Flight Rights For Passengers In Canada, Sort Of

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Passenger groups fighting airlines for the right to spend delays in relative comfort (as opposed to confined to stuffy aluminum tubes) have won ... something ... in Canada. Canada has launched a Flight Rights Canada program that offers passengers using Canadian-based airlines a degree of protection from ground-bound suffering with new guidelines that direct airlines to offer drinks and snacks to passengers who have been boarded onto then-delayed aircraft. The rules are not legislation or regulation, but because Canadian airlines say they're on board with the plan, Canadian officials feel the guidelines will suffice. In the case that a delay exceeds 90 minutes, the airline will offer passengers the option of de-planing until that aircraft can depart. In the case that a flight is delayed by more than four hours, passengers will get vouchers for a free meal. Due to caveats written into the rules, like "if it's safe, practical and timely to do so," it's not clear exactly how the guidelines will play out in practice and consumer groups have dismissed the measure as pre-election rhetoric with no stick to back it up.

And, as proposed, it seems clear that even in Canada, and even with the new guidelines, passengers could easily find themselves confined for more than 90 minutes without even the comfort of a small bag of peanuts.