#MarcGarneau, #CanadianTransportationAgency, #GaborLukacs, #TransportationModernizationAct, #ScottStreiner, #AirCanada
The federal government had introduced a legislation Tuesday for a passenger bill of rights, to be effective by 2018, which would create a national standard for the treatment of airline passengers in Canada, media reports said.
The mandate of this legislation implied that any passenger, if not willing, cannot be forced out of the plane just because the flight was overbooked, CBCNews release said.
"When you buy a ticket, you expect and deserve to have that contract fulfilled," said Marc Roy, spokesperson for Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau, who introduced the bill.
“In a vast nation like Canada, Canadians rely on economically viable modes of transportation to travel and move commodities within the country, across the border, and to our ports for shipment overseas. The time has come to modernize our policies and practices to provide a safer, more competitive and respectful system that can respond to modern conditions and to Canadians’ expectations.”
“When Canadians purchase an airline ticket, they expect the airline to provide the service that they paid for and to be treated with respect. When things don’t go the way they are planned, travellers deserve clear, transparent, fair and consistent compensation,” said Marc Garneau, Federal Minister of Transport.
But although this move by the transport authorities promises that passengers would no longer fear being bumped out of the overbooked plane, some critics reportedly said that Federal government’s promise was too good to be believed.
Roy had stated that airlines will still be allowed to overbook flights and in case there are more passengers than seats, only willing passengers, with appropriate compensation would be bumped from the plane.
Canadian Transportation Agency would work out the minimum compensation requirements.
But in case no passengers are ready to leave, then the amount should be negotiated to higher amounts till volunteers agree to leave the plane.
Brett Doyle, whose 10-year-old-son Cole was bumped from an Air Canada flight during their March Break vacation to Costa Rica, expressed the concern on how the legislation can guarantee that people, even after getting good price, may give up their seats on an oversold flight.
"What happens if you get in a situation where there's 20 seats on a plane, you sell 24, but all 24 people want to fly?" he says. "When no one wants to voluntarily give up their seat, I just don't understand how they're going to work around that."
Passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs is even more skeptical of the coming rules. Just because the government creates regulations for airlines, he says, it doesn't guarantee that it will have the means to enforce them.
"We may have them written down, perhaps more nicely, more concisely, more transparently," said Lukacs in an interview with CBC News.
But, he adds, "What is going to change in terms of enforcement? What is going to change in terms of consequences for an airline that chooses to ignore the rights of passengers?"
Doyle was of a strong opinion that overbooking the flights should be stopped altogether.
"The Canadian Transportation Agency noted with interest the introduction in the House of Commons today of the Transportation Modernization Act. The proposed changes to the Canada Transportation Act would give the Agency additional tools to help protect air travellers and foster balance and efficiency in the national freight rail system. We will provide Parliamentarians with any information and analysis that would be helpful as they consider the legislation. In the meantime, the Agency is making preparations to ensure the timely, fair, and effective implementation of updated legislation. This includes plans to consult stakeholders, experts and Canadians in general on the new regulations," Scott Streiner, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency, said.
Over booking in planes generates profit and although the practice is perfectly legal, yet Doyle says it just doesn't make good business sense.
But Roy said that overbooking of flights in beneficial in the sense that passengers get a chance to get on the flight last minute.
"You have to be prudent because overbooking allows airlines to be more efficient," he said.
Roy added that airlines’ tendency to overbook would be minimized in the coming legislation to minimize the cost to convince passengers to give up their seats.
When asked how the government can guarantee that airlines will follow the new rules, Roy replied they won't have a choice. "It will be the law of the land. It will not be a suggested agreement."
Air Canada expressed, in a written statement, its desire to participate in consultations to formulate regulations for the new passenger bill of rights.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)