Agency wants Canadians' input on airfare ads

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Canada’s transportation regulator wants input from Canadians on proposed rules that would force airlines to advertise their prices more clearly.

A "significant number" of Canadians have complained that advertised airfares are confusing or end up costing much more than the advertised price, which also makes it difficult to compare prices, the Canadian Transportation Agency said.

In the interest of transparency to consumers and fair competition, the CTA has proposed changes that were mandated by Bill C-11, passed in 2007, but not implemented "due to industry and other concerns at the time," the agency said.

Under the new rules, airfare ads would have to provide the total price, inclusive of all taxes, fees and charges; include a "minimum level of description" of the service, including any limitations; provide a breakdown of all charges paid to a third party, like airport or security fees, HST, etc.; and provide the same detailed pricing information for any extras consumers have to pay for, like seat selection or additional baggage.

The new regulations will apply to air travel from and within Canada, and will bring Canada’s policies in line with updated regulations in Europe and the U.S., as well as in Ontario and Quebec, which have their own provincial legislation.

The CTA has posted its proposal in the government’s official newspaper, the Canada Gazette.

Consumers have until Sept. 13 to comment.