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The compensation applies solely to involuntary denied boarding, and does not relate to situations where a passenger volunteers to be denied boarding for whatever compensation Air Canada wishes to offer, the regulator said.
Federal regulators have ordered Air Canada to increase the level of compensation it offers passengers denied boarding from domestic flights.
The new rules imposed by the Canadian Transportation Agency require the country’s largest carrier to compensate bumped passengers $200, $400, and $800 in cash for delays less than two hours, between two and six hours, and longer than six hours, respectively.
Peter Fitzpatrick, Air Canada spokesman, said the airline would comply with the order.
The compensation applies only to those who are involuntarily denied boarding on their schedule flight, not to situations where a passenger volunteers to be bumped for whatever compensation Air Canada wishes to offer, the regulator said.
If the carrier chooses, however, to compensate passengers with a travel voucher, it must do so on a 3-to-1 basis, meaning for every $1 owed in compensation, it must offer $3 in vouchers. Passengers can also demand cash under the ruling.
The new rules will come into effect Sept. 18 and only impact flights where passengers are denied boarding for something within the carrier’s control, the agency said. It does not apply to flights where boarding is denied for conditions outside of its control, including those relating to safety or weather, for example.
In a separate decision, the agency found that it was unreasonable for Porter Airlines to refuse to refund the fare paid by passengers because of its cancellation of a flight.
Porter should make reasonable efforts to provide passengers with accurate information on schedule changes and the reasons for them, the agency said.
The CTA gave the airline until Sept. 30 to revise its tariff provisions to align with the decision.
“Passengers have a fundamental right to be informed about schedule changes that affect their itinerary and ability to travel and to be compensated or refunded in a reasonable fashion,” said Geoff Hare, CTA chief executive, announcing the decision.
“These decisions help ensure that consumers are protected when experiencing schedule changes while travelling with Air Canada and Porter.”
The Air Canada decision is the latest victory for self-styled air passenger rights activist, Gabor Lukács. The CTA’s latest ruling follows a decision in May 2013 stemming from a complaint by Mr. Lukács that Air Canada’s denied boarding compensation of $100 was unreasonably low.
In his original complaint, Mr. Lukács argued changes in compensation were required to help counter Air Canada’s practice of overselling its planes and downgauging other flights when they are not full.
Air Canada was given 30 days to answer why the CTA should not implement the compensation scheme used in the U.S. or one proposed by Mr. Lukács.
“Air Canada failed to do so, the Agency determined that the carrier has to provide boarding compensation to affected passengers,” the CTA said. “The agency has also concluded that the regime proposed by the complainant is the preferable option to apply as it strikes a reasonable balance between the consumers’ interest and Air Canada’s commercial obligations.”
Source: Financial Post, August 29, 2013