Airline passenger rights get some teeth

The federal government is about to make it easier for you to win arguments with airlines’ customer service departments.

Driving the news: Transport Minister Omar Alghabra is expected to announce new rules today that will make it more difficult for airlines to avoid compensating passengers for flight delays and cancellations, per The Globe & Mail.

Catch up: The federal government introduced the current rules around passenger rights in 2019, but it hasn’t done much to stop carriers from foiling Canadians’ travel plans—that’s because it came with some loopholes big enough to fly a 747 through. 

  • One of the biggest is a “safety loophole” that lets airlines off the hook for delays and cancellations if they’re related to a “safety issue.”
  • And would it shock you to learn that’s led to airlines claiming pretty much every problem with your flight—including not hiring enough staff—is a safety issue? Well, that’s exactly what has happened.

Under the new rules, airlines will automatically have to compensate passengers (up to $1,000) for major delays or cancellations unless they can prove it was caused by a safety issue. 

  • They will also face fines of up to $250,000 for breaking the rules, up from the current maximum of $25,000.

Why it matters: Airline passenger rights advocates argue that it’s more profitable for airlines to ignore the current rules (and risk meagre fines) than to improve their service—larger fines and fewer loopholes could push them to get serious about getting people to their destination on time.