The United Airlines scandal involving a passenger being violently dragged off an overbooked flight in the U.S. is still a freshly cut wound, and it doesn’t look like it will be scabbing over any time soon. People across the globe were angered not only by how the situation was handled, but at the general practice of overbooked flights as well.
Canada is taking steps to address the issue with new legislation that will outline new bumping rules in an air passenger bill of rights. Such will include the minimum requirements for compensation in situations such as overbooked flights or lost luggages.
While the outright banning of overbooked flights is far from unlikely, the new legislation could offer greater consumer protection to passengers. Transport Minister Marc Garneau has not yet specified exactly what will be included in the proposed air passenger bill of rights, but it could also potentially prevent airlines from using violent or forcible means to facilitate the bumping.
Currently, there is no bill of rights for air passengers in Canada. In fact, many Canadian airlines do not indicate whether or not their staff can actually use excessive force to remove passengers from flights. Passengers are typically only forcibly removed from flights if they are intoxicated, involved in criminal activity or believed to be a threat of some kind to everyone else on board. Situations in which passengers refuse to leave a flight due to overbooking is not a criminal dispute, and therefore there shouldn’t be any need to rely on police authorities to conduct the bumping.
Airlines do, however, have the legal right to tell passengers to leave a flight as they are still the owners of the aircraft. But a grey area still remains with regards to what rights air passengers are have. Many Canadians are hopeful that the new legislation will clarify these rules and make flying safer for everyone.