The rest of Canada's airline passenger rights go into effect Sunday

Canadian airline passengers dealing with significant delays may be able to get up to $1,000 in compensation.

The second and final set of rules spelled out in the Air Passenger Protection Regulations go into effect Sunday. Those regulations include compensation levels for delays and cancellations, as well as the requirements for seating children in proximity of a parent or guardian.

The first set of rules went into effect in July, and included guidelines for clear communication, tarmac delays, the transportation of musical instruments, compensation for denied boarding, and lost or damaged baggage.

As Canadians prepare for the holiday travel season, here are the new rules and what it means for passengers.

Compensation for delays

Under the new regulations, airlines will be on the hook for delays and cancellations – but only those that fall within a carrier’s control, and are not required for safety.

The amount of money passengers will be owed when flights are delayed depends on the length of the delay, as well as whether the airline is a small or large carrier.

For large carriers, such as Air Canada and WestJet, passengers will be owed:

  • $400 for a delay of between three to six hours

  • $700 for a delay of six to nine hours

  • $1,000 for a delay of more than nine hours

For small carriers, such as Porter Airlines, passengers will be owed:

  • $125 for a delay of between three to six hours

  • $250 for a delay of six to nine hours

  • $500 for a delay of more than nine hours

Compensation must be given in cash or an equivalent, but passengers can accept other forms of compensation – such as a voucher – if it is of a greater value than the cash they are owed and does not expire.

Rebooking and refund rules

The new regulations also require airlines to complete a passenger’s itinerary in the event of delays or cancellations.

For example, if the next available flight leaves nine hours after the originally scheduled flight, large airlines will have to rebook passengers on another carrier. If the airline isn’t able to rebook passengers within 48 hours of the original flight, it will be responsible for transporting a passenger to a nearby airport and booking them on a flight “using a reasonable route.”

Rebooking also must be under the same conditions as the original ticket. This means that if a passenger booked a business class ticket and is then rebooked with an economy ticket, the airline will have to refund the price difference.

In situations where the airline’s rebooking offer “does not meet the passenger’s travel needs, the passenger will be entitled to a refund.” In addition to the refund, flyers will also be entitled to the lump sum payment listed above for lengthy delays and cancellations.

Standards of treatment

The regulations require a certain standard of care for passengers in the event of a delay or cancellation. When a flight has been delayed by two hours, carriers must provide communication about the delay, as well as food and drink “in reasonable quantities, taking into account the length of the delay, time of day, and the location of the delay.”

If the delay is overnight, airlines must provide hotel or other reasonable accommodation for free, as well as transport to and from the accommodation.

Seating children with parents and guardians

Children under the age of 14 must be seated in close proximity to their parent or guardian at no extra cost to the passenger. What “close proximity” means depends on the age of the child.

  • Children under the age of five must be in a in a seat directly adjacent to their parent, guardian or tutor;

  • Children between the ages of five to 11 must be in the same row, separated by no more than one seat from their parent, guardian or tutor;

  • Children between the ages of 12 and 13 must be within two rows of their parent, guardian or tutor.

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