Flight attendants and passengers have no rights

For many Canadians, this past Canada Day long weekend was an enjoyable time spent with family and friends, possibly attending local celebrations. However, it was also a hectic time for air travel. Unfortunately, many WestJet passengers experienced severe delays due to flight cancellations caused by a labour dispute.

The immense frustration of those caught in this situation is understandable. Travellers followed all the rules, checked online to confirm their flights were on time, and arrived at the airport only to find their flights had been cancelled. What was not understandable was the complete lack of communication and customer service from WestJet to accommodate these passengers and find alternative ways to get them to their destinations.

Outrage was an understatement.

To make matters worse, many airlines seem to cancel flights if they are not near capacity. This results in insufficient space to accommodate travellers from cancelled WestJet flights. Those lucky enough to find seats with other airlines faced premium prices, which many could not afford, especially if they had already paid WestJet for a cancelled flight.

The same goes for those returning from abroad, who checked out of their hotels and travelled to the airport, only to be told that despite the cancellation of their flight, they must arrange their own accommodations at a premium cost until their flight could be rebooked. As a parent, I feel very badly for those thrust into these circumstances, particularly those with children.

Many Canadians have discovered that the Trudeau Liberal Government’s “Air Passenger Bill of Rights” is inadequate in addressing the concerns of stranded passengers and fails to hold airlines accountable. It is not just passengers who are impacted by flight delays; flight attendants are also hit hard. Most flight attendants in Canada are only paid when the aircraft is in motion. This means they are often not compensated for additional time lost due to delays or cancellations. For those with childcare or pet care costs, this adds to the problem.

The Official Conservative Opposition believes it is unfair for flight attendants to suffer financial consequences for matters outside their control. Lianne Rood, Conservative Member of Parliament for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, has proposed a private member’s bill titled “The Flight Attendants Fairness Act.” This bill proposes that airlines should be required to pay flight attendants for work done before, during, and after a flight by amending the Canadian Labour Code.

This week, I have two questions: Do you support “The Flight Attendants Fairness Act”?  Have you had any dealings related to the Air Passenger Bill of Rights, and were you successful with the outcome?

I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.