Canadian Air Passenger Protection Regulations: Airlines face increased compensation payouts

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Canadian Air Passenger Protection Regulations: Airlines face increased compensation payouts

Passengers flying in, out or within Canada will soon be entitled to compensation, clearly defined standards of treatment and help in ensuring they reach their final destination should their flight be disrupted.

The first phase of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) introduced by the Canadian Transportation Agency will come into effect on 15th July 2019, with more to follow on 15th December 2019. It follows a period of extensive consultation between the government, airlines and travellers.

When a situation within an airline’s control leads to a flight schedule being disrupted, customers will be entitled to claim from the carrier. Circumstances deemed to be within an airline’s control include:

  • Tarmac delays
  • Cancellations
  • Overbooking
  • Mechanical problems
  • Scheduled maintenance

If circumstances are outside the airline’s control, it is not required to provide financial compensation but will be required to complete a passenger’s itinerary. Examples of situations not within an airline’s control include:

  • Weather
  • Natural disasters
  • Security threats
  • Political instability

What rules come into effect on 15th July 2019?

Tarmac delays feature prominently in the first phase of regulations. During tarmac delays, the new rules state airlines must ensure:

  • Passengers have access to working toilets.
  • Passengers are provided with food and water.
  • Passengers can communicate with people not on board the plane (free of charge if possible).
  • Planes are cooled or kept warm depending on the weather outside.
  • Planes return to the gate after a three-hour wait on the tarmac, giving passengers a chance to disembark.

There are also new rules in relation to overbooking. These include:

  • Passengers who are prevented from boarding a plane because of overbooking will be entitled to compensation depending on the amount of time they are delayed in reaching their destination.
  • Delays of under six hours will mean passengers are due at least $900, six to nine hours will mean a minimum $1,800 compensation payment and delays over nine hours will lead to a minimum of $2,400 being due.

Airlines must also pay $2,100 in compensation for any lost or damaged bags, as well as having to refund any baggage fees paid for the luggage in question.

What does Phase 2 include?

Phase 2 is due to be introduced on 15th December 2019 and will focus on the rules surrounding cancelled and delayed flights.

From this date, passengers will be entitled to compensation depending on the length of the delay in reaching their destination, with those over three hours costing large airlines – defined as those that have carried more than two million passengers in the last two years – between $400 and $1,000 per passenger and small airlines between $125 and $500.

Airlines must also ensure passengers:

  • Are re-booked on a competing airline if they are delayed for more than nine hours.
  • Fly in the same class of service they originally booked.
  • Will receive a refund and appropriate compensation if the trip is rendered useless due to a delay or cancellation.
  • Have children under the age of five seated next to their parent or guardian and children between five and 11 in the same row and no more than one seat away.

Airlines that fail to adhere to the new regulations could be fined up to $25,000 per incident.

The experts’ view

Nicholas Key
CEO, 15below

“APPR in Canada, much like Europe’s EU261, reflects the growing legislation being put in place around the world defining how passengers must be managed when things go wrong with their flight.

“Airlines must now more than ever prioritise customer experience and in particular communication at times of disruption to avoid costly penalties.

“Providing travellers with personalised, real-time, accurate notifications that enable them to self-serve can no longer be seen as a nice-to-have project led by the customer service team but rather an essential part of an airline’s everyday operations.”

Marc Garneau
Canadian Transport Minister

“Our goal was to provide a world-leading approach to air passenger rights that would be predictable and fair for passengers while ensuring our air carriers remain strong and competitive.

“After a long and thorough consultation process, I am proud to say these new regulations achieve that balance and will give air travellers the rights and treatment they pay for and deserve.”

It’s been a busy summer of regulatory changes relating to the aviation industry, with the air passenger rights bill in Canada coming just weeks after the update to IATA Resolution 830d.

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