Tuesday, 16 October 2018

CTA releases What We Heard Report summarizing its air passenger protection consultations

The What We Heard Report from The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has been released today, which summarises what it was told by the Canadian travelling public during a three month long research period.

The CTA is rightly proud of the engagement travellers mdae in the consultation process as there were close to 31,000 visits to the website and, 4,923 online questionnaires were completed, 463 written comments were sent in through the website, 930 randomly-selected travellers filled out surveys in 11 different airports, 104 formal written submissions were sent to the CTA, 39 in-depth discussions were held with key stakeholders and experts, and 203 Canadians attended in-person consultation sessions in eight cities and a phone-in consultation session. 

Some of the key results are perhaps not really surprising, the issues seem the same no matter wheere in the world the research is done. The CTA found the common points made by the public include:

Clear, concise, accurate, and regular communication from airlines is important so that passengers know their rights, particularly during flight disruptions;
Compensation for flight delays and cancellations within an airline's control should be fair, reflect losses and inconvenience, and discourage overbooking;
During tarmac delays, airlines should provide necessities such as food, water, and working lavatories and should be required to let passengers leave the plane after 3 hours (the earliest this obligation could kick in by law); and
The regulations should be developed taking into account the accessibility-related needs of persons with disabilities. 

Consumer advocates generally agree that:

Communication of passenger rights must be done in simple, concise and clear language;
Compensation for delays and cancellations within the control of the airline should reflect how late the passenger arrives at their destination, with cash as the primary payment form; and
Non-compliance with the regulations must be addressed through timely, fair, and effective complaint and enforcement mechanisms.

Key themes raised by the air industry include:

There are many players and factors impacting flights, and the regulations should not penalize airlines for flight disruptions caused by others;
The regulations should not create duplicative regimes for flights from jurisdictions that already have passenger protection rules and should align with the Montreal Convention; and
The rules should not be punitive and should not hinder the ability of airlines to innovate and distinguish themselves in the marketplace.

Scott Streiner, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency assured responders that their views would be born in mind as the process moves further, "We thank the many Canadians who participated in the CTA's consultations on air passenger protection regulations for their valuable input. All the information and suggestions received are being carefully considered as we prepare the regulations. We're committed to ensuring that the new rules are clear, transparent, fair, and consistent – and to getting them done as soon as possible."

More details and the report is at the CTA website