Passenger advocate calls new Canadian travel protections toothless

A new set of protections are now in effect for Canadian air passengers, but one expert says he expects they won’t actually do much for the average traveller.

The new Air Passenger Protection Regulations set out minimum standards for all carriers to follow and requirements to help the public understand their rights.

Passenger advocate Gabor Lukacs, however, told 680 CJOB that while the government is putting out big numbers for compensation for delays and cancellations, they won’t apply in many cases.

READ MORE: Changes to air passengers’ rights are now in effect. Here’s what you should know

“When you look at the fine print, it turns out you’re eligible for [compensation] in only very special cases,” said Lukacs.

“All the common causes for flight delays and cancellations, such as weather and maintenance issues when the aircraft breaks down, are excluded.”

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The new rules are actually the second phase of changes. The first phase was rolled out in mid-July, and the recent additions regulate compensation for delays and cancellations, as well as outlining where children can be seated on planes.

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Lukacs, founder of the Air Passenger Rights advocacy group, called the new rules ‘feel good’ legislation at best, and said — in his interpretation — they allow passengers the right to apply for compensation, without any kind of assurance they’ll actually receive it.

“You can at least send a letter to the airline and ask for compensation,” he said. “It still may be worth your while to seek it, just to test how things are working, whether it’s actually working.

“I would expect most Canadian passengers will find it profoundly disappointing, because the airlines will religiously follow the letter of the law, and the problem this time will be primarily with a law that was drafted in a way that doesn’t provide any real protection.”

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