Baggage Requirements for Domestic Services: A Guide
Table of contents
This guide explains what airlines must do to meet baggage requirements for domestic services. In particular, it explains that under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations:
- airlines operating domestic flights that are not captured by the Montreal Convention are liable in cases of lost and damaged baggage as though the Montreal Convention applied;
- airlines must refund all baggage fees for baggage that is lost or damaged; and
- airlines have additional obligations related to the transport of mobility aids.
For delayed baggage, airlines' obligations are outlined in the airlines' domestic tariffs applicable to the ticket purchased by the passenger (the tariff is the contract of transport between the air carrier and the passenger).
This is not a legal document. The Carriage by Air Act sets out which international conventions have force of law in Canada in relation to airline liability for lost, damaged or delayed baggage, including those of the Montreal Convention (full name: Convention for the Unification of certain Rules for International Carriage by Air). The Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) apply the same rules to domestic flights for lost and damaged baggage. In case of differences between this guide and legislation, regulations or Canadian Transportation (CTA) decisions, the legislation, regulations and decisions prevail.
Key legislative and regulatory requirements related to baggage can be found in Annex A of this guide.
2. Canadian Regulations and the Montreal Convention
The Montreal Convention establishes airline liability for lost, delayed and damaged baggage applicable to international carriage. The Air Passenger Protection Regulations apply the same rules and liability limits for lost and damaged baggage for domestic services. For delayed baggage, the applicable limits of liability and related terms and conditions are those set out by airlines in their domestic tariffs, which are expected to be consistent with the Montreal Convention.
The maximum liability for damages for baggage lost or damaged is 1,288 special drawing rights (SDR) per passenger.
- SDR is the International Monetary Fund's unit of accounting.
- 1,288 SDR equals approximately CAN$2,350, subject to currency exchange rates.
- This amount could change over time. Every five years, the International Civil Aviation Organization reviews the liability limits to see whether they need to be adjusted for inflation.
Baggage valued over the liability limit
If a passenger’s baggage is valued at more than the liability limit, the passenger may, prior to being transported, ask the airline for a special declaration of interest (excess valuation). If the airline agrees, it is then liable for the sum set out in the declaration.
Under the Montreal Convention, the airline may set a fee to make a special declaration of interest. The airline may also limit the value of baggage by refusing to carry anything valued over a certain amount or that may be of greater value. Airlines must outline these restrictions in their tariffs (terms and conditions of carriage).
Airlines should not use the provisions of the Montreal Convention in a way that restricts the accessibility of air transportation services to persons with disabilities.
Time limits for making a claim
The following time limits apply to passengers making a baggage claim with respect to domestic services:
- For damaged baggage claims, passengers must complain in writing to the airline within 7 days of the date they received the baggage.
- For delayed baggage claims, passengers should submit a claim in writing to the airline as soon as possible and no later than the time limit found in the terms and conditions applicable to the ticket purchased with the airline.
- Baggage that has been delayed for 21 days is considered lost. In this case, the passenger should submit a claim to the airline as soon as possible
For lost and damaged baggage, there is a 2-year time limit for any court action to claim damages.
3. Baggage Fees
The Air Passenger Protection Regulations also include obligations regarding fees charged for baggage. When baggage has been lost or damaged, airlines must refund any optional baggage service fees the passenger purchased. This includes:
- standard baggage fees;
- fees for extra baggage; and
- fees for oversized baggage.
The refund requirement does not apply to any baggage allowance included in a fare.
For delayed baggage, obligations regarding fees charged for baggage would be outlined in the airline's tariff.
4. Mobility Aids
ASL version of this chapter
More and more Canadians are travelling with mobility aids. Although mobility aids are not specifically mentioned in the Air Passenger Protection Regulations, airlines are obligated, up to the point of undue hardship, to transport mobility aids and to repair, replace, or provide reimbursement for damaged, delayed, or lost mobility aids.
Passengers with disabilities who use mobility aids should consider completing the special declaration of interest (excess valuation) when travelling internationally.
To ensure the accessibility of air transportation services, airlines must not impose a fee for the transportation of mobility aids and should not impose a fee for special declarations related to mobility aids.
For more information, see the guidance on Travelling with mobility aids and other assistive devices : A guide, and the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations, which came into force in July 2020.
Annex A: Legislative and Regulatory References
Canada Transportation Act
86.11 (1) The Agency shall, after consulting with the Minister, make regulations in relation to flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights,
(b) respecting the carrier’s obligations in the case of flight delay, flight cancellation or denial of boarding, including
(i) the minimum standards of treatment of passengers that the carrier is required to meet and the minimum compensation the carrier is required to pay for inconvenience when the delay, cancellation or denial of boarding is within the carrier’s control,
(ii) the minimum standards of treatment of passengers that the carrier is required to meet when the delay, cancellation or denial of boarding is within the carrier’s control, but is required for safety purposes, including in situations of mechanical malfunctions,
(iii) the carrier’s obligation to ensure that passengers complete their itinerary when the delay, cancellation or denial of boarding is due to situations outside the carrier’s control, such as natural phenomena and security events, and
(iv) the carrier’s obligation to provide timely information and assistance to passengers.
Air Passenger Protection Regulations
Lost or damaged baggage
23 (1) If a carrier admits to the loss of baggage, or if baggage is lost for more than 21 days or is damaged, the carrier must provide compensation equal to or greater than the sum of
(a) the fees paid for that baggage,
(b) in cases where the Carriage by Air Act applies, the compensation payable in accordance with that Act, and
(c) in cases where the Carriage by Air Act does not apply, the amount that would be payable by the carrier in accordance with the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air set out in Schedule VI to that Act, if the carrier were conducting international carriage of baggage within the meaning of paragraph 1 of Article 1 of that Convention.
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