Monday, December 26, 2022

Compensation for Flight Delays and Cancelations in Canada

Air Canada announced on Thursday it would implement a “goodwill refund policy” that allows customers to request a refund or travel voucher if they purchased a ticket no later than Dec. 21 for travel to or from a Canadian airport between Dec. 22 and Dec. 26.

However, many Canadians are left to wonder what their rights are in such situations.  In Canada, air passengers can be compensated for flight delays and cancellations under the Canadian Transportation Agency's Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) - which are not easy to read and comprehend. 
Air Passenger Rights submitted a report to the House of Commons recommending an overhaul of the APPR, including simplifying the language and definitions within the regulations.  To make it less complicated, broke down what rights passengers have when a flight is delayed or canceled, including due to bad weather.

Situations Outside of the Airline's Control
Those reasons can include weather conditions, war or political instability, instructions from air traffic control, medical emergencies, a security threat, and other factors.

In the case of a cancellation, denial of boarding, or delay of three hours or more, airlines must provide passengers with alternate travel arrangements or a refund. If passengers opt for alternative travel arrangements, airlines must provide a seat on their next available flight or one operated by an airline with which they have a commercial agreement, within 48 hours of the original departure time.

If unable to deliver the passenger on its own network within 48 hours of the original departure time, then, in the case of large carriers such as Air Canada, WestJet, and Swoop, there are requirements under the law for passengers to buy tickets at another airline.

If the cause of the cancellation, delay, or denial of boarding is outside an airline's control, the airline is not legally obligated to cover the cost of food or lodging for affected passengers, nor offer any financial compensation.

If the Reason is Within the Airlines Control
In the case of a cancellation or a delay of two hours or more: If passengers are informed less than 12 hours before their departure time, airlines have to provide food and drink in "reasonable quantities" as well as a means of communication. Passengers who are denied boarding are entitled to these rights immediately. If passengers have to wait overnight for their flight, airlines have to offer hotel or other comparable accommodations free of charge, as well as free transportation to the accommodation.

Airlines must also provide alternate travel arrangements or refunds in the event of a cancellation or a delay of three hours or more.  If the cause of the disruption is within their control, though, they have less time – nine hours – to arrange alternate travel within their own network before they are required to book another airline's flight.

If a flight is canceled due to crew shortage, which is within the carrier's control, then they have to rebook you on flights of another airline if they cannot rebook you on their own network within nine hours.

Passengers informed of a cancelation or delay 14 days or less before their departure time, or who are denied boarding, are also entitled to financial compensation of up to $1,000.  The amount of this compensation depends on circumstances such as the length of the delay and the size of the airline. Passengers on flights to Europe or flights from the EU are even better off in terms of compensation...

Delays on the Tarmac?
Sometimes bad weather or air traffic issues will ground a plane on the tarmac with everyone on board for hours before takeoff or after landing.  Whether they are in the terminal or stuck on the tarmac, passengers are entitled to the same rights outlined above in the event of a delay or cancellation.

The airline also needs to provide passengers stuck on the tarmac with access to toilets, proper ventilation,  and cooling, the means to communicate with people outside the plane where feasible, and food and drink, "in reasonable quantities," taking into account the length of the delay.

Once a flight has sat on a tarmac for three hours, airlines are legally obligated to let passengers disembark.  The exception is that if takeoff is imminent, that window of time can be extended by an additional 45 minutes. 

More information:

For full details regarding these regulations see Canadian Transportation Agency Air Passenger Protection Regulations.

Canada Transportation Agency  

If we are not able to provide you with an adequate resolution, you may contact the Canada Transportation Agency at 1-888-222-2592


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