Air travel complaints overview

Air travel complaint resolution process

The CTA's simplified complaint process will be easy to access, more efficient and use new systems and technology to deliver faster outcomes to air passengers who submit complaints to the CTA. The process applies to all air travel complaints, including active complaints that have already been submitted. 

If you have already submitted a complaint:

  • you do not have to submit a new complaint
  • the process does not impact the compensation or other entitlements that you may be owed.

Read more about the air travel complaint resolution process.

Frequently asked questions

  • What information and documents do I need to submit a complaint?

    You will be asked in the form to provide information about your flight and the problems you experienced. You will also need to upload your documents throughout the form. It will be easier if you have your all information and documents in one place on your computer, tablet or phone. The documents will need to be in a digital format for upload, as we cannot accept physical copies.

    Documents and information you will need:

    • Proof that you contacted the airline in writing
    • Airline ticket, booking confirmation or invoice
    • Airline booking number or reservation code
    • Booking details, including the complete flight itinerary

    Documents and information you may also need:

    • Receipts for out-of-pocket expenses related to the problem you experienced
    • Ticket number
    • Boarding pass
    • If you were denied boarding (bumping), you will need written confirmation of what the airline offered you

    For baggage-related issues, you may also need:

    • Property Irregularity Report (PIR) or Incident report
    • Damaged property report, if provided
    • Complete list of missing or damaged items, including the value per item
    • Receipts for replacement items
  • Can I submit a complaint about an accessibility issue?

    Persons with disabilities have a right to barrier-free travel. The CTA can help with issues about the:

    • accessibility of flights to, from, and within Canada
    • accessibility of airports in Canada
    • accessibility of transportation services by an airline or terminal in Canada
    • accessibility of trains, ferries and buses that operate between provinces or territories or between Canada and the United States, as well as rail stations and ferry terminals in Canada

    Submit an accessible transportation complaint

    For more information about the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations, visit our Accessible Transportation page.

  • What are the eligibility criteria for an Air travel complaint?

    Your complaint must meets the following criteria:

    1. Your complaint has to involve a flight incident that the CTA can address, such as a flight delay. Please visit our website for a list of things that the CTA cannot address such as airport security screening or airline customer service.
    2. You, or the people you are submitting the complaint for, actually experienced the flight incident raised in your complaint. For example, you cannot submit a complaint about something that you heard about on the news.
    3. You are looking for compensation, a refund, or reimbursement for expenses from the airline related to the flight incident raised in your complaint. The CTA cannot award compensation for pain and suffering, or loss of income.
    4. You have already sent your complaint to the airline in writing before submitting the complaint to the CTA, waited 30 days for the airline's answer, and your complaint remains unresolved.
    5. Your complaint cannot be vexatious or made in bad faith.

    You should also note, if it is clear from the information provided in your complaint, that the airline has fulfilled its obligations under the tariff (the legal document that contains the terms, conditions and other rules that apply to your airline ticket), the complaint may be ineligible. For example, if the airline has already provided you with the compensation you were owed, your complaint would not move forward.

  • Are there time limits or deadlines for submitting a complaint?

    You should act upon your complaint as soon as possible. This will help you establish your case (which may be more difficult after time has passed) and ensure that copies of your documents are available.

    Before you submit a complaint to the CTA, you must contact the airline and wait 30 days for their reply.

    Deadlines to contact or submit a complaint to the airline:

    • Damaged baggage: file a claim with the airline within 7 days of receiving your baggage.

    • Delayed baggage: file a claim with the airline within 21 days of receiving your baggage.

    • Lost baggage: file a claim with the airline as soon as possible. Your baggage is considered lost when it is delayed for 21 days or when the airline admits to losing the baggage before 21 days.

    • Flight delays and cancellations: file a request for compensation with the airline within 1 year of the delay or cancellation. The airline has 30 days to make a payment or explain why not.

  • Do I have to show up in person?

    No, your case resolution and any exchange of information or documents will be done electronically.

  • Are there any costs or fees to submit an air travel complaint?

    No. It doesn’t cost anything to submit an Air travel complaint to the CTA.

  • Do I need a lawyer?

    No, you can complete the Complaint form and any actions required during the complaint resolution process yourself. You can, however, have a friend, family member, representative or lawyer submit your complaint form, but you and anyone included in your complaint, must have actually experienced the flight incident raised in the complaint. 

  • Can I submit a complaint on behalf of someone else?

    Yes, as long as you have their consent. Parents/legal guardians do not require consent to act on behalf of their minor children.

  • Can I submit a complaint about any problem I experience while flying or at the airport?
    We can help with these issues:
    Compensation for a flight delay, cancellation or tarmac delay

    Depending on the reason for the delay or cancellation, the airline may have to offer assistance (food/drinks, communication, overnight accommodation), rebookingrefunds, or compensation for inconvenience.

