Federal transport minister tells airlines to step up in new passenger bill of rights

Federal transport minister Marc Garneau has laid down the law - telling airlines what he expects of them in his new passenger bill of rights.

Garneau met with representatives of airlines in Montreal this morning at ICAO headquarters to discuss the law aimed at protecting passengers in cases of overbooked flights.

Garneau said he suggested airlines update their websites right away with their revamps of overbooking policies. The law is expected to be in place next year.

Garneau said he didn't want to see passengers booted against their will from overbooked flights, as seen in recent cases. Garneau said he also didn't want airlines charging parents to sit next to their children.

Garneau would not speculate on what compensation he'd like to see for passengers in cases of overbooked flights. He said he was confident the bill will have teeth.

"We're not putting passenger rights in place with compensations without also ensuring they will be enforceable," Garneau told reporters after the meeting.

CAA spokesman Ian Jack said they will be watching the situation closely to see how the law is enforced and what compensation is offered.

"What we need to do is get them high enough that the airlines are incented to do things right in the first place so people don't end up having to claim that money but not so high that the airlines are incented to get around the rules either," said Jack.

"An excellent first step from the government, lots of good talk. On paper, this looks wonderful. We now need to operationalize it so it really works on behalf of Canadians and that's going to be some hard work that's going to happen over the next six to nine months."