Airlines barred from bumping passengers off flights against their will under Canada’s new bill of rights
OTTAWA — Airlines won’t be allowed to bump passengers from a flight against their will under a new passenger bill of rights introduced today by Transportation Minister Marc Garneau.
That change is part of a package of amendments 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 seriously injured when he was dragged from a plane in Chicago.
The minister earlier told airlines operating in Canada such an incident is not to happen here, but he says his goal with the new legislation is to spell out clearly that a passenger who has purchased a ticket cannot be barred from a plane just because the airline sold too many seats.
“We have all heard recent news reports of shoddy treatment of air passengers,” Garneau said at a news conference. “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.”
He said there will be minimum levels of compensation for people who voluntarily agree to be bumped from a flight and if airlines can’t get a volunteer, they will have to decide if they want to up the ante to persuade someone to get off.
The bill will apply to airlines flying within, into or out of Canada.
Garneau said the existing rules for compensating passengers who agree to give up a seat or whose luggage gets lost or damaged are “opaque” to the average flyer and the new rules will make things more clear and let passengers know where to go to seek compensation.