Dear ACTA Members,
Re: Summary of Guidance Material on PHASE II of the New Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR)
On Friday November 29, 2019, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) shared guidance material regarding the Phase II of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR). Phase I of the APPR came into effect on July 15, 2019. Key points of interest along with the CTA’s guidance materials were shared in the July 19 edition of ACTAVision. Phase I covered the obligations of airlines concerning communication, denied boarding, tarmac delay, lost or damaged baggage and the transportation of musical instruments. Phase II, which came into effect December 15, 2019, cover the remaining obligations of delayed or cancelled flights and the seating of children under the age of 14. Once again, ACTA has provided a summary of some of the key points of interest and possible questions travel agencies may receive from your customers.
▼ 1) Seating of Children Under the Age of 14: A Guide
- Airlines operating to, from, and within Canada must take to help seat children under the age of 14 close to their parent, guardian or tutor (accompanying passenger) at no additional charge.
- If an airline does not have a practice of assigning seats before check-in or if seat availability is limited, they must let the passenger know that they will try to assign the seats at check-in or at the boarding gate before take-off. If the airline is not able to assign seats close together in advance, they must ask for volunteers to move seats to achieve this at the gate or on the aircraft before take-off.
- Airlines must not charge a fee for making these seating arrangements. However, this does not mean they have to offer free seat selection to people travelling with children. If someone wishes to pre-select particular seats for themselves and a child, or change the seats assigned to them by an airlines, the airline may charge the applicable fee for each seat, as set out in their tariff.
- Seating distance:
- Seat children under the age of 5 directly beside their accompanying passenger. An aisle must not separate them unless the plane’s layout require it (for example, where a plane has banks of single seats only). In those cases, the two passengers should be seated in the same row, separated only by the aisle.
- Seat children aged 5 to 11 in the same row as their accompanying passenger and separated by no more than one seat (or the space of an aisle)
- Seat children aged 12 or 13 no more than two rows away from their accompanying passenger. This means that there should not be more than one row between them.
- If an airline has followed all the steps and is still unable to arrange seats within the required distance of each other, the expectation for the airline is to talk to the affected passengers about their options. The passengers may choose to sit farther apart, or decide not to take the flight at all. If the passengers choose not to take the flight, it is recommended that the airline provide other reasonable alternatives.
▼ 2) Flight Delays and Cancellations: A Guide
- The CTA’s guide explains the passenger’s rights and the airline’s obligations if there is a flight delay or cancellation to flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights. The airline operating the affected flight is responsible for meeting obligations to the passenger.
- When a flight is delayed or cancelled (including before the day of travel), an airline has minimum obligations to passengers that could include standards of treatment, rebooking or refunds, and up to $1,000 in compensation for inconvenience. Their obligations depend on whether the disruption is within the control of the airline, within the airline’s control but required for safety, or outside its control. The Types and Categories of Flight Disruption: A Guide was provided during Phase I however the highlights are:
- Disruptions within the carrier’s control can include:
- Commercial decisions:
- Overbooking flights;
- Consolidating or cancelling flights with low passenger demand; and
- Similar actions aimed at maximizing revenue.
- Day-to-day operations:
- Staff and flight crew scheduling and availability;
- Flight preparation activities like aircraft cleaning, baggage loading, and aircraft fueling; and
- Routine or scheduled maintenance, including any subsequent repairs or required activities. A disruption caused problem with the in-flight entertainment system would be considered within a carrier’s control.
- Commercial decisions:
- Disruptions within the carrier’s control but required for safety:
- Unexpected aircraft malfunctions. If a passenger had to be denied boarding due to the discovery of a broken seatbelt and there were no additional seats, this would be considered a situation within the carrier’s control, but required for safety.
- Disruptions outside the carrier’s control include safety and security, medical emergencies, natural phenomena and other situations such as instructions from air traffic control, airport operational issues and strikes or other labour disruptions at an essential service provider (airport or air navigation)
Obligations: Situations within the airline’s control
- Provide minimum standards of treatment – if the airline did not notify the passenger of a flight disruption at least 12 hours before the scheduled departure time, it must provide passengers with certain amenities, free of charge, when it cancels a flight or when a flight delay reaches two hours.
