New passenger bill of rights a 'band-aid solution,' critics say
An Air Canada flight makes its final approach as it lands at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Amara McLaughlin, CTV News Toronto
Published Tuesday, May 16, 2017 8:36PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 16, 2017 8:41PM EDT
The federal government introduced legislation on Tuesday to create a new passenger bill of rights, laying out how travelers will be compensated and treated by airlines.
While some airline passengers think it’s a great way to curb mistreatment, other critics say it doesn’t go far enough.
'Legislation seeks to enhance the traveler’s experience'
Transportation Minister Marc Garneau unveiled a package of amendments to the Canada Transportation Act prohibiting the removal of passengers against their will when the flight is overbooked.
Garneau promised the proposal will create a clear standard for minimum levels of compensation for voluntarily giving up a seat, when luggage is lost or damaged, or a flight is delayed while sitting on a tarmac. It also lists parents will not be forced to pay extra to sit with their children if the kids are under the age of 14.
“There are rules at the moment but they’re rather opaque to the average flyer,” Garneau said. “This legislation seeks to enhance the traveler’s experience by also providing more options and lower fares.”
Mistreatment of passengers not tolerated in Canada, Garneau says
This proposal comes one month after the wake of widespread outcry for a United Airlines passenger who was seriously injured when he was dragged from a plane in Chicago because the flight was overbooked.
“We have all heard recent news reports of shoddy treatment of air passengers,” Garneau told reporters in Ottawa. “Such incidents will not be tolerated in Canada.
“When Canadians buy an airline ticket, they expect the airline to keep its part of the deal.”
'All the joy of travelling is gone'
Passengers at Pearson International Airport told CTV News Toronto mistreatment has gone too far.
“We’ve lost all common sense with protocol and decorum with large corporations,” said Ron who was traveling to Paris. “That should be first and foremost and we wouldn’t have this, but I believe someone should step in as a mediator.”
Another man headed to the United Kingdom told CP24 the federal government shouldn’t have let the conditions on airlines stretch this far with what’s acceptable treatment in the first place.
“I don’t know necessarily that it needed to get to the point where we’re having an amendment to a bill,” Adrian said. “I think that the airlines should have taken care of this at their level.”
One mother says she experienced first-hand the deplorable conditions on airlines when travelling with her kids. Barb Morandin claims she was “shocked” when separated from her son who has autism on a flight.
“I thought that wouldn’t be possible,” she explained.
But these are just some of the conditions Adrian says Canadians have gotten used to.
“They’ve scaled back service to such a degree that everyone is used to sitting in a tin can and getting treated badly and eating bad food” he said. “I think the fact that the government has to step in says a lot about corporations.”
The new legislation isn’t a catch all for everyone.
Passenger rights activists call it a “band-aid solution” that doesn’t properly address the underlying issues.
Jeremy Cooperstock is an air passenger rights advocate. He doesn’t think this bill will change anything.
“We sacrifice our rights, normal expectations as consumers when we go to the airport and board our flight,” he said.
Cooperstock explained the changes that were dealt with today are only issues that are highlighted sporadically.
New legislation to be implemented in 2018
The specifics of what will be compensated and with how much won’t be determined until regulations are introduced after the legislation is passed, Garneau warned.
Further penalties that would be applied if airlines do not live up to the new requirements are still being considered, he added.
Garneau wants the new legislation in place in 2018.