Backlog of air passenger complaints to Canada’s transportation regulator tops 57,000, reaching new high

The backlog of air passenger complaints to Canada’s transportation regulator has reached a new high of more than 57,000, as dissatisfaction over cancellation and compensation persists three and a half years after the trigger of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The figures reveal that an average of more than 3,000 complaints per month have accumulated at the Canadian Transportation Agency over the past year, with the current number well over three times the September 2022 total.

Vancouver residents Chad Kerychuk and Melissa Oei say they are mulling a complaint after arriving in Halifax six hours later than planned on a flight from Vancouver in August 2021 and found themselves separated despite paying for more tickets expensive to select their place in advance.

The couple claims WestJet denied their request for a partial refund and that the airline informed them the disruption was caused by unscheduled maintenance – an exclusion from compensation rules that will soon no longer be available to carriers.

In June, the government passed legislation to revise the Canadian Passengers Bill of Rights, including measures to toughen penalties and close gaps in traveler compensation, as well as streamline the complaints process in its entirety.

Although some reforms are not expected to take effect until September 30, the president of the air passengers’ rights group, Gabor Lukacs, says the transport agency could take immediate steps to increase the maximum fine in the event of of airline violations and launch consultations to find out who bears the regulatory costs of complaints.

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