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May 16, 2017

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

OTTAWA – 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.

“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
CAA is a federation of eight Clubs providing over six million Members with exceptional emergency roadside service, complete automotive and travel services, Member savings and comprehensive insurance services. CAA also advocates on issues of concern to its Members, including road safety, the environment, mobility, infrastructure and consumer protection.

For further information, please contact:
Kristine D’Arbelles
Manager, Public Affairs
CAA National
613-796-9404
kdarbelles@national.caa.ca



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