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Understanding your Rights with Airlines and Flights

Whether you’re flying for fun, business, or personal reasons, it’s important to remember that you have rights as a passenger. However, with so many different airlines and so many different situations that could potentially arise in the air or on the ground, it can sometimes be difficult to know exactly what those rights are or to spot when your rights are not being respected.

The Canadian government has proposed a passenger bill of rights which is scheduled to be completed at some point in 2018. This bill would set rules that all airlines must follow. However, even without this bill, passengers still have rights. However, many of these rights will vary depending on the particular airline that you are flying with.

Here are just a few air travel rights that you’ll likely want to keep in mind before you fly.

Airlines are Required to Provide Compensation for Lost Luggage

Losing your luggage is never fun and it can be very stressful and inconvenient. However, if your bags are lost, delayed, or damaged, airlines are required to compensate you. However, the amount that you will be compensated will depend on several factors, including whether or not you were on an international or domestic flight.

If your luggage is found later on, the airline has an obligation to hand deliver it to you. If your luggage is lost, the airline is required to pay you the entire value of what was in your bags. The amount you will be compensated for delayed luggage will depend on the airline.

Airlines are Required to Inform You of Your Rights and Responsibilities

All airlines are required to outline the rights of passengers flying with them. This is called an airline’s “tariff” and it is a contract between the airline and its passengers. This document is required to be made public by the airline and it must be accessible to passengers. Most airlines post this document on their website.

An airline’s tariff includes the terms and conditions of flying with the airline as well as how the airline will deal with issues such as delays, cancellations, denied boarding, re-routing, lost baggage, and other situations. This document is important because it will differ between airlines and you could end up in a situation where you’ll need to be certain of your rights. Therefore, it is recommended that you read and understand an airline’s tariff before you fly.

There is No Law for How Long Airlines Can Delay a Flight

There is no Canadian law that dictates how long an airline can delay a flight or how long it can delay a flight before it needs to offer passengers compensation, such as a meal voucher. However, airlines will typically outline their policies in their tariff, so read this document before flying. Each airline will have different policies and that you may be entitled to different things, depending on the airline and the reason for the delay.

Airlines Are Allowed to Overbook Flights

Overbooking is the practice of selling more tickets than available seats on a flight. Airlines often do this because they know that a certain percentage of people will not show up for the flight. However, how the airline responds to overbooking issues will depend on the individual airline.

Most airlines will first ask if there are any volunteers to take another flight, and they will often provide some type of compensation to those who agree to be placed on the next available flight.

If the airline does not get enough volunteers, most airlines will select people to bump to the next available flight and often provide compensation. As with delayed flights, the particular terms will vary between different airlines, so it’s important to read the airline’s tariff.

If Your Rights Are Not Being Respected

If you believe that your rights are not being respected, you may complain to the Canadian Transportation Agency. This Agency will then review your situation and determine the next steps. You may be offered an informal dispute resolution, such as facilitation and mediation services, or you may be told to file a court-like complaint.

The resolution process will be determined by the issue that you are complaining about. For instance, situations relating to unreasonable or discriminatory practices by an airline will likely result in an official complaint, while lost baggage, cancelled flights, and other similar situations will probably be resolved through informal means.