Government-issued travel bans

If flights are cancelled for reasons outside airlines' control, for example, when the Government of Canada and\or other governments issue travel bans, airlines must follow the requirements of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) or the terms and conditions set out in the airlines' tariffs, whichever obligations are more advantageous for the passenger. The APPR require airlines to provide alternate travel arrangements including, if necessary, to book passengers travel on other airlines. Other passenger entitlements would arise from the tariffs of the airlines in question. Airlines are not required to pay compensation for any inconvenience arising from a flight cancellation due to situations outside their control.

Any passenger who believes an airline did not respect their obligations can file a complaint with the Agency. All complaints are dealt with on their merits.

There are three types of rules the airlines must follow:

  1. The rules set by the CTA in the Air Passenger Protection Regulations that cover flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights.
  2. The rules set by the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Montreal Convention.
  3. The rules set out by the airlines in their terms and conditions listed in their Tariff, which is the contract between you and the airline when you buy a ticket.

Know your rights

If you experienced a problem, you should first contact your airline to resolve it. If that does not work, you can file a complaint with us. The CTA processes complaints and settles disputes between travelers and airlines. The CTA will try to resolve the matter quickly and informally through facilitation or mediation. If facilitation and mediation don't work, the complaint may then go through adjudication, a court-like process where a decision will be issued based on elements of proof submitted.

Airlines have obligations to follow the rules about:

 Clear communications

Clear and timely communication of accurate information to passengers is critical to ensuring a positive passenger experience. Airlines must:

  • inform you of their policies on delays, cancellations, denied boarding, lost or damaged baggage and the seating of children in a simple, clear way;
  • inform you about your rights and the remedies available;
  • provide the reason for a flight disruption;
  • provide regular status updates during delays; and
  • make sure that communication is accessible to persons with disabilities.
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Flight delays and cancellations

In the event of a flight delay or cancellation, the airline must:

  • inform you about your rights and the remedies available;
  • provide the reason for the disruption; and
  • give regular status updates during delays.

Depending on the reason for the flight delay or cancellation, an airline has minimum obligations to passengers that could include standards of treatment, rebooking or refunds, and compensation for inconvenience.

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 Denied boarding (Bumping)

Denied boarding happens when there are fewer seats available on a flight than there are passengers who have checked in and arrived at the gate on time for boarding and are in possession of valid travel documentation.

Bumping does not include situations where a passenger must be refused transport for reasons such as not having a valid passport or arriving late at the gate.

Depending on the reason for the denied boarding, an airline has minimum obligations to passengers that could include standards of treatment, rebooking or refunds, and compensation for inconvenience.

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 Tarmac delays

A tarmac delay at departure begins after the doors of the aircraft are closed for take-off. A tarmac delay on arrival begins after the flight has landed.

Passengers have specific rights in a tarmac delay situation. Airlines must provide them with certain amenities while they wait on board the aircraft.

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 Refusal to transport

As a passenger you have responsibilities to ensure that you are not refused transport by an airline. You must:

  • have appropriate and valid travel documents to enter a foreign country or to return to Canada;
  • not behave in a way that interferes with the flight or puts the safety of passengers and crew at risk; and
  • not miss the airline's deadlines.
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 Accessible transportation

Persons with disabilities have a fundamental right to an accessible federal transportation network.

We can help with concerns and complaints related to the accessibility of:

  • flights to, from, and within Canada, including connecting flights;
  • rail, ferry and bus carriers that operate between provinces or territories or between Canada and the United States;
  • airports, rail stations and ferry terminals located in Canada; or
  • services integral to the transportation services provided by an airline or terminal located in Canada.

For more information about the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations, visit the Canadian Transportation Agency's Accessible Transportation page.

File a complaint:

Accessibility complaints about transportation services

"" Human rights and discrimination

The CTA works together with other federal agencies that have a human rights mandate, such as the Canadian Human Rights Commission, to ensure that human rights related complaints be dealt with efficiently and expeditiously by the most appropriate organization.  

If you file a complaint with the CTA that involves a human rights issue experienced during your air travel, such as discrimination on the basis of race, gender identity or expression, or other prohibited grounds of discrimination and the CTA is not in a position to deal with it, the CTA may officially, or informally with your consent, refer your complaint to the most appropriate organisation.  

"" Airline customer service departments

Airline customer service issues such as food quality or staff courtesy are generally outside the purview of the CTA. If you have this type of issue, please contact your airline:

Airline customer service departments.

If you believe the airline's customer service issue has impacted your rights under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations, you can file a complaint with the CTA. If you believe it has impacted your right to accessible travel, you can find more information or file a complaint on the CTA's Accessible Transportation page.

 Lost, damaged or delayed baggage

If your bag is damaged or missing, contact your airline right away.

You must submit a written claim with your airline within 7 days of receipt of your baggage if it is damaged.

You must submit a claim within 21 days for baggage that is potentially lost.

Failure to submit a claim within the set time limits could result in the carrier denying your claim.

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 Seating of children under 14 with parent or guardian

Airlines must, at the earliest opportunity and at no extra cost, take steps to seat children under the age of 14 beside or near their parent, guardian or tutor, depending on their age.

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 Unaccompanied minors

Some airlines accept unaccompanied children aged 5 to 11 years and will escort them from check-in through to their arrival at the destination airport (usually for a fee). Be sure to consult your airline's terms and conditions before booking a flight for an unaccompanied minor.

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 Transportation of musical instruments

Airlines must include in their tariffs the terms and conditions of carriage regarding the transportation of musical instruments as checked or carry-on baggage. This includes:

  • weight, size and quantity restrictions;
  • cabin overhead bin or under seat storage options;
  • options in the event of aircraft downgrading; and
  • fees for transporting musical instruments.

Please consult your airline's tariff for transporting musical instruments.   

Reference: Airline obligations for transportation of musical instruments are set out in the Air Passenger Protection Regulations

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Airlines sometimes charge fees in order for passengers to change their flight and travel dates.

The availability of fares and flights continually changes. They are never guaranteed until you have paid in full.

Any time you buy an airline ticket, you should carefully review the details.

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A reservation is a record of the flights booked with your airline. Having a reservation does not automatically entitle the passenger to travel. When the airline receives payment, it issues a ticket linked to that reservation, which allows the passenger to travel.

You should carefully review the details of your reservations.

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 All-inclusive air price advertising

Advertising through any media must display air prices in an all-inclusive format for travel within or originating in Canada.

Air price advertising directed at the public must include the total price (including a breakdown of all taxes, fees and charges) and a description of the air service offered.

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 Other air traveller rights and information