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What to do if you have travel issues when flying

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Do you know what to do if you are denied boarding for a flight even if you have a valid ticket?

A new guide by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) hopes to help air travellers figure out what to do if they encounter any and all problems.

"If you look over the last two years, 61 per cent of Canadians, either their travel was disrupted or they know someone whose travel was disrupted," said Nicolas Ryan, director of public affairs at CAA-Quebec. "When you look at the laws in Canada around this with the air passenger rights, it's mostly complicated for people to understand what they're owed or what they're not owed in some cases."

CAA explains Canada has federal rules governing air passenger rights, but they may not all be well-known to travellers.

This is why, Ryan explains, the CAA guide is hoping to provide "simple and accessible" information to people.

Some of the most common issues include lost bags, flight delays and cancellations.

"In some cases, let's say if it's within the control of the airliners, not only are they expected to either put you on another plane or get you to your destination on the same plane later on, but they probably owe you a compensation," Ryan notes. "The issue right now is that in a lot of cases, and there were 45,000 complaints at the Transportation Agency of Canada, people are not getting what they're owed."

He adds some people are also getting "incomplete information" from the airlines.

"When your plane is late, there are a lot of situations where you can actually get money from the airliners because the plane is late," Ryan said. "Knowing that, well, that's one thing, but then when you go through the actual process in Canada, it can be complicated, and then you're at the mercy, sometimes, of the airliners."

As a result, CAA found in its most recent survey over 80 per cent of Canadians said they wanted more transparency from the federal government and the airlines.

Nevertheless, Ryan points out not all disruptions come under government rule.

This includes Lynx Air suspending all of its flights indefinitely due to bankruptcy.

"There are three things that we can tell people that were expecting to travel with Lynx," said Ryan. "Call your credit card company, call your travel agency, or the most common one, you call your insurance that we hope you bought before travelling."

The CAA findings are based on a poll of 2,503 Canadians from Oct. 20 to 30, 2023.

A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2%.

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