Passengers with disabilities may have to pay extra on international flights under proposed regulations

March 11, 2019

Halifax, NS (March 11, 2019) – Air Passenger Rights (APR), Canada’s nonprofit advocacy group for air traveller rights, is concerned about the government’s proposed accessible transportation regulations perpetuating inequality. The proposed rules will not apply to Swoop and Flair or other smaller airlines, and passengers with disabilities may have to pay extra fees on all international flights.

Today, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) and Minister Qualtrough will announce draft regulations to govern the rights of passengers with disabilities. The new rules codify a number of accessibility rights that have existed for about a decade as regulatory decisions of the CTA, but leave air passengers with disabilities without meaningful protection in many cases.

The new rules will require large air carriers operating within Canada to provide passengers with disabilities, without imposing an additional charge, with:

  • assistance;
  • a seat, adjacent to the passenger, for a support person;
  • the right to be accompanied by a certified service dog if necessary; and
  • an additional seat if it is needed due to the passenger’s disability.

On international flights, however, airlines will be able to charge for these services.

According to Dr. Gábor Lukács, the founder and coordinator of Air Passenger Rights, the draft regulations proposed by the government today fail to adequately protect passengers with disabilities. “These regulations throw the most vulnerable passengers under the aircraft,” said Dr. Lukács. “A guide dog is the eyes of a visually impaired passenger. Able-bodied passengers do not have to pay extra for bringing their eyes on board. Asking passengers with disabilities to pay extra fees is not right.”

The proposed regulations will not apply to airlines that transport less than one million passengers per year, such as Swoop and Flair. Passengers with disabilities travelling on these airlines will have no protection at all.

The new rules deepen the concerns of Air Passenger Rights that the government is giving Swoop and Flair special treatment at the expense of the travelling public. “Canada must comply with its obligations under the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Considerations about profit should not trump human rights,” said Dr. Lukács.

Air Passenger Rights is calling on the government to adopt a single, uniform, and fair set of rules that apply to all flights within, to, and from Canada to protect the rights of passengers with disabilities.


About Air Passenger Rights

Air Passenger Rights is Canada's independent, nonprofit network of volunteers working to make the travelling public aware of its rights and capable of enforcing them. The organization's mission is to turn helpless passengers into empowered travelers through education, advocacy, investigation, and litigation.

For further information, please contact:
Dr. Gábor Lukács
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Twitter: @AirPassRightsCA
Facebook: http://facebook.com/AirPassengerRights