Force airlines to automatically compensate travellers, passengers' advocate says

OTTAWA — An advocate for air passengers says Canada should make it so travellers are automatically entitled to compensation from airlines when their flights are disrupted, rather than having to make claims on their own.

Gabor Lukacs serves as president of Air Passenger Rights, a non-profit group that made recommendations to a parliamentary committee studying transportation issues last month.

The calls for reform came just before thousands of travellers found their flights cancelled or delayed as a winter storm swept across parts of Canada leading up to Christmas Day.

Hundreds of people found themselves stranded in Mexico after the destination airline Sunwing cancelled their flights due to poor weather.

The airline went on to axe flights scheduled out of Saskatchewan until early February because of what it called "extenuating circumstances."

The company has since apologized, but MPs have launched an emergency committee study on the widespread disruptions felt across the country's air and rail industries — and how they can be prevented.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra is set to appear before the House of Commons transport committee on Thursday.

He has suggested that his government is eyeing ways to strengthen the regulations currently in place to protect passengers, including putting the onus on companies to reimburse travellers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 10, 2023.

The Canadian Press