What you need to know when your air travel is disrupted
CTA Air Travel Complaints
If your travel has been disrupted and you're not satisfied with how an airline resolved your issue, you can file a complaint, with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA). The CTA can help resolve complaints about air travel within, to and from Canada. Our role is to make sure that airlines apply their terms and conditions of carriage set out in their tariffs, follow the Air Passenger Protection Regulations, and that both passengers and airlines have met their respective responsibilities.
Your airline should always inform you of any flight changes and the reasons behind them. Most of the time, our trips unfold without a hitch, but sometimes things do not go as planned. Here is an outline of what you can expect in certain types of situations.
Airline Terms and Conditions
Airlines must follow their terms and conditions of carriage in their domestic and international tariffs, and respect their obligations to passengers in the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR).
If you're flying to or from a foreign destination, your airline must also respect provisions listed in the Warsaw or Montreal Convention. These treaties regulate liability for international carriage of persons, luggage, or goods. Tariffs need to clearly indicate what recourses passengers have in those types of situations.
Flight Delays and Cancellations
The APPR provide clear and consistent air passenger rights by imposing certain minimum airline requirements for flights to, from and within Canada, including standards of treatment and, in some situations, compensation for passengers.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled and the reason is within the airline's control and not safety-related, you are entitled to a specific standard of treatment, compensation, and rebooking or a refund.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled and the reason is within the airline's control and required for safety purposes, you are entitled to a specific standard of treatment and rebooking or a refund.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled and the reason is outside of the airline's control, you are entitled to rebooking.
To see what provisions of the APPR apply to your situation, consult our online service for air passengers at airpassengerprotection.ca.
A labour disruption within the carrier or within an essential service provider such as an airport or an air navigation service provider is deemed outside the airline's control. This means that the airline must provide you with status updates and that you complete your travel as soon as possible, but is not required to provide compensation under the APPR. Should your flight be disrupted because of this type of labour dispute, you should:
- contact the airline to confirm your travel dates and ask what you should do to prepare;
- regularly consult the airline's website to determine if it has implemented a policy dealing with this situation for ticket holders;.
- verify if your travel insurance or the credit card insurance covers refunds for flights disruptions caused by labor disruptions; and
- If you are flexible with your travel dates, you might consider alternate dates or ask if a refund is permitted. Often times, carriers will loosen their ticket rules.
If you are not satisfied with the airline's response, you can file a complaint with the CTA.
Cessation of operations
If your travel arrangements have fallen through because the airline went out of business, either before you departed or mid trip, your course of action would depend on how you purchased your ticket.
If you booked your travel through a travel agent, you should contact them as soon as possible to make alternate arrangements.
If your travel agent is registered in Ontario, Quebec or British Columbia contact the following provincial authorities for advice on claims for reimbursement:
If you did not use a travel agent but purchased your flight with a credit card, you may be eligible for a refund from your credit card company.
Catastrophes and public health emergencies
If an airline cancels or delays your flight to or from a certain region because of a catastrophe (such as a revolution, war, earthquake, or flood), a public health emergency (such as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern declared by the World Health Organization), or a related travel ban, this would generally be considered outside the airline’s control.
If the airline cancels or delays flights to nearby regions, this may also be outside their control, for example, if the catastrophe or public health emergency was the primary reason for the disruption. Each situation would have to be assessed on its own merits.
The APPR does not address airline obligations if a passenger wishes to change or cancel their flight reservation. If a passenger wishes to cancel or change their own flight reservation to a certain region because of a catastrophe, public health emergency, or related travel advisory there or in a nearby region, the passenger should speak directly with the airline or check the airline's tariff and the fare rules on the airline's website.
In some cases, an airline may refuse to transport a passenger, for example, for health, safety or immigration reasons, or if the passenger is not allowed to enter their destination country. Airlines set out the circumstances where they will refuse to transport a passenger in their tariffs.
If you are in a foreign country and your flight is cancelled for any of these reasons, you should contact the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate for assistance. Once your safety is secured, you should contact your airline to find out what your options are.