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Bill of rights for airline passengers to be in place by 2018: Transport Minister

Transport Minister Marc Garneau answers a question during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, on April 11, 2016.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

In the wake of another controversial case of passenger bumping, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau reiterated Tuesday that legislation addressing the rights of airline passengers is coming later this spring.

Asked to comment about the case of a 10-year-old Prince Edward Island boy who was bumped from an Air Canada flight, Garneau said a bill of rights for passengers would be in place by 2018.

He wouldn't speculate on what measures would be included in the bill of rights — an idea that was floated last November.

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Garneau said it would spell out situations where compensation could be had, adding it would be "fair" and recognize the rights of passengers while being "practical" for airlines.

"This is a clear recognition that when you buy a ticket to a flight somewhere, you have certain rights," he told reporters at an unrelated event in Montreal.

"This bill of rights will address the issue of what happens when you're not given the service you paid for and it is within the control of the airline, what measures to compensate you will be taken."

The boy was bumped from an Air Canada flight that was supposed to take his family to Costa Rica during the March break.

The boy's father, Brett Doyle, said he negotiated with Air Canada to get a $2,500 voucher plus expenses, but that the amount falls short of covering tickets for the family of four.

Doyle said an apology came only after the media picked up on the story a few days ago.

But a spokeswoman for the airline said an apology by email was sent in mid-March. It has offered generous compensation and is investigating what happened.

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"Our policy is very clear and this situation involving a family travelling together should not have occurred," Isabelle Arthur said in a statement. "We are following up to understand what went wrong."

Garneau promised to help people who feel they are getting short shrift when it comes to the airline industry's controversial practice of overselling flights and bumping passengers.

Garneau said enshrining certain rules could help.

"Hopefully it will minimize the situations where we have overbooking and people are feeling they have no recourse," he said.

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