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.
During all tarmac delays carriers must ensure passengers are given the following, free of charge:
- access to working washrooms;
- proper ventilation and heating or cooling;
- food and drink in reasonable quantities; and
- ways to communicate with people outside the plane, where feasible.
After a three-hour tarmac delay at a Canadian airport:
- The plane must return to the gate so that you can disembark, unless this is not possible, for safety, security, air traffic control or customs reasons.
- A plane can stay on the tarmac for up to 45 extra minutes if it is likely that it will take off within that period and the airline is able to continue providing the items listed above.
If a tarmac delay occurs after landing at a Canadian airport, a carrier must provide you an opportunity to disembark as soon as is feasible.
Tarmac Delay Standards of Treatment and Disembarkation: A Guide explains passenger rights and airline obligations during a tarmac delay. These apply to flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights. This guide also provides tips for managing common tarmac delay situations.
Types and Categories of Flight Disruption: A Guide explains the three categories of flight disruption included in the Air Passenger Protection Regulations: situations within the airline's control; situations within the airline's control but required for safety; and situations outside the airline's control.
Reference: Airline obligations for tarmac delays are set out in the Air Passenger Protection Regulations.