Passengers whose flights are delayed or cancelled, or who are denied a plane seat due to overbooking, will be eligible for compensation under the federal government’s new proposed regulations for air travel.

The so-called passenger bill of rights marks the first time the government has laid out specific requirements for airlines to follow when passengers are inconvenienced.

However Gabor Lukacs, founder of the passenger advocacy group Air Passenger Rights, questions what would stop airlines from pinning delays on emergency maintenance to avoid paying up.

“It’s not simply a loophole, it’s a big gaping hole. Airlines will have to pay nothing and they will definitely use that. When you look at the most common causes for flight delays, it’s weather and maintenance issues,” he said.

The rules spell out a minimum rebate of $400 for a three-hour delay of a large commercial flight, rising to $1,000 for a delay of nine hours or more. Lower minimums are in place for smaller operators, including ultra-low-cost services.

Passengers bumped from flights due to overbooking or scheduled aircraft maintenance would be eligible for an immediate $900 in compensation, with $2,400 on offer for passengers delayed nine hours or more due to those issues.

Compensation would not be required in cases where delays are caused due to unforeseen events such as inclement weather, emergency maintenance, airport operation issues and medical emergencies.

The proposed guidelines were detailed Monday by Transport Minister Marc Garneau at an event at Ottawa International Airport. Once finalized, they will apply to all passenger flights originating or landing in Canada.

With files from Saron Fanel