Compensation Rules for Delayed Flights Land on Time

Have plans to fly this holiday season? Canadians can relax knowing they will receive compensation up to $1,000 if things go awry and their flight is delayed or cancelled.

The second phase of Canada’s federal air passenger regulations detailing compensation for passengers goes into effect on December 15. Introduced by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), the rules within the Air Passenger Protection Regulations – commonly referred to as the passenger bill of rights – apply to both large and small airlines operating domestically or internationally whether they are Canadian or not.

The first phase of the CTA’s rules, introduced July 15, requires airlines to compensate travellers up to $2,100 for lost or damaged luggage, and up to $2,400 for rebooking passengers for reasons within the airline's control.

Airlines do not have to compensate passengers if a flight is cancelled or delayed because of a mechanical-related issue with the airplane or poor weather conditions.

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Compensation Details

If you are eligible for compensation, the amount you may receive depends on the length of the delay. For large airlines such as Air Canada and WestJet, they will compensate passengers to the tune of:

  • $400 for delays of three to six hours
  • $700 for delays of seven to nine hours
  • $1,000 for delays of nine or more hours

For smaller airlines like Swoop or Porter, they will be responsible for compensating passengers:

  • $125 for delays of three to six hours
  • $250 for delays of seven to nine hours
  • $500 for delays of nine or more hours

If the delay is two hours or more, the airline must provide refreshments in "reasonable quantities" and an electronic means of communication (such as Wi-Fi). If your flight is rescheduled to another date, airlines must provide free accommodations and transportation to and from wherever you spend the night.

But take note: the onus is on you, the passenger, to contact your airline to file a claim if you believe you qualify for compensation.

Customers have one year to file a claim after a delayed flight, and the airlines must respond in 30 days. The airline also has options. It can either pay the customer or inform them why they aren't eligible for compensation. Moreover, airlines may offer flight vouchers instead of cash, but passengers have the right to select the form of compensation.

What Your Options Are If You Get Bumped

Airlines that delay or bump their passengers must ensure their customers reach their final destination. If the original flight is delayed at least three hours, the operating airline must rebook the passenger on the next available flight in the same class of service.

If the delay reaches nine or more hours, the airline must rebook the customer on another airline, even if the alternative airline is a competitor.

If the rebooking options don’t jive with your travel plans (based on your itinerary and flight connections), you can request a full refund, as well as additional compensation of $125 from small airlines and $400 from large airlines.

Travel with Confidence

No matter where you travel to, it’s wise to ensure you have travel insurance any time you leave your province to cover you in the unfortunate event you are injured or fall ill. It’s worthwhile to note many travel insurance policies also provide additional compensation for lost baggage, delayed flights, and cancelled trips.

Shop around for the coverage you need at the right price before you take off.

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