Canadian air travellers faced with long delays, bumped flights or lost luggage now have better rights and access to compensation under the new Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR). With more passenger rights being introduced on December 15, gone will be the days when passengers faced with bad news stand helpless at a counter with no idea about what is going on and why, or what help they can expect from the airlines.
For the first time, Canadians have standardized, publicly-accessible passenger rights and can expect fair and better treatment from airlines, along with compensation when carriers fail to deliver adequate services to passengers (insert fist bump here).
When it comes to travel, it helps to expect the unexpected. While the APPR offers a certain amount of security for travellers, there are other protections that can kick in with Travel Insurance for mishaps outside of an airline’s responsibility. Read on to see how you can save time and money by having Travel Insurance and the APPR work together to protect you and your family.
Additional air passenger rights
This past July, air passenger rights were put into effect for the following travel disruptions: Denial of boarding (being bumped), tarmac delays and lost or damaged luggage. On December 15, we can all look forward to the additional rights listed below to kick in, just in time for the busy holiday travel season. For full details on the APPR, visit the Canadian Transportation Agency website.
1. Compensation when the airline cancels your flight, or it’s delayed before boarding
Everything is running like clockwork, you arrived 3 hours before your flight, you packed smart and got through security without a hitch. Hooray! But wait, now your flight’s delayed. So much for that great game plan. While there are many causes for flight cancellations or delays that are outside of a carrier’s control, under the APPR, your carrier is still obligated to keep you properly informed.
For situations in which your airline has some level of control, you’re now entitled to a level of treatment and compensation under the new APPR. Passenger treatment and compensation for a cancelled or delayed flight, along with what the carrier is required to do will depend on the length of the delay, size and constraints of the carrier and how much control it has on the delay. Check the Canadian Transportation Agency website to get details and find out the levels of compensation for flight cancellations and delays.
2. Help with seating arrangements when you’re travelling with children under the age of 14
Naturally, parents and guardians will want their child to be seated next to them. The APPR now requires that airlines help arrange seating for children younger than the age of 14 years at no additional cost. Here are the guidelines:
- Children under the age of 5 are seated next to their parent or guardian.
- Children aged 5 to 11 are in the same row and no more than one seat away from their parent or guardian.
- Children aged 12 or 13 are no more than one row away.
5 reasons you still need Travel Insurance
You may be asking yourself if you still need Travel Insurance now that airlines provide compensation for travel problems under the new APPR. The way we see it? The APPR provides consumer protection and monetary compensation only for specific travel disruptions that involve an airline. On the other hand, Travel Insurance provides coverage for a variety of travel mishaps outside of what an airline can be held responsible for by the APPR.
1. If you have to cancel or need to cut your trip short
Whether it’s a fender bender on your way to the airport or an emergency back home that requires you to return, having to cancel a long-planned vacation or cut it off short is disappointing. Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance provides coverage for a wide range of travel risks that are outside of an airline’s control and therefore, outside of the APPR’s scope. With Trip Cancellation & Interruption protection, you’re covered on multiple fronts and can often recoup the financial investment you made for your trip, which includes scenarios where the APPR doesn’t require an airline to offer compensation.
- Trip cancellation provides coverage if your travel plans are cancelled prior to departure while trip interruption coverage comes into effect if your trip is disrupted after it has already begun. Missed connections, sickness, injury as well as Canadian government travel advisories are just some of the many risks covered.
- Trip Cancellation & Interruption can cover some of your unused, prepaid travel expenses that are non-refundable, such as excursions or event tickets. They can also cover the cost of returning home sooner than expected if something happens at your home while you're away. “Extra” expenses may include unexpected meals and overnight stays due to an unforeseen event.
Word of caution: Credit card insurance policies sometimes offer these coverages, but on the condition that you purchase the full cost of your tickets with that particular credit card. So, check the coverage that comes with your credit card closely for restrictions as well as coverage limits to ensure it can cover the entire cost of your trip. Both Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance are included in the BCAA Trip Protection Package.
2. If you experience a medical emergency during your trip
It’s important that you and your family have Travel Emergency Medical Insurance any time you leave BC, even if it’s just to cross the US border or visit a neighbouring province. While you can get some coverage through Health Insurance BC, your group plan at work or a credit card company, it’s important to keep in mind that there are often strict coverage limitations and eligibility rules on these plans. Be sure to check these types of policies for the following:
- High enough dollar limit.
- Coverage for the full number of days per trip that you require.
- Coverage for out-of-province domestic trips (some credit card companies or employer benefits may only apply to international travel).
Private insurers, such as BCAA offer travel insurance plans that provide comprehensive coverage or can complement and bolster other types of plans. BCAA’s comprehensive out-of-province travel emergency medical coverage includes a maximum of ten million dollars in emergency medical coverage.
Another thing to note is that Health Insurance BC may only cover 10% of medical expenses incurred outside of BC and may not cover you for services such as ground and air ambulance transportation, X-rays, emergency dental care and prescription drugs. These services can be pricey and could add up to thousands of dollars.
3. Baggage delays and theft
Under the APPR, airlines are required to provide compensation for lost or damaged luggage. But luggage that’s delayed, even by a few hours can be just as inconvenient for travellers. Travel Insurance provides coverage if your bag is delayed.
For example, if your bag arrives over 12 hours later, BCAA’s Baggage Coverage (available on its own as an add-on to Travel Emergency Medical Insurance, or as part of the Trip Protection Package) will cover you for:
- $200 worth of personal necessities like clothes, toiletries and more.
- Up to $1,500 for your personal effects if your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen while you’re travelling or staying in accommodations.
- Up to $100 of currency theft during your travels.
4. Kids go free with BCAA Travel Insurance
Spending time as a family is valuable and going on a vacation with children is something we all cherish. That’s why BCAA Travel Insurance covers children for FREE*. When you and your partner have BCAA Travel Insurance, your children are automatically covered at no extra charge. This is available for both single trip or an annual multi-trip plan. Plus, Members save 10% on BCAA Travel Insurance.
5. Expert claims processes
When you’re facing a hiccup with your airlines, you have to follow its particular claims process, which can vary from airline to airline, and hope that you’ll be compensated appropriately by the carrier. Most travel insurance companies have easy claims processes in place which are designed to assist travellers and put their coverages into action. BCAA has Insurance and Claims Experts prepared to help travellers 24/7 should you run into a travel mishap or medical emergency during your trip.
* Dependent children are free on a family policy with two paying adults. Adults must be aged 59 or younger.