UPDATE: New rules for airlines surrounding passenger compensation
Transport Minister Marc Garneau has introduced legislation to create a new passenger bill of rights, which will give travellers a better idea of when airlines will have to compensate them.
The legislation is part of a package of changes to the Canada Transportation Act, which also introduces new foreign ownership limits for airlines, requires railways to install voice and video recorders in locomotives and improves transparency and efficiency in the freight rail industry.
Garneau promised the bill of rights last month in the wake of widespread alarm after a United Airlines passenger was injured when he was dragged from a plane in Chicago.
Garneau has already told airlines operating in Canada such an incident is not to happen here, but the bill lays out more rules for the industry to follow and spells out in clear language that no one can be involuntarily removed from a plane due to overbooking.
The bill will enable the government to force airlines to create clear standards of treatment and compensation for circumstances including being denied boarding, delays while already on board and lost or damaged baggage.
Airlines will not be able to charge parents a fee to be able to sit next to their children, and carriers will also have to have standards for transporting musical instruments.
Airline consultant, Robert Kokonis from AirTrav Inc, says bumping isn't a problem normally seen in Canada. He says it's more often something that happens on budget carriers in the US where passengers really are treated as numbers.
But he warns any compensation plan should be worked on with the airlines.
"At the end of the day, any new costs will just be passed down to the passenger, in terms of being covered by fare increases." says Kokonis.
Porter Airlines released a statement, but declined to go on tape.
"The legislation introduced today requires further definition in a number of areas. Our policies already largely cover what the bill intends to define. Porter will participate in the process to clarify any necessary details and contribute in whatever way we can."
Air Canada also declined to go on tape, but released a statement that reads; "Air Canada welcomes the Government's desire to establish air passenger rights that are clear, consistent, transparent and fair for passengers and air carriers industry-wide. We believe it is in the interest of all parties to create a more predictable and fair system that applies to all airlines operating in Canada, which is not currently the case. Air Canada looks forward to participating in the consultation process relating to the new regulations over the coming months.
The increase of foreign ownership limits to 49 per cent (from 25 per cent) should provide improved access to international investors and global capital markets for Air Canada.
The proposed amendments to the legislative provisions governing joint ventures in the airline industry should facilitate the opening up of new markets by Air Canada and its joint venture partners and accelerate projects that are currently under consideration.
Air Canada constantly strives for customer service excellence, and is committed to doing so within a cost competitive framework. The airline is recognized as the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. According to the 2015 Canadian Business Travel Survey conducted by Ipsos Reid, Air Canada was the preferred airline for more than 80 percent of frequent business travellers in Canada. In 2016, readers of Global Traveler magazine again voted Air Canada "Best Airline in North America," and the readers of Business Traveler magazine voted Air Canada "Best North American Airline for International Travel" and "Best North American Airline for Inflight Experience."
(With files from Canadian Press)