Compensation, rebooking and refunds based on airline size

Air Passenger Protection Regulations apply to both large and small airlines. However, different requirements apply to small airlines for: 

How airline size is determined

Large airlines within the meaning of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations are those that have carried more than two million passengers in each of the two preceding years. All other airlines are considered small.

  • Air Canada (including Jazz) and WestJet are currently large airlines.
  • Swoop and Flair Airlines are currently small airlines.

Since the classification is based on the number of passengers carried, some airlines that were previously classified as large are currently considered small due to the reduced number of passengers carried in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic. 

  • Sunwing Airlines, Air Transat and Porter were classified as large, but are currently considered small.

Small airlines carrying passengers for large airlines

If a small airline is carrying passengers on behalf of a large airline under a contract, they would have to follow the large carrier obligations for those passengers. This includes, for example, situations where a small airline is operating a flight, but some or all the passengers on the flight have bought the ticket from another large airline (code share or capacity purchase agreement).

Usually, the ticket and/or itinerary will show you which airline sold the ticket and which airline is operating the flight. You can tell who issued the ticket by looking at the first two letters of the flight number (these letters represent the unique two-letter code of the airline that sold the ticket).

Accessible transportation

The Canadian Transportation Agency has a mandate to protect the fundamental right of persons with disabilities to accessible transportation services. For issues relating to accessibility, the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations defines a large airline as an air carrier that provides passenger services within and to and from Canada and that transported a worldwide total of 1,000,000 passengers or more during each of the two preceding calendar years.