Canada’s transport regulator aims to beef up its passenger rights charter, placing more stringent rules around reimbursement by airlines.
New regulations effective Sept. 8 will require carriers to either refund passengers or rebook them, at the traveller’s choice, if a flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, the Canadian Transportation Agency said.
Previously, the passenger rights regime only required refunds for flight disruptions that were within the airline’s control, which excluded situations ranging from storms to unscheduled mechanical issues.
“These regulations will close the gap in the Canadian air passenger protection regime highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that even when cancellations and lengthy delays occur that are outside the airline’s control, passengers will be protected if the airline cannot complete their itinerary within a reasonable period of time,” agency chair France Pegeot said in a release Wednesday.
Thousands of Canadians have faced a slew of long delays and flight cancellations as airlines and security and customs agencies struggle to handle a staffing shortage amid the recent travel surge, a problem that is expected to continue through much of the next two months — leaving summer travellers without protection from the new rules, which don’t kick in until fall.
The regulations will require airlines to offer a rebooking or refund within 30 days if they cannot provide a new reservation within 48 hours of a flight cancellation or “lengthy delay.”
Any unused portion of a ticket must be covered, including “any unused add-on service paid for,” the regulator said. And a refund must be the same as the original payment method. That means a credit card purchase could not be reimbursed via cash — or travel voucher, as most Canadian airlines did for nearly a year starting in March 2020 amid hundreds of thousands of cancellations set off by the pandemic.
The new rules don’t go far enough for…