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'Forcible confinement is also a crime': Advocate says Vancouver travellers held in planes at YVR should sue

"Forcible confinement is also a crime under s. 279(2) of the Criminal Code," he said.

Air passengers who were held at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) on the tarmac for upwards of four hours should sue, according to an air passenger rights advocate. 

Overnight Monday (Dec.19), thousands of passengers were stranded at the airport at the airport following the worst winter storm of the year. While snow stopped falling the next day, bone-chilling temperatures caused by an Arctic outflow have kept snow on the ground -- and more is on the way. 

Many passengers waited for hours on the YVR tarmac in planes, with some people waiting upwards of 10 hours. Tamara Vrooman, President and CEO at Vancouver Airport Authority, addressed the long waits in a press conference Thursday, calling them "unacceptable."

For arriving flights, YVR will collaborate with airlines to provide access to gates in sequential order to "ensure" passengers are not held on aircraft, added Vrooman.

But a prominent air passenger rights advocate says travellers who were forced to wait numerous hours should sue.

Vancouver weather causes massive flight delays at YVR

While the Air Passenger Protection Regulations only provide a right for passengers to disembark after roughly three hours (or just shy of four in some cases), they don't provide compensation to them, explained Dr. Gábor Lukács, the founder and president of Air Passenger Rights — a group that gives airline customers information about their rights so they are capable of enforcing them against airlines.

"I would suggest those passengers to sue," he told Vancouver Is Awesome.

"Forcible confinement is also a crime under s. 279(2) of the Criminal Code. That was held to include situations when someone is not allowed off a car even if the doors are not locked."

Numerous people took to social media to share horror stories of being trapped at the airport, with many of them stating that they were stranded at the airport for hours. 

In these cases, however, passengers cannot sue because the winter weather is out of the airline's control. That said, the carrier should refund their ticket or book them on the next available flight. 

Find out more about getting refunds for flight cancellations and delays with our comprehensive guide.