebec.com, Quebec City: Pierre-Olivier Fortin, 418 624-2424, ext. 6430, Cell. : 418 563-4590, pierre-olivier.fortin@caaquebec.com


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