A bill including air passenger rights is before the Senate. (File photo)

Bumped on a flight home for the holidays

Air Canada passenger shares her experience trying to fly home from Ottawa to Prince Rupert

Going home for the holidays can be a pain between traffic, weather complications and jetlag. Add in a delayed or cancelled flight? No, thanks.

On Dec. 18, Jillian LeBlanc was flying from Ottawa to Prince Rupert with Air Canada, but when she arrived at her gate in the Vancouver airport she was told her scheduled flight had been rebooked. She found out that even though the plane was still there, it weighed too much for her to be allowed onboard.

Since flights only go to Prince Rupert twice a day, that meant LeBlanc had hours to wait before the next available seat. Air Canada, she said in a stream of tweets on Twitter, did not pay for accommodation, transportation or meals caused by the bumped flight.

“I am fortunate enough to be able to afford these extra expenses,” LeBlanc wrote in a tweet. “But, many cannot and would be left stranded in the airport overnight and potentially [without] food. This is a ridiculous policy which unfairly affects rural areas.”

It’s a problem that has made its way to Parliament Hill. The Transportation Modernization Act, Bill C-49, includes establishing an air passengers bill of rights as a new section in the Canada Transportation Act. It could cover flight delays, cancellations and denied boarding.

The bill passed in the House of Commons on Nov. 1, and is currently before the Senate, where the second reading was on Dec. 8.

But the amendment is one of 13 in the proposed bill, a tactic called omnibus litigation that MP Nathan Cullen said the federal government promised not to use. That’s why Cullen voted against Bill C-49 when it was before the House of Commons in November.

The government wouldn’t make the changes proposed by the NDP, Cullen said, pointing to parts of the bill that might be illegal. Included in the bill is a section about cameras and voice recorders in trains, which Cullen added could result in a future lawsuit if allowed.

Of the passenger rights, Cullen said they were long overdue.

READ MORE: Cullen reflects on 2017



keili.bartlett@thenorthernview.com

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