New Air Passenger Rights Take Effect Today

Transport Minister Marc Garneau leaves Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday

"As Canada's Minister of Transport, I am pleased to see the first phase of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations are now in effect".

The second phase will take effect on December 15, in time for travel during the winter holiday season.

If a plane is stuck on the tarmac for an excessive delay, airlines must provide passengers with the basic necessities, such as heat or air conditioning, refreshments and access to working washrooms.

"The proposed regulations will in most cases require travellers to file a claim with an airline to receive compensation", said Jeff Walker, chief strategy officer at CAA National, "We encourage passengers to file a claim to ensure they receive what the new regime says they are owed".

Monday marked the coming into force of the first phase of the Liberal government's new air passenger protection regulations, which Transport Minister Marc Garneau marked with a press conference at the Montreal area's major global passenger airport.

Air passenger advocates say compensation won't be given if the issue is mechanical or weather-related and that the bill doesn't go far enough to protect passengers. Children five to 11 years old can be separated by no more than one seat in the same row, while 12- and 13-year-olds can't be separated from guardians by more than one row. The new regulations also take into account the realities of small and northern air carriers, as well as ultra-low cost carriers, with requirements adjusted accordingly. Air carriers will be required to follow these regulations and could face fines for non-compliance.

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Garneau said terms are clearly defined, but reiterated that delays or cancellations following a pre-flight check are not considered something which warrants compensation.

Airlines will have to compensate anyone who is denied boarding for situations within an airline's control, such as over-booking.

Passenger Mary Alice Ernst, en route to Chicago from Montreal with her daughter Monday, said the traveller bill of rights was a breath of fresh air.

Along with this, airlines will be required to rebook or refund passengers when flights are delayed.

"Used to be, back in the day, they were really eager to please you, and provide those extra incidentals - free hotel, things like that".

Set clear conditions regarding the transportation of musical instruments as checked or carry-on baggage.

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