Know your travel rights: Airplane passengers in Canada are now entitled to monetary compensation for delays

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      The holiday season is upon us, and that means people are spending a lot of time at airports.

      Fortunately for Canadian travelers, if you’re spending an especially unusual amount of time at an airport this year, you might be entitled to new requirements for monetary compensation that took effect yesterday (December 15).

      According to revisions to the Air Passenger Protection Regulations that were finalized last May, if a passenger of a larger airline experiences a “flight disruption” that is within the control of the airline, the passenger is now entitled to $400 for a three-to-six hour delay, $700 for a six-to-nine hour delay, and $1,000 for a delay of more than nine hours.

      “Airlines have to offer passengers this compensation in monetary form. They can also offer passengers alternative forms of compensation (e.g., vouchers or rebates), but passengers always have the right to select what they prefer,” a government summary of the regulations reads. “As well, alternative forms of compensation offered have to be of higher value than the monetary compensation that is required, and can never expire.”

      The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) finalized the regulations last May. Some of the new rules took effect last July but the good stuff (monetary compensation) is dated December 15, 2019.

      If a passenger with a ticket is denied boarding for a reason that is within an airline’s control—overbooking or scheduled maintenance, for example—they are entitled to $900 compensation for a late arrival at their destination of zero-to-six hours, $1,800 for six-to-nine hours, and $2,400 for a delayed arrival of more than nine hours.

      In the event of delays on the tarmac, the new regulations state that an airplane must return to its gate and allow passengers to disembark if the plane is kept on the runway for more than three hours.

      “Standards of treatment for all tarmac delays include, at minimum, access to working lavatories, proper ventilation and heating or cooling, food and drink, and the ability to communicate with people outside the plane free of charge, if feasible,” the regulations summary reads.

      The new rules also apply to anyone visiting Canada, travelling from Canada, or passing through Canada, including on a stopover.

      “The regulations provide for clearer and more consistent air passenger rights by imposing certain minimum airline requirements in air travel—including standards of treatment and, in some situations, compensation for passengers,” the summary reads.