Check Compensation
New Funding for CTA to Resolve Compensation Claims Faster


Are you waiting to hear back from the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) about a flight compensation claim? If you are, you’re not alone. Many travelers that file claims with the CTA end up waiting months for their claim to be reviewed – but there’s help on the way.

In March of last year, the Minister of Transport announced new funding that will help the CTA process passenger compensation claims more quickly. The CTA has already started using the funding to ramp up their processes and resources to deal with the giant backlog they’re facing.

Below, we’ll explain all about the CTA’s new Complaint Resolution Office process that aims to shorten the complaint resolution process to 90 days from start to finish. But first, here’s some background on what the regulations are, why there’s a backlog, and how the laws might change.

A brief background on Air Passenger Protection Regulations

The CTA was established over a century ago, but they’ve been in the news more lately due to Canada’s relatively new Air Passenger Protection Regulations. This is the law that holds airlines accountable for payouts when flights are delayed or cancelled due to reasons within the airline’s control.

Under the law, passengers can be entitled to up to $2,400 CAD for flight delays of 9 hours or more, as well as compensation for cancellations and reimbursement for meals and lodging during delays. That is, as long as the delays are the fault of the airline and not due to a situation outside of their control.

Whether or not a situation is within an airline’s control can be tricky to determine, especially when laws are still new. But this law may also be set to change, along with their process for handling payouts.

How Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations might change

Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations were introduced in 2019. The CTA is still ironing out the details as more passengers become aware of the law and more complaints are rolling in.

Every passenger claim is slightly different, and many cases bring up questions about how to interpret the laws, with pushback from airlines and passengers alike. Many airlines have claimed that flight disruptions were for safety issues, when really a delay or cancellation was something they could have prevented.

For example, when an airplane has a mechanical issue, was it a manufacturer’s defect or due to a lack of routine maintenance? It can be tough to say.

That led to the Canadian government’s pushback last year on the exemption for safety issues. Under a modified law, airlines would have to prove that the safety issue was outside of their control – so mechanical issues would no longer be a valid reason to deny passengers compensation.

Airlines have argued that this might compromise flight safety, but a similar EU law has been in place since 2005 with no adverse effects. It’s based on similar concepts about passenger’s rights in the face of delays and cancellations and has narrower rules around safety issues that airlines are allowed to claim to exempt them from paying compensation.

Since the EU law has been around for a while, passenger claims are also likely to be processed much more quickly.

Why is there a passenger claims backlog at the CTA?

A year after Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations were introduced, the pandemic hit. That caused more flight disruptions, and even more complaints to be lodged with the CTA, adding to the backlog.

Right now, there are over 60,000 complaints that are still awaiting resolution by the CTA. In the summer of last year, CityNews reported that estimated wait times for case resolutions were 18 months. Our research suggests that at the current rate, it could take up to 7 years to clear the backlog, especially as more complaints continue to flood in.

How the new funding will help the CTA with the complaints backlog

However, Canadian passengers are in luck. With an investment of almost $76 million over the next three years, the Minister of Transport hopes to help speed up the process at the CTA.

In a press release about the funding, Minister Alghabra stated, “Since 2019, our government has consistently allocated more resources to the CTA to facilitate the implementation of the Passenger Bill of Rights. However, it's evident that even more resources are now required to address the backlog.”

The funding is aimed at enhancing procedures at the CTA and adding more people to the team to help process complaints.

The CTA has already used some of the funding to create a new complaint resolution process. Plans are already in motion to add another 200 employees to help speed up the claims process, with 100