MONTREAL -- The Canadian Transportation Agency has acted to protect airline passengers by ordering Air Canada and Porter Airlines to provide reasonable compensation for disrupting their flight plans.
The regulator said Air Canada, the country's largest carrier, must pay passengers between $200 and $800 cash, or three times that in travel vouchers, if they are involuntarily bumped because of oversold flights.
In a separate decision also issued Thursday, the agency ordered Porter to refund fares paid for cancelled domestic flights and provide compensation for reasonable expenses when flights are delayed. It called the Toronto-based airline's current policies unclear and said Porter should make "reasonable" efforts to inform passengers of schedule changes and the reasons for them.
"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 agency chairman Geoff Hare.
"These decisions help ensure that consumers are protected when experiencing schedule changes while travelling with Air Canada and Porter."
In its rulings, the transportation agency sided with passenger-rights activist Gábor Lukács, who had filed complaints against both airlines.
"They really give passengers far stronger tools to enforce their rights," he said in an interview from Halifax.
The agency endorsed Lukács' compensation proposal for Air Canada that would vary by length of delay regardless of the airfare. Delays of less than two hours would prompt the minimum compensation.
Bumped passengers who are delayed two to six hours would get $400 and the maximum would be given for longer delays.
Passengers can opt to accept vouchers, but the airline must fully inform passengers about the rules. Passengers also have a month to exchange the vouchers for cash.
It said Lukács' compensation suggestion "strikes a balance between the consumers' interests and Air Canada's commercial obligations."
In July, the agency ruled Air Canada's 12-year-old bumping payout rate of $100 cash or a $200 travel voucher is outdated and doesn't reflect the current price of airline tickets, accommodation and other incidental expenses. It gave the carrier a month to choose between Lukács' proposal or a policy already in place in the United States.
-- The Canadian Press