Frustrated and tired fliers got some relief this week in the form of two new pieces of legislation in the European Union and in Canada that address delayed and overbooked flights.
A European Union Court of Justice decision that came down on Thursday is extending existing EU flight delay compensation requirements to include connecting flights on the same reservation—that means flights on non-EU airlines among non-EU countries will also be covered.
Under the existing European Union consumer protection regulation, known as “Regulation EC No 261/2004,” if a passenger is denied boarding, or if his or her flight is canceled or delayed, that person is entitled to up to up to $675 compensation.
Thursday’s judgment extends that compensation to any leg of the flight that was made on the same reservation as an EU carrier of which the first leg originated from an airport located in the EU. In the case that came before the court, passengers were seeking retributions from Czech air carrier České Aerolinie for an eight-hour delay on a connecting, code-share flight on Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok. The court ruled that since the flight originated in Prague (with a layover in Abu Dhabi before the connecting flight on Etihad to Bangkok), and since the operating carrier was České Aerolinie, the passengers were entitled to seek compensation from České Aerolinie under EU regulations, thus setting a precedent.
Passengers can claim 250 euros (or US$280) for flights up to 930 miles in distance; 400 euros (US$450) for flights between 930 and 2,175 miles; and 600 euros (US$675) for flights that are longer than 2,175 miles. For delayed flights, the delay must be two or more hours for flights up to 930 miles, three hours or more for flights between 930 and 2,175 miles, and at least four hours for flights longer than 2,175 miles.
Greater passenger rights in Canada, too
Right on the heels of the EU decision came new regulations in Canada that also favor air passengers.
The Canadian Transportation Agency has passed new Air Passenger Protection Regulations, the first phase of which went into effect on July 15, 2019. For flights to, from, and within Canada, including connecting flights, airlines are now required to provide compensation to passengers who are denied boarding, to those who experience tarmac delays, and for lost or delayed baggage.
The second phase will address the seating of children and will go into effect on December 15, 2019, when airlines will have to, at no extra cost, help seat children under the age of 14 near their parent, guardian, or supervisor.
Flight disruptions that are required for safety reasons will not require compensation and situations outside an airline’s control such as natural disasters and security issues will only require the airline to ensure that the passenger’s itinerary is fulfilled.
For flights delays, including being involuntary denied boarding (aka being bumped from a flight), passengers will be compensated up to CAD$900 (US$690) when the delay is up to six hours; up to CAD$1,800 (US$1,380) for delays of between six and nine hours; and up to CAD$2,400 (US$1,840) for delays of nine hours or more.
For lost or damaged luggage, carriers will be on the line for up to CAD$2,100 (US$1,610); previously passengers were only entitled to compensation for lost or damaged luggage on international flights. But now the rule applies to domestic flight as well.