What passengers need to know about delays, cancellations and missing baggage

In this document, you will find information about:

In addition to this information, you should note that the airline must also follow:

 

Key Information

If your flight is delayed or cancelled:

  • Take note of:
    • what you have been told by the airline;
    • how much time has passed since the departure time on your ticket;
    • what time you arrived at your destination; and,
    • reasons for the delay/cancellation.
  • Keep copies of:
    • your ticket;
    • any notifications from the airline; and,
    • any receipts if you purchase goods or services (e.g. meals, hotel accommodation, taxis, etc.)
  • Remember that airlines must try to minimize the impact that the delay or cancellation has on you and your travel. Depending on the reason for the delay or cancellation, this could include:
    • rebooking or a refund;
    • assistance (food and drinks, access to means of communication and hotel or other accommodation); and,
    • compensation for inconvenience.

If your baggage is delayed, damaged or lost:

  • keep copies of your baggage information and baggage tag.
  • file a written claim with your airline within the required time limits:
    • 7 days after receiving damaged baggage;
    • 21 days after receiving your baggage that has been delayed; or
    • as soon as possible if your baggage has been delayed for 21 days or more (considered lost).
  • remember that airlines have certain obligations when your baggage is lost, damaged or delayed:
    • they must compensate you for any fees paid for baggage services; and,
    • they may be required to compensate you up to $2300 for items you need replaced.

If you believe that the airline did not follow its obligations, make a complaint in writing to the airline as soon as possible. If you are not satisfied with the airline's response to your complaint or request for compensation, or have not received a response within 30 days, you can make a complaint with the CTA.

Your flight is delayed or cancelled

What you should do

Be aware that delays and cancellations are often complex. What happened and what you are entitled to can sometimes only be confirmed after your travel journey is over, after contacting the airline, or after making a complaint to the Agency. In the meantime, here are tips on what you should do:

  • check your airline’s website for any new notifications and register for text alerts with your airline to stay informed;
  • take note of what the airline says caused the delay or cancellation, or ask the airline's representative. Ask them whether the delay or cancellation is:
  • ask the airline's representative what you are entitled to. This could include:
    • rebooking or a refund;
    • assistance (food and drinks, access to means of communication and hotel or other accommodation and transportation to/from); and,
    • compensation for your inconvenience.
  • keep the paper or electronic copies of your ticket and of any notifications from the airline;
  • if you purchase goods or services (e.g. meals, hotel accommodation, taxis, etc.), keep all your receipts. You may be entitled to a reimbursement of these expenses if the airline has failed to meet its obligations towards you;
  • keep track of how much time has passed since the departure time on your original ticket, and take note of what time you arrive at your destination;
  • if you believe you did not receive what you are entitled to, make a complaint in writing to the airline as soon as possible;
  • if you arrive late at your destination by 3 hours or more, and believe the flight disruption was within the airline's control (NOT within the airline's control but required for safety, make a request for compensation in writing to the airline as soon as possible, and within 1 year of the delay or cancellation. Remember that the airline has 30 days to respond; and,
  • if you are not satisfied with the airline's response to your complaint or request for compensation, or have not received a response within 30 days, you can make a complaint with the CTA.

Remember:

  • in response to airport congestion and the pandemic, it is now more important than ever to arrive at the airport early;
  • check your travel documents for check-in, baggage drop-off and boarding deadlines. Make sure you set aside enough time to go through security and meet these deadlines;
  • checking-in online is faster than at the airport;
  • it is your responsibility to obtain and show all required travel documentation, which should be updated well ahead of time (e. g. passport, visas, etc.);
  • check your airline’s website and travel.gc.ca often for any new notifications; and,
  • register for text alerts with your airline to stay informed of flight changes and cut-off times.

Your rights

When an airline delays or cancels a flight, what you are entitled to depends on the level of control that the airline has over the reason for the delay or cancellation. The situation can either be within the airline's control, within the airline's control but required for safety, or outside the airline's control.

Communication

In all situations, the airline has to give you information about:

  • why your flight was delayed/cancelled;
  • what assistance they have to give you, if any;
  • whether you may be entitled to compensation for your inconvenience; and,
  • what recourse is available to you, including your recourse to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).

