Wings Magazine

Options for passengers delayed on Canadian airlines

July 3, 2012, Ottawa - Passengers on Canada's major airlines will soon have more options when their flights are overbooked, delayed or cancelled.

July 3, 2012  By The Canadian Press

The decision by the Canadian Transportation Agency affects Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat.

It says passengers should be allowed to opt for a full refund and a free trip home if a cancellation or overbooking throws a wrench into their travel plans.

Until now, airlines have had discretion over whether to grant a refund or rebook passengers.

The agency also says that in certain cases carriers must rebook passengers on the first available flight — even if that flight is with a competing airline.


The rulings are in response to complaints filed by GDabor LukDacs, a Halifax resident, who has taken on the
airline industry several times.

In a news release Thursday, the agency noted that in the past, when refunds were warranted, passengers were only reimbursed for the unused portion of their tickets.

The ruling makes it clear that passengers will be able to choose whether they are rebooked or get a full refund. If they no longer want to follow through with their travel plans because of a delay or cancellation, they are entitled to be flown home free of charge — within a "reasonable time frame'' — and receive a full refund on their ticket.

The new regulations do not apply to disruptions caused by bad weather or security issues.

The agency noted that WestJet and Air Transat have made changes to their policies that meet most of the updated passenger rights. It is directing Air Canada to change its rules on overbooking, cancelling, delaying and rerouting flights. Air Canada has until Aug. 12 to comply.

The three airlines have 30 days to appeal the new rules.

LukDacs , 29, who used to teach at the University of Manitoba, has developed a reputation as a crusader for the rights of airline passengers.

In 2011, upon a complaint from LukDacs , the transportation agency declared Air Canada's international baggage liability for lost or damaged luggage unreasonable and ordered the airline to replace it.

The policy said Air Canada couldn't be held liable for valuables such as money and jewelry in checked baggage on certain itineraries.

LukDacs also scored a victory against WestJet when the transportation agency ruled the airline's $250 limit for luggage compensation was too low and ordered it raised to $1,800 — the amount dictated by relevant international regulations.

The airline appealed, but the Federal Court of Appeal rejected the challenge.


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