Regulator unveils new passenger rights rules after pandemic revealed refund ‘gap’

Canada’s transport regulator is beefing up its passenger rights charter, placing more stringent rules around reimbursement by airlines.

The Canadian Transportation Agency says new regulations effective Sept. 8 will require carriers to either refund passengers or rebook them, at the traveller’s choice, if a flight is cancelled or significantly delayed.

Previously, the passenger rights regime only required refunds for flight disruptions that were within the airline’s control, which excluded situations ranging from storms to unscheduled mechanical issues.

Agency chair France Pégeot says the revision “will close the gap” in the framework that the COVID-19 pandemic revealed.

Thousands of Canadians have faced a slew of long delays and flight cancellations as airlines and security and customs agencies struggle to handle a staffing shortage amid the recent travel surge, a problem that is expected to continue through much of the next two months — leaving summer travellers without protection from the new rules, which don’t kick in until fall.

The regulations will require airlines to offer a rebooking or refund within 30 days if they cannot provide a new reservation within 48 hours of a flight cancellation or “lengthy delay.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2022.

The Canadian Press