Air Passenger Complaints Triple in One Year to Pass 42,000 as Backlog Grows

Air Passenger Complaints Triple in One Year to Pass 42,000 as Backlog Grows
Passengers arrive at Pearson Airport in Mississauga, Ont. on Mar. 14, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Chris Young)
The Canadian Press
The number of air passenger complaints to Canada’s transport regulator is soaring, more than tripling to 42,000 over the past year.

The growing backlog means each case now needs more than a year and a half to handle, spurring advocates and politicians to question the entire process.

NDP transport critic Taylor Bachrach plans to table a private member’s bill today that aims to close loopholes, increase fines and make compensation automatic for travellers whose flights are delayed or cancelled.

Bachrach and John Lawford, who heads the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, say the passenger rights overhaul promised by the federal government for this spring needs to make compensation automatic in the event of significant delays or short-notice cancellations.

Last week, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra pledged $76 million over three years to chip away at the backlog by hiring 200 more employees,

He also vowed to end a loophole that lets airlines reject compensation claims by citing safety as the reason for a flight disruption.

The complaint backlog shot up after travel chaos erupted over the summer and again during the winter holidays as flight demand surged and weather refused to co-operate.