Know your rights before you travel.
What you need to know before booking your next trip
Air travel hasn’t had the smoothest return to normal—for airlines, airport or travellers—with flight cancellations, staffing shortages, long lineups, lost luggage and passengers stuck on the tarmac. CAA Manitoba has long been an advocate for your rights as a traveller and we have your back. So before you head out on your next trip, here’s what you should know.
Know your rights
Canada’s national Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) came into effect in 2019. “These regulations lay out the ground rules for airlines to provide you with a basic standard of care,” says Ian Jack, CAA’s Vice-President of Public Affairs. The rules apply to any flight to, from or within Canada.
Among your rights as an air traveller: Being promptly informed and updated about any delays, compensation for being bumped from an overbooked flight, and compensation up to $2,300 for lost or damaged luggage.
Another notable change is that, in the past, airlines would offer you a credit for cancelled flights—now, airlines must rebook, offer a credit or a full refund, at your discretion.
As of Sept. 8, 2022, a significant addition has also been made to passenger rights for delayed flights. The change “requires 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,” according to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA). In other words, regardless of the reason for the delay, the airline is required to refund or rebook you at no additional cost.
If you feel your rights have been infringed upon, the first point of contact will always be the airline. “The government can’t fly you anywhere or find your bags for you,” Jack points out. But if you’re not satisfied with the airline’s response, the next step would be to file a complaint with the CTA.
“The regulations are a good start, but there’s still room for improvement,” Jack says. For starters, the CTA should require airlines to publish data about their on-time performance, the number of bags they lose and other information related to delays and cancellations. “That way, we can judge their performance and incentivize carriers to improve their service, so they don’t end up on ‘worst of ’ lists.”
Another area of improvement is an exemption to providing compensation for mechanical problems with aircraft. “It’s a loophole big enough to fly an airplane through—an incentive to classify anything as a ‘mechanical’ issue,” Jack says.
Brush up on baggage basics. Check your airline’s rules on maximum dimensions for carry-on bags and checked baggage limits. And remember that carry-on liquids must still be in containers 100 mL or less.
Look into peak travel times for your departing airport and give yourself plenty of time to check in. “The days of showing up 30 minutes before the gates close are behind us now,” Jack cautions. To learn more about passenger rights and smart flying tips, visit caamanitoba.com/travelplanning.