Air travellers aren’t happy.
The total number of complaints the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) faced about air travel increased last year, according to the Canadian Press, as a backlog of issues carried over from the previous year.
The agency says there were 28,673 complaints in total for the year up to March 31, 2022 – up from 26,742 a year earlier.
The year's total includes 12,158 new complaints, for about an eight per cent drop from the previous year, plus the carry-over of 16,515 reports from the prior year.
As one might expect, flight disruptions are people’s biggest pet peeve, followed by ticketing process and then reservations.
Issues that saw complaints in the hundreds or less included baggage problems, refusal to transport, standards of treatment and communications, the CTA says.
As for how airlines ranked, WestJet had the most complaints processed against it at 3,288, up from the 1,101 a year earlier, the CTA says.
Air Canada's 3,245 complaints saw a decrease from the 3,481 it had a year earlier; Air Transat had 1,483 complaints; and Sunwing had 884, the CTA says.
The passenger rights charter implemented in 2019 also led to a spike in complaints in the 2019-2022 year.
The Air Passenger Protection Regulations that came into effect in 2019 state that passengers have to be compensated for up to $2,400 if they were denied boarding due “flight bumping” – because a trip was overbooked – and receive up to $2,100 for lost or damaged luggage.
READ MORE: New refund rules will "close the gap" in the air passenger protection, says CTA CEO
Delays and other payments for cancelled trips warrant compensation of up to $1,000.
This week, the CTA announced new rules that require that refunds be provided for cancelled flights or lengthy delays in all types of situations outside an air carrier’s control and regardless of the type of ticket that was purchased.
“These regulations will close the gap in the Canadian air passenger protection regime highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that even when cancellations and lengthy delays occur that are outside the airline’s control, passengers will be protected if the airline cannot complete their itinerary within a reasonable period of time,” France Pégeot, CTA chief executive officer, said in a statement.
The new rules will come into force on Sept. 8, 2022.
Until that date, passengers whose flights are cancelled or delayed by three hours or more for reasons the airline cannot control, including weather or closed borders, are not entitled to a refund.
In cases like this, the airline must rebook them on the next available flight.