- Reasonable amount of food and drink, taking into consideration the length of the delay/time of day and the location of the airport;
- Access to means of communication;
- Overnight accommodation, when a passenger has to wait overnight for their flight.
- Alternate travel arrangements and refunds – airlines must always ensure that passengers whose flight has been disrupted complete their journey. When a flight is cancelled, or once a flight delay has reached three hours, the operating airline must offer to make alternate travel arrangements free of charge.
- There are different obligations depending on whether the carrier is large (transported at least two million passengers during each of the past two years) or small.
- If an airline (large or small) offers alternate travel arrangements but these do not meet a passenger’s needs, the passenger is entitled to a refund. If the passenger’s trip no longer serves its purpose because of the disruption, and the passenger is no longer at their point of origin, then the airline must book the passenger on a flight back to their point of origin and refund the entire ticket as if no part of the trip had been made.
- Compensation – if an airline informs the passenger 14 days or less before their original departure time, they will have to compensate the passengers for the inconvenience of the disruption. The amount of compensation depends on how late the passenger arrives at the final destination, compared to the arrival time on their original itinerary.
- Large airlines must pay:
- $400 if the passenger arrives three hours or more hours late, but less than six hours;
- $700 if the passenger arrives six or more hours late, but less than nine hours; and
- $1,000 if the passenger arrives nine or more hours late.
- Small airlines must pay:
- $125 if the passenger arrives three or more hours, but less than six hours;
- $250 if the passenger arrives six or more hours late, but less than nine hours; and
- $500 if the passenger arrives nine or more hours late.
- Passengers who choose to take a ticket refund instead of alternate travel arrangements must still be compensated for inconvenience. Large airlines must pay them $400 and small airlines, $125.
- Passengers have one year to make a compensation claim with the airline from the date the flight delay or cancellation happened. The airline has 30 days to respond by issuing a payment or saying why it believe compensation is not owed. The airline must offer compensation in a monetary form (cash, cheque, bank drafts and e-transfers). Other forms of compensation such as vouchers may be offered, however there are additional rules around these types of offers, including the other compensation must be greater than the monetary amount and have no expiry date.
- Communication – The airline operating the disrupted flight must give passengers key information, including the reason for the delay or cancellation available compensation, standards of treatment, and their rights and options for making a complaint – including to the CTA.
Obligations: Situations within the airline’s control, but required for safety
- If an airline delays or cancels a flight for reasons within its control, but required for safety, it does not have to compensate passengers. However, the airline must meet the other obligations described in “Situations within the airline’s control”, above.
Obligations: Situations outside the airline’s control
- If an airline delays or cancels a flight for reasons outside its control, it does not have to compensate affected passengers, and the minimum standards of treatment do not apply. However, the airline must follow the communication requirements described in Situations within the airline’s control, above and it must make alternate travel arrangements for passengers. Alternate travel arrangements must be offered free of charge if a flight is cancelled or once a flight delay has reached three hours. There are different obligations for making alternate travel arrangements for large and small airlines.
- There is no refund requirement for flight delays or cancellations outside the airline’s control.
Earlier flight disruption: a delay, cancellation or denial of boarding that is directly attributable to an earlier delay or cancellation that is due to situations outside the carrier’s control, is considered to also be due to situations outside the carrier’s control if that carrier took all reasonable measures to mitigate the impact of the earlier flight delay or cancellationFor full document, click here
During Phase I of the APPR implementation, the CTA created a variety of new banners and other materials in both official languages, available at https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1DbgngNg5vZnoE2p2xK3-2tr8ZaIOGtr5.
There are also YouTube videos that can be linked to your websites or shared with your clients: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqjvCRt2m-Q
Additional YouTube videos based on Phase II will be published on December 15th.
ACTA will continue to keep you updated as new information becomes available from the CTA, air carriers and GDSs.