Any new information has to be communicated by the airline as soon as possible. During a delay, the airline must provide regular flight status updates every 30 minutes until a new departure time has been confirmed.

Assistance (food and drinks, access to means of communication and hotel or other accommodation)

The airline must provide assistance, if:

Assistance includes:

  • food and drinks in reasonable quantities;
  • access to means of communication, like Wifi or a telephone; and,
  • hotel or other accommodation, and transportation to/from the hotel or other accommodation, IF the delay or cancellation requires you to wait overnight.

Rebooking

In all situations, the airline has to rebook you on another flight if your original flight is delayed for 3 hours or more or is cancelled. The details of the new flight depend on the reason for the delay or cancellation and the size of the airline.

Refund

You may be entitled to a full or partial refund if:

The airline is not required to provide refunds if the delay or cancellation was outside its control.

Compensation for inconvenience

The airline must pay you compensation for your inconvenience if:

  • your flight was delayed for 3 hours or more or was cancelled;
  • the flight disruption is fully within the airline's control (NOT within the airline's control but required for safety);
  • you were informed of the delay or cancellation 14 days or less before the departure time on your original ticket;
  • you arrived late at your destination by 3 hours or more; and,
  • you made a request for compensation to the airline within 1 year of the delay or cancellation.

The amount of compensation owed depends on how late you arrived at destination and on the size of the airline. You may be eligible to receive compensation even if your flight was refunded by the airline.

The airline may offer you a travel credit instead of cash, but only if certain conditions are met by the airline. It is entirely up to you to accept travel credit or not.

The airline will not pay the compensation immediately. They will only do so after they receive your request and if they determine that the flight disruption was fully within its control. The airline has 30 days to respond to your request.

The airline is not required to pay compensation if the flight disruption is within its control but required for safety or outside its control.

For more information about flight delays and cancellations, see Flight Delays and Cancellations: A Guide.

Your baggage is lost, damaged or delayed

What you should do

From the start of your trip, you should:

  • make a list of items in your baggage;
  • have your contact information attached to your baggage;
  • keep handy your baggage ticket and details; and,
  • be able to provide a detailed description of your baggage (you may even want to take a picture of your baggage if you have a mobile phone).

If your baggage has been lost, damaged or delayed, you should:

  • check with airline representatives in the baggage claim area;
  • prepare a description of your baggage and its contents.
  • file a written claim with your airline within the required time limits, and ask the airline what they are doing to get your baggage to you as soon as possible.
  • ask the airline what expenses they will cover to help you in your situation; and,
  • keep your receipts for any expenses that you have to pay to temporarily (or permanently) replace the items that were in your baggage.

If you are not satisfied with the airline's response to your claim, or you haven’t received a response within 30 days, you can make a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency.

Filing a claim

If your baggage has been lost, damaged or delayed, you must submit a claim to your airline in writing within:

  • 7 days after receiving damaged baggage;
  • 21 days after receiving your baggage that has been delayed; or
  • as soon as possible if your baggage has been delayed for 21 days or more (considered lost).

If you don't submit a claim within these time limits, the airline could deny your claim.

Your rights

The airline must refund any fees you had to pay for baggage services if your baggage has been lost, damaged or delayed. These could include:

  • standard baggage fees;
  • fees for extra baggage; and/or
  • fees for oversized and/or overweight baggage.

If your baggage is lost or damaged while in the airline's control, the airline must compensate you up to $2300 to replace items that were lost or damaged. The airline does not have to compensate you if the damage resulted from the quality of your baggage.

If your baggage is delayed, the airline must compensate you up to $2300 for items you may need until your baggage is returned to you. The airline does not have to compensate you if it took all reasonable measures to avoid the issue or if it was impossible for them to take these measures.

You may have to explain why the expenses you are claiming were reasonable in your situation. For example, $500 to replace $20 running shoes would not be considered reasonable.

You will likely have to provide receipts for the replacement items. Make sure you keep them.

For more information about lost, damaged or delayed baggage, see Baggage Requirements for Domestic Services: A Guide and Limits of liability for passengers and goods.

 

This is not a legal document. The explanations it provides are for information purposes only. Airline obligations can be found in the Air Passenger Protection Regulations. In case of differences between this document and legislation or regulations, the legislation and regulations prevail.

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