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Mixed reaction from travel agents as passenger bill of rights stalls

Last Updated Dec 12, 2017 at 5:20 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Canada won’t have a clear path to an airline passenger bill of rights in time for the holiday Christmas season and the bill’s stall in the Senate is getting mixed reaction from travel experts.

The Senate criticizes the Liberals for mashing the bill, which would set the framework for the Canadian Transportation Agency to create the rights,  and several other pieces of transportation legislation into one massive omnibus bill, creating the stall.

Travel agent Claire Newell says she’s not surprised by the delay, but she’s still disappointed it won’t happen before Christmas.

“Winter holidays, spring break, all of these are times when you’ve got the biggest numbers travelling but it’s also the time when there’s often the most problems,” she says. “It’s a time where it would be so beneficial to have it in place. So I really hope that its at least in place by spring break.”

But others, such as aviation expert Howard Slutsken, wonder why Canada even needs such a bill when big issues are not the norm.

He says with social media and customer support, passengers can have far more impact on airlines than they think and get compensation quicker.

“I can’t remember the last time before Air Transat that we had any kind of on-ramp delay of that magnitude. Yeah, there’s always weather delays, I mean, gosh, we’re in Canada.”

The legislation would set rules and fines for airlines in situations where a passenger has been bumped from an overbooked flight, suffered lost or damaged luggage or endured an overly long wait on the tarmac — but only when the carrier is responsible.

The bill would also requiring voice and video recorders in locomotives.

In any event, travellers would have to wait until 2018 for a passenger rights bill to be fully in place, because the Canadian Transportation Agency would be in charge of crafting the rules.