After a man was dragged off of an overbooked United Airlines flight last month, the need for increased passenger protection has become more urgent than ever.
Now, the Canadian federal government has responded with a new and improved passenger bill of rights as part of amendments to the Canada Transportation Act.
For a bit of background on the viral video, a middle-aged man was literally dragged from his seat and seriously injured after the United Airlines had overbooked a flight.
Though the incident occurred in Chicago, it caused an international uproar.
As sad as it is that this rule is even necessary, airlines in Canada will not be able to bump passengers from a flight against their will in accordance with the new passenger bill of rights.
“When Canadians purchase an airline ticket, they expect the airline to provide the service that they paid for and to be treated with respect,” said Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau. “When things don’t go the way they are planned, travellers deserve clear, transparent, fair, and consistent compensation.”
According to The Canadian Press, the bill implements minimum levels of compensation set by the Canadian Transportation Agency for people who voluntarily agree to be bumped from a flight. If airlines can’t get a volunteer, they will have to decide if they want to persuade a passenger to get off using increased compensation.
Under the new bill, the government will be able to force individual airlines to create standards of treatment and compensation for passengers.
Circumstances where new airline standards might apply to passengers include for voluntarily giving up a seat, denied boarding if the flight is overbooked, delays and cancellations, lost or damaged luggage, delays while sitting on the tarmac, and other non-weather related issues.
The passenger rights go so far as to include that parents will not be forced to pay a fee in order to sit next to their children, and even musical instruments will get better treatment in their transportation by air.
Clear information will also be provided to passengers in plain language about carriers’ obligations, and how to seek compensation and file complaints.
The amendments ultimately allow more government control over what’s happening on airlines, with passenger rights and safety in mind.
This kind of a passenger rights bill doesn’t currently exist in Canada, and if the legislation is passed, it’ll be good to know that no one will be dragged off of an airline flying within, to, or out of Canada anytime soon.