Canada unveils air passenger bill of rights

Air Canada is getting into the business of delivering cargo by drone (AFP Photo/JOEL SAGET)

Ottawa (AFP) - Airline passengers in Canada will soon be eligible for significant compensation for delayed flights or lost baggage under regulations announced Friday by Transportation Minister Marc Garneau.

The measures follow a rising number of complaints about being stuck on the tarmac for hours, musical instruments being broken in transit and lost baggage.

"Our goal was to provide a world-leading approach to air passenger rights that would be predictable and fair for passengers, while ensuring our air carriers remain strong and competitive," Garneau said.

"These new regulations achieve that balance and will give air travelers the rights and treatment they pay for and deserve."

Starting July 15, airlines will be required to disembark passengers after three hours on the tarmac if there is no prospect of taking off soon.

They would also need to compensate passengers bumped from overbooked flights up to Can$2,400 (US$1,800) and up to Can$2,100 for lost luggage.

As of December 15, additional measures will require airlines to pay passengers up to Can$1,000 for flight delays and cancellations, provide food, drink and accommodations, and rebook them on new flights -- using competing airlines if necessary.

They would also have to seat children near a parent at no extra charge and develop new standards for transporting musical instruments.

The latter was in response to travelling musicians complaining on social media about broken guitars and other instruments during flights.

The rules apply to flights to, from and within Canada.

According to Canada's government statistics agency, there are an average of 5.5 million take-offs and landings at Canada's 91 airports each year.

Due to its vast geography, air transportation is crucial for connecting parts of the country. A flight from easternmost to westernmost Canada takes about eight hours.