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CTA Decisions Give More Rights to Canadian Air Passengers

More Choices for Passengers on Disrupted Flights

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Updated: 7/23/12

Remedies for Overbooked, Cancelled or Delayed Flights

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) ruled in five separate decisions on June 28, 2012 that three Canadian airlines - Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat - must give passengers more choice when their flights are disrupted. The CTA looked at what remedies would be reasonable for airlines to take when passengers have their travel disrupted because of overbooking or cancellations that are within the airlines' control.

Up to now, the airlines could set their own terms, and usually did so on the basis of their commercial interests, with no consideration for how "reasonable' they might be for passengers.

More Rights and Choices for Passengers

The decisions mean that

  • if a flight is delayed, overbooked or cancelled, passengers will be able to choose whether they prefer a refund or wish to be rebooked.

  • in some cases, the airlines must consider rebooking passengers on the first available flight(s), including flights with non-partner carriers.

  • if overbooking or cancellation of a flight results in the passengers choosing to no longer travel, they will be entitled to a free return flight home within a reasonable time, and a full refund of the ticket price.

The decisions also applied consistency to make sure consumers are protected while travelling with the airlines both within and to and from Canada.

WestJet and Air Transat had already made policy amendments that met most of the new rights, and were given until July 28 to incorporate or clarify the rest of the changes. Air Canada has until August 12 to revise its tariffs to comply with the CTA’s decisions. All three airlines have 30 days to appeal the new rules.

Gábor Lukács

The decisions arose from complaints filed by Gábor Lukács, a young former math professor, who has become something of an airline activist. You might recall an earlier campaign by Lukács when he was at the University of Manitoba and tried, unsuccessfully, to get the university to rescind the granting of a Ph.D. to a student who had failed all his courses because of "extreme exam anxiety."

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