    Note: Tarmac delays are when the plane is delayed on the ground, with the doors closed, before take-off or after landing.

    For more information about flight disruptions, please visit Flight delays and cancellations

    Compensation and expenses for lost, delayed or damaged baggage

    Deadlines for filing baggage claims:

    To be eligible for compensation, refunds or reimbursement, you must have filed a claim with the airline:

    • within 7 days of receiving your damaged baggage
    • within 21 days of receiving your delayed baggage on international flights
    • as soon as possible for delayed baggage on flights within Canada
    • as soon as possible for baggage that is considered lost

    If you did not submit a claim within these time limits, the airline could deny your claim.

    For more information about baggage complaints, please visit Lost, damaged or delayed baggage.

    Compensation for denied boarding (bumping)

    Denied boarding (bumping) is when there are more passengers with valid tickets who have checked in and arrived at the boarding gate than seats on the plane. This can happen if the flight is oversold or if the plane is changed to one with fewer seats.

    Note: Denied boarding is not the same as Refusal to transport, which is when a passenger is not allowed to travel on their flight because of problems with travel documents, pets, ticket payment, missed deadlines, behaviour, health, safety, or for security reasons.

    Depending on the reason for denied boarding (bumping), the airline may have to offer assistance (food/drinks, communication, overnight accommodation), rebooking or refunds, and compensation for inconvenience.

    Before bumping a passenger, airlines must first ask for volunteers. If you are moved to a later flight, the airline must provide you with a written confirmation of the benefits that you accepted. Compensation is only given if the reason for denied boarding was within the airline’s control.

    For more information on Denied Boarding (Bumping), please visit Denied boarding (Bumping).

    A refund of a ticket, part of a ticket, or a replacement ticket

    This is the full or partial amount you paid for your ticket to your original form of payment. The amount for a partial refund will be calculated based on the original ticket as shown on your ticket, booking confirmation, receipt, or invoice.

    A refund of fees paid (baggage fees, seating fees, change fees, unaccompanied minor fees, etc.)

    This is the amount you paid for your additional fees, including baggage fees, pre-booked seats or pre-paid meals.

    Reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses (accommodation, transportation, food/drink)

    This includes receipts for food and drinks, access to communication (Wi-Fi, phone or roaming charges), accommodation for overnight delays, and transportation to and from the accommodation.

    For baggage issues, this includes receipts for replacing or renting items that were lost or damaged as well as baggage fees.

    Other (refusal to transport, ticket issues, reservations, vouchers, credits, fares, loyalty programs, travelling with children)

    This category includes complaints about:

    • seating of children near a parent or guardian
    • unaccompanied minors
    • refund of ticket(s) as a result of a cancelled reservation
    • travel credits or vouchers
    • charges or changes to my ticket or reservation
    • issues with seating
    • error(s) with my issued ticket
    • airline fares
    • loyalty programs operated by an airline
    There are some issues we can't help with, but these other organizations may be able to help:
    Travel agents or tour operators

    The CTA may be able to review complaints about the air portion of travel booked through a travel agency or as part of a tour package. 

    Complaints about the land portion or services of travel booked through a travel agency or as part of a tour package (accommodation, transfers to and from airports, excursions, etc.) fall under provincial jurisdiction.

    Please consult the provincial or territorial government authority for consumers. Your travel agency or tour operator (including on-line reservations) must be registered with a provincial authority in Canada in order to help you.

    Customs, immigration, or security

    For complaints about customssecurity screeningbaggage inspection or airport security, visit the air transportation section of the Government of Canada Consumer Hub.

    Airport facilities and services (not related to accessibility)

    For issues related to airport facilities or services (not related to accessibility), you can contact the airport directly.

    They can help you with:

    • Lost and found: items left in public areas in the airport terminal buildings
    • Up-to-date flight information
    • Terminal maps
    • Food and shopping services
    • Baggage storage
    • Parking
    • Car rentals
    Airline customer service

    For complaints about airline customer service, you should contact the airline directly.

    Aviation safety

    For complaints about transportation safety or unsafe practices on the plane, you can contact the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

    Unfair competitive services, including false advertising

    For complaints related to false advertisingpricingmergers and acquisitions; etc., contact the Competition Bureau of Canada.

    Human rights violation

    If you experience a human rights issue during air travel, such as discrimination on the basis of race, gender identity or expression, you can find out more about human rights complaints and processes or file a complaint directly with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

    Airplane noise complaints

    If you have an issue about airplane noise, you can get more information from Transport Canada's Managing noise from aircraft website.

    Bilingual airline service

    For issues related to bilingual service, please contact the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

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