Important Information for Travellers During COVID-19

Suspension of all air dispute resolution activities

During these difficult times, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) continues to maintain its normal operations while our employees practice social distancing. Our dedicated employees are working remotely and are available through electronic means to provide service. You can continue to request CTA services, file applications, and do normal business with us through our normal channels.

Please note, however, that the CTA has temporarily paused all dispute resolution activities involving air carriers until June 30, 2020, to permit them to focus on immediate and urgent operational demands. While you can continue to file air passenger complaints with us and all complaints will be processed in due course, we may not be able to respond quickly. On or before June 30, 2020, the Agency will determine if the pause should end on that date or be extended to a later date.

Air Passenger Protection Obligations During COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization assessed the outbreak of COVID-19 as a pandemic. Since the outbreak of the virus, a number of countries, including Canada, have imposed travel bans, restrictions, or advisories. Officials have also recommended behaviours, such as enhanced hygiene practices and social distancing, to mitigate the spread of the virus. The situation is evolving rapidly, and further restrictions relating to travel may be implemented.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has taken steps to address the major impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the airline industry by making temporary exemptions to certain requirements of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) that apply from March 13, 2020 until June 30, 2020.

This guide explains these temporary changes and how the APPR apply to certain flight disruptions related to COVID-19.

In addition to the APPR, carriers must also follow their tariffs. In light of the COVID-19 Pandemic, CTA has issued a Statement on Vouchers.

Related Links

Air carriers - Exemptions due to COVID-19 pandemic
A-2020-42 | Determination | 2020-03-13

Air Canada also carrying on business as Air Canada rouge and as Air Canada Cargo - temporary exemption from the advance notice requirements of section 64 of the CTA
2020-A-36 | Order | 2020-03-25

Extension of stay - COVID-19 - immediate and temporary stay of all dispute proceedings involving air carriers
2020-A-37 | Order | 2020-03-25

Air carriers - further exemptions due to COVID-19 pandemic
A-2020-47 | Determination | 2020-03-25

Delays and Cancellations

The APPR set airline obligations to passengers that vary depending on whether the situation is within the airline's control, within the airline's control and required for safety purposes, or outside the airline's control. Descriptions of these categories can be found in Types and Categories of Flight Disruption: A Guide.

The CTA has identified a number of situations related to the COVID-19 pandemic that are considered outside the airline's control. These include:

  • flight disruptions to locations that are covered by a government advisory against travel or unnecessary travel due to COVID-19;
  • employee quarantine or self-isolation due to COVID-19; and
  • additional hygiene or passenger health screening processes put in place due to COVID-19.

Airlines may make decisions to cancel or delay flights for other reasons. Whether these situations are within or outside the airline's control would have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Airline obligations

In the event of a flight delay or cancellation, airlines must always keep passengers informed of their rights and the cause of a flight disruption. Airlines must also always make sure the passengers reach their destinations (re-booking them on other flights).

If the cause of the disruption is within an airline's control, there are additional obligations, as outlined below.

Situations outside airline control (including COVID-19 related situations mentioned above)

In these situations, airlines must:

  • Rebook passengers on the next available flight operated by them or a partner airline.
    • For disruptions between March 13, 2020 and June 30, 2020, airlines do not have to follow APPR requirements to rebook passengers using an airline with which they have no commercial agreement.
    • Please refer to the CTA's Statement on Vouchers.
    • This obligation does not require air carriers to rebook passengers who have already completed their booked trip (including by other means such as a repatriation flight).
Situations within airline control

In these situations, airlines must:

  • Meet standards of treatment
  • Rebook passengers on the next available flight operated by them or a partner airline or a refund, if rebooking does not meet the passenger's needs;
    • For disruptions between March 13, 2020 and June 30, 2020, airlines do not have to follow APPR requirements to rebook passengers using an airline with which they have no commercial agreement.
    • Please refer to the CTA's Statement on Vouchers.
    • This obligation does not require air carriers to rebook passengers who have already completed their booked trip (including by other means such as a repatriation flight).
  • Provide compensation: For disruptions between March 13, 2020 and June 30, 2020, different compensation requirements are in effect. If the airline notified the passengers of the delay or cancellation less than 72 hours in advance, they must provide compensation based on how late the passenger arrived at their destination (unless the passenger accepted a ticket refund):
    • Large airline:
      • 6-9 hours: $400
      • 9+ hours: $700
    • Small airline:
      • 6-9 hours: $125
      • 9+ hours: $250
  • Effective March 25, 2020, the deadline for a carrier to respond to claims filed by passengers for payment of the compensation for inconvenience is suspended until June 30, 2020 (or any further period that the Agency may order). Once the suspension is over, carriers will have 120 days to respond to claims received before or during the suspension.
Situations within airline control, but required for safety

In these situations, the airline must:

  • Meet standards of treatment;
  • Rebook passengers on the next available flight operated by them or a partner airline or a refund, if rebooking does not meet the passenger's needs.
    • For disruptions between March 13, 2020 and June 30, 2020, airlines do not have to follow APPR requirements to rebook passengers using an airline with which they have no commercial agreement.
    • Please refer to the CTA's Statement on Vouchers.
    • This obligation does not require air carriers to rebook passengers who have already completed their booked trip (including by other means such as a repatriation flight).

Other APPR requirements

All other air passenger entitlements under the APPR remain in force, including clear communication, tarmac delays and seating of children. For more information visit the CTA's Know Your Rights page.

Refusal to transport

The Government of Canada has barred foreign nationals from all countries other than the United States from entering Canada (with some exceptions). Airlines have also been instructed to prevent all travellers who present COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of their citizenship, from boarding international flights to Canada.

The APPR obligations for flight disruptions would not apply in these situations.

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