Airlines with a Canadian presence will soon be subject to rules, which will provide their passengers with a standard set of rights. These rules will apply to all commercial flights within, to and from Canada, and are designed to standardize passenger standards of treatment, compensation and communication. The proposed rules (Rules) were released on December 22, 2018 and are currently in draft, but are likely to be finalized and brought into force by the summer of 2019.
Known officially as the Air Passenger Protection Regulations, and colloquially as the passenger bill of rights, the Rules fall under the Canada Transportation Act. The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) prepared the Rules following a consultation earlier in 2018 with industry, consumer advocates and the public. This consultation was informed by, among other things, existing passenger treatment standards in the United States and the European Union. The CTA will be accepting comments on the Rules for a 60-day period, ending on February 20, 2019.
The Rules cover seven areas, including denied boarding, tarmac delays, lost or damaged baggage, seating of children and, perhaps most significantly, flight delays and cancellations. A plain language summary of the Rules is available here.
For the most part, the Rules will apply to all airlines regardless of size. One exception is compensation for cancellations and delays of over three hours due to incidents within the airline's control. In such cases, large airlines will be required to make payments that are more generous to their affected passengers. Large airlines are those that have moved over one million passengers per year in the two preceding years, and those operating a flight or carrying passengers on behalf of such an airline. According to the CTA, large airlines operate the vast majority of flights to, from and within Canada.
The intent of the Rules is to provide a set of minimum standards, and will be deemed to form part of the agreement between an airline and its passenger (i.e. the tariff), to the extent that the tariff does not provide more generous terms and conditions.
An airline failing to comply with the Rules will be subject to penalties of up to $25,000 Canadian dollars (CAD) per incident. Passengers are able to file a complaint to the CTA in the event of a dispute with an airline.
As mentioned, the CTA is accepting comments on the Rules until February 20, 2019. Comments can be submitted to email@example.com.
The final regulations are expected to be published in the spring of 2019, and to be brought into force by the summer. We will issue another alert when the final version and the date of implementation are released.
Please plan for the application of these Rules for your commercial flights within, to and from Canada in 2019.
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