CAA advocating for clearer, simpler rules for air passengers

CAA advocating for clearer, simpler rules for air passengers
Not very many people know what they’re owed or what to ask for when they’re bumped from a flight, flight is cancelled or if their baggage gets lost.

That’s why the Transportation Modernization Act has mandated the Canadian Transportation Agency to overhaul their regulations and clarify airline’s obligations.

The CTA is hosting public hearings across the country to allow C​anadians to have their say on air passenger protection while they’re developing new legislation.

A consultation was held in Winnipeg, Monday.

CAA Manitoba’s Liz Kulyk said she’s pleased the federal government is taking the issue of air passenger protection seriously.

“Canada has been lagging for very many years and it has gone untouch virtually for as long as travelers can remember,” Kulyk said.  “Countries like the United States and lots of countries in the European Union are a lot further ahead providing specific information and making sure air travelers rights are fair and clear in every instance.”

The CTA was instructed to develop regulations governing airlines’ responsibilities for things like lost luggage, family seating arrangements, flight delays and tarmac delays.  All those inconvenient travel scenarios travelers have encountered at one point or another.

Kulyk said she hopes airlines will be more forthcoming in their compensation.

“Airlines don’t give specific information when a trip is cancelled or when there is a disruption of any kind, very often you’re sitting at the gate waiting and then all of sudden your flight is cancelled and you have no idea why and people are looking for information, so something as making that information publicly disclosed whether it’s through email alerts or posters.”

“There needs to be more proactive compensation,” Kulyk explained.  “Rather than waiting for the traveler to go through the whole process to contact the CTA and it’s a lengthy process, hopefully it will be shortened after this, but we really think airlines need to be the ones making that proactive contact with the travelers.”

Some of the main talking points at Monday’s hearing included airlines’ obligations to clearly communicate clearly, flight delays and cancellations, denied boarding (when you’re bumped or if they need to change an aircraft and thus delay the flight), lost or damaged baggage, tarmac delays and seating of children under 14 years old (kids must be seated near a parent or guardian for no cost).

Kulyk said the CTA needs to look at circumstances involving compensation to figure out when airlines are more or less responsible, which could guide levels of compensation.

“It is the airline’s responsibility if they can’t staff a flight, or if they have mechanical problems, so we think the CTA really needs to strengthen the process to make it very clear, under what specific circumstances the airline is more responsible than less responsible.”

Kulyk added compensation should be paid in cash.  “What happens, not in every situation but very frequently, when a flight is over booked they’ll ask for volunteers to step off the plane and get a little bit of credit, or even if you can’t get on the plane at all, they’re going to offer you a voucher for a future flight.  We don’t think that’s fair because as travelers and consumers we should have the right to pick and choose who we fly with and they’re almost hamstringing you into flying with that airline again when you’ve might not have been happy with that service and you want to go somewhere else.”

People who could not attend Monday’s hearing are still able to provide feedback.  An online questionnaire and call-in sessions will run until July 5th.
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