The Airline Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) were introduced in December 2019, just before the pandemic.
For the past two years, the RPPA has been put to the test. However, there are several shortcomings with this charter in regards to situations that are out of the airline’s control.
For example, the labour shortage is a carrier-driven situation. However, if the underlying cause is a COVID-19 outbreak among the crew, would the lack of personnel then be considered a circumstance out of control?
Review of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations
The Air Passenger Protection Regulations are a passenger bill of rights that dictate the minimum obligations that airlines must fulfill to the travelling public.
All airlines operating flights to and from Canada must comply.
Selecting seats for children
Under the Airline Passenger Protection Regulations, carriers must assign seats near a parent (or guardian) at no additional charge. This rule applies to youth under the age of 14. After that, the specific proximity is determined by the age of the child.
- Under 5 years old: adjacent to a parent
- Between 5 and 11 years old: in the same row and cannot be separated by more than one seat with the parent
- Between 11 and 13 years old: cannot be separated more than one row with the parent
To ensure you have side-by-side benches with your children between the ages of 5 and 13, you can use the travel credits with National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard® and the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® for seat selection.
With the Revenge Travel phenomenon, it’s better to be in full control when you can!
Flight delay and cancellation
The Airline Passenger Protection Regulations state that you can be compensated and that you must be treated with a minimum of standards when your flight is delayed or cancelled.
The PAPR guidelines will be amended to benefit consumers in this area. During the current pandemic period, schedule changes, as well as delayed and cancelled flights, have become commonplace.
Since the beginning of the RPPA, airlines are required to pay you monetary compensation if they were responsible for the late arrival at your destination.
The situations attributable to the airline are:
- commercial overbooking
- mandatory routine maintenance of the aircraft
- mechanical failures found during routine maintenance
- delay or cancellation of a flight due to lack of crew
- communication of flight change or cancellation within 14 days of departure
In these situations, the carrier’s responsibilities are:
- offer meals or meal coupons
- provide accommodation and return transportation if the delay is overnight
- offer an alternative route (including another airline) to the destination if the delay is more than 9 hours
- offer the possibility of a refund
Compensation varies according to the time incurred if the company is responsible:
|Delay||Large companies||Small companies|
|between 3 and 6 hours||$400||$125|
|between 6 and 9 hours||$700||$250|
|9 hours and more||$1,000||$500|
Changes to the Air Passengers Protection Regulations (September 2022)
As of September 8, 2022, passengers are also protected against situations categorized as “out of control” by the carrier, such as weather delays, strikes, COVID-19, etc.
The RPPA rules regarding delays due to company circumstances remain unchanged.
The 48-hour window
In the event of a delay of more than 3 hours, the Air Passenger Protection Regulations require the carrier to rebook you on another confirmed flight according to your preferences. The latter (their aircraft or another airline) must be within 48 hours of the departure time of your initial flight.
If the airline is unable to rebook you on another flight within the 48-hour window, you will have the option of receiving a refund or booking a later flight.
However, there will be no compensation if the cause of the delay is beyond their control.
Finally, if you request a refund, it must be given to you within 30 days.
The method of reimbursement
Effective September 8, 2022, if the carrier cannot issue you a new confirmed ticket within 48 hours of your original departure, you may request a refund.
A refund of the unused portion of the ticket must be made in the original form of payment for flight delays and cancellations for reasons beyond the airline’s control. The carrier may also issue a travel credit if and only if it does not have an expiration date.
Changes to the Air Passengers Protection Regulations (September 2023)
In a press release, the government has proposed certain changes to the APPR that could be in effect as of September 30, 2023.
Basically, these changes are intended to close the various loopholes with the current rules so that passengers can be compensated more easily. Indeed, when the RPPA was introduced in 2019, airlines had to compensate their customers when a delay or cancellation occurred within their control such as a lack of crew for example.
However, events beyond their control such as weather or security-related issues were not eligible for compensation. Therefore, these reasons were often cited as the cause of delays.
With the changes that came into effect in September 2022, the government has established measures that require airlines to rebook the passenger on another flight within a 48-hour window, as explained earlier in this article.
For 2023, the federal government aims to place the burden of proof on the airline to avoid the need for customers to demonstrate that the reason for the delay was actually within their control. This is indeed a problem right now, as we often see people getting different explanations about their travel blunders when they were all on the same flight!
The Air Passenger Protection Regulations assure that the carrier must book you on another flight within 48 hours. However, if your bags get lost in the airport rush, good insurance will reimburse you to replace your belongings. So, you can buy your bathing suits and start your vacation at your all-inclusive resort.
The changes to the Air Passenger Protection Regulations bode well for Canadian travellers even though the APPR falls far short of the European Union’s charter.
Will these changes be meaningful? Only time will tell.