FAQs: Air passenger protection consultations

Q1. Why is the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) drafting these regulations?

New provisions of the Canada Transportation Act, which were added by the recently-passed Transportation Modernization Act, mandate the CTA to develop regulations setting out airlines' obligations with respect to flight delays and cancellations, denied boarding (bumping), tarmac delays, damaged or lost baggage, seating of children with parents or guardians, the transportation of musical instruments, and communication with passengers.

For most of these categories, the law states that the regulations should prescribe minimum standards of treatment. For several (flight delays or cancellations within the airline's control, denied boarding within the airline's control, and lost or damaged baggage), the law also provides for minimum levels of compensation.

The CTA has identified four principles that will guide development of the new air passenger protection regime: clarity, transparency, fairness, and consistency.

Q2. How can I participate?

There are three ways you can participate:

The in-person public consultations sessions will be open to the public. Anyone is welcome to attend and no registration is required to observe the proceedings.

Pre-registration is required for those wishing to make an oral submission.

Q3. How long will it take for the new regulations to be implemented?

The consultation process will continue until August 28, 2018. Once it concludes, all the input received will be considered and the new regulations will be drafted. The regulations will require approval from both the CTA and the Governor in Council to come into force. Our goal is to have updated regulations brought into force by the end 2018 or early 2019.

Q4. What are the topics the CTA will be focusing on?

The CTA has issued a discussion paper that highlights the topics we will be focusing on. These include the obligation for airlines to communicate clearly with passengers; delayed or cancelled flights; denied boarding (bumping); tarmac delays; seating with children; damaged and lost baggage; transport of musical instruments; transportation of unaccompanied minors; the scope of the regulations; the responsibilities of different airlines when more than one provides flights as part of a traveller's itinerary; tariff availability and filing; air services price advertisement; and enforcement.

Q5. Are there any similar regulations in other countries?

Other jurisdictions have already implemented similar legislative requirements. The European Union has had a compensation regime in place since 2004 and the United States has from 2009 and onward, imposed further regulations to strengthen air passenger rights.

Q6. Why not simply harmonize our rules with the United States or the EU?

While the CTA is aware of the regulations currently in place in other jurisdictions, we are consulting with the travelling public, consumer rights associations, airline industry, and other interested individuals in order to draft regulations that best meet the needs of Canadians. Regulatory alignment will be one consideration in drafting the new rules.

Q7. What is the current regime for air passenger protection?

The Canada Transportation Act requires that each airline set out its terms and conditions of carriage in a legal document called a tariff. Based on the law, airlines are free to set their own tariff provisions so long as they meet certain requirements. For example, the Air Transportation Regulations stipulate that airlines must clearly state their fares, ticket fees, and conditions of carriage. 

Upon receiving a complaint or for international services, also by its own initiative, the CTA ensures that airlines' conditions of carriage for flights to, from and within Canada are just, reasonable and non-discriminatory and that airlines apply the terms and conditions of carriage in their tariff.

If passengers feel that an airline has not applied its tariff, or if they wish to contest the conditions contained in its tariff because they feel that they are unclear, unreasonable or discriminatory, they can file a complaint. The CTA will try to resolve the matter quickly and informally through facilitation or mediation. If facilitation and mediation fail, the complaint may then go through adjudication, a court-like process where a decision will be rendered based on evidence submitted.

Q8. What happens to passengers in the meantime?

Until the new regulations are in place, the current system continues to apply, and the CTA is still here to help them resolve their air travel complaints.

Q.9 Will there be communication support available at the in-person consultation sessions?

Participants requiring communications support, such as assistive listening devices and sign language interpretation, are requested to confirm their specific requirements with the CTA at least 10 calendar days before the consultations begins so that the necessary arrangements can be made.

Q.10 Where can I get more information?

For more information, consult the CTA's discussion paper on consumer protection for air travellers.