A new passenger bill of rights in Canada will bar airlines from bumping passengers from flights against their will.
The country’s transportation minister Marc Garneau had promised the measure last month in the wake of widespread alarm after a United Airlines passenger was seriously injured when he was dragged from an overbooked aircraft in Chicago.
The change is part of a package of amendments to the Canada transportation act announced on Tuesday which also introduces new foreign ownership limits for airlines.
The new legislation could be introduced next year.
Garneau said there will be minimum levels of compensation for people who voluntarily agree to be bumped from a flight.
There will also be compensation for lost or damaged bags.
Airlines will have to spell out what they will do for passengers who are delayed due to situations within an airline’s control, as well as how they will ensure passengers complete their travel if they are delayed due to weather.
The specifics of what will be compensated and with how much will not be determined until regulations are introduced after the legislation is passed.
Garneau said: “We have all heard recent news reports of shoddy treatment of air passengers.
“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.”
The legislation also increases the cap on foreign ownership of Canadian airlines to 49% from 25%, and introduces new allowances for airlines to enter into joint ventures with international carriers.
Air Canada welcomed the change to allow it to seek out new investors.
However, Canadian air passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs, who has challenged airlines and won numerous times, described the legislation “the air passenger bill with no rights”.
The bill fails to layout compensation amounts for shoddy treatment, including being forcibly bumped due to overbooking, delays while already on board and lost or damaged baggage, consumer bodies claim.
Lukacs and Consumers Association of Canada president Bruce Cran are concerned about a section of the new legislation which says both domestic and international complaints “may only be filed by a person adversely affected”.
That would block the association and Lukacs from taking legal action against an airline or the industry over what they might perceive is a systemic problem, local CBC News reported.
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