On December 15, new federal rules mandating compensation for delayed and cancelled flights will arrive in Canada.
However, not every flight will be covered, and it will be up to passengers to collect their cash. Here’s what you need to know before boarding your next flight, starting Sunday.
The rules for delayed and cancelled flight compensation are part of Canada’s new air passenger regulations which cover flights to, from or within Canada on all airlines — not just Canadian carriers.
The first phase of the regulations took effect on July 15 and provide for up to $2,400 in compensation for passengers bumped from overbooked flights and up to $2,100 for lost or damaged baggage.
From December 15 onwards, the second phase of the regulations takes effect. They include rules that large airlines — such as Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat and Sunwing — must pay between $400 and $1,000 for applicable flights when passengers are delayed by three hours or more in reaching their final destination.
The mandated amount for smaller airlines, such as Swoop and Flair, will range from $125 to $500.
According to the regulations, airlines don’t have to pay compensation for flights that are delayed or cancelled due to uncontrollable factors such as bad weather, or mechanical problems discovered outside of routine maintenance checks.
European Union regulations for flight delays cover most mechanical issues and some critics have expressed concern that Canada’s more limited rules will mean that many passengers will get nothing for their delayed flight.
However, there are some who worry that widening the scope for compensation to include unexpected mechanical problems could encourage some airlines to fly even if they suspect a problem.
Airlines could even try to fudge the reason for flight delays to avoid paying compensation.
Going forward, airlines are expected to document reasons for each flight delay and cancellation, and, starting Dec. 15, they must report information about flight disruptions to Transport Canada.
The agency also said that if a passenger files a complaint with the agency about a delayed flight, the airline would have to demonstrate why the flight in question didn’t qualify for compensation.
Airlines caught violating the new regulations face up to $25,000 in fines per violation, the CTA said.
If your flight is delayed, it will be up to you to contact your airline and file a claim for compensation.
However, airlines are responsible for informing passengers about their rights. The regulations mandate that airlines must post passenger rights information on their website, passengers’ itineraries, and on notices displayed in key places at Canadian airports.
When airlines delay or cancel flights, they must also provide passengers with key information including the reason for the disruption and their entitlement to compensation.
Passengers have one year to file a claim following their flight delay. The airline then has 30 days to issue a cash payment or explain why it believes compensation isn’t warranted. -CINEWS