New regulations took effect in Canada today that require airlines to provide passengers with either a refund or rebooking, at the passenger’s choice, when there is a flight cancellation, or a lengthy delay, due to a situation outside the airline’s control.
The new rule is an update to the the Air Passenger Protection Regulations formulated by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) in 2019. It applies to all flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights.
Until now, the Air Passenger Protection Regulations only required refunds to be provided for flight disruptions within the control of airlines.
The new regulatory requirements:
- Require airlines to provide a passenger affected by a cancellation or a lengthy delay due to a situation outside the airline’s control with a confirmed reservation on the next available flight that is operated by them or a partner airline, leaving within 48 hours of the departure time indicated on the passenger’s original ticket.
- If the airline cannot provide a confirmed reservation within this 48-hour period, it is required to provide, at the passenger’s choice, a refund or rebooking;
- Identify what costs must be refunded (unused portion of the ticket, which includes any unused add-on services paid for);
- Identify the method to be used for refunds (same as the original payment, e.g., a return on the person’s credit card);
- Require airlines to provide a refund within 30 days.
“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a gap in Canada’s passenger protection framework, with flights delayed or cancelled due to situations outside an airline’s control and where carriers could not rebook passengers within a reasonable time, like a global pandemic. These new regulations will correct this gap,” said The Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, in a release.
“These new requirements provide clarity around timing, cost coverage, method of payment, and deadlines to refund travellers in such situations.”
While many people welcome the new rules, others are critical of them, saying that they still offer airlines wiggle room to avoid refunding passengers while the airlines themselves think they are being unfairly punished for things they cannot directly control.