Canadian Transportation Agency unveils new refund rights for airline passengers

Airline passengers will have additional rights when it comes to refunds starting this fall.

Beginning early September, airlines will either have to refund passengers or rebook them, at the traveller’s choice, if a flight is cancelled or delayed by three hours or more.

This is one of the new regulations the Canadian Transportation Agency announced to improve its passenger rights charter.

Thousands of Canadians have faced a number of problems as airlines, security and customs agencies struggle to handle staffing shortages as travel increases after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency said the new regulations will come into effect on Sept. 8.

In the past, the passenger rights regime only required refunds for flight disruptions that were within the airline’s control, which did not include situations such as weather, war or unscheduled mechanical issues.

The rules will require airlines to offer a rebooking or refund within 30 days if they cannot provide a new reservation within 48 hours of a flight cancellation or three-hour-plus delay.

Any unused part of a ticket must be covered, including “any unused add-on service paid for,” the agency said.

A refund has to be the same as the original payment method. That means a credit card purchase could not be reimbursed with a travel voucher, as most Canadian airlines did for nearly a year starting in March 2020 with hundreds of thousands of cancellations due to the pandemic.