Transportation watchdog investigating WestJet after customer complaint

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WestJet signage is pictured at Vancouver's international airport in Richmond, B.C. on Feb. 5, 2019.

BEN NELMS / Reuters

Canada's transportation watchdog is launching an inquiry into how WestJet Airlines Ltd. handles its passengers during schedule changes after an incident last month saw travelers bumped without compensation.

The Canadian Transportation Agency says it is a contract with customers – it follows a complaint from a flight out of Edmonton.

According to media reports, WestJet told us that the incident amounted to "flight delay" rather than a "denial of boarding."

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Under Canada 's passenger bill of rights – partly implemented on July 15, a week before the flight – airlines have no obligation to pay for out of its control. Delays within its control may not require compensation until Dec. 15, when the second phase of regulations comes into force.

Passenger-rights advocate Gabor Lukacs says incident underscores loopholes in the new rights regime – maybe more so than WestJet's tariff – adding that it is unfortunate it took a media report to prompt the inquiry.

The agency says it has directed WestJet to provide information and will decide on next steps after it is received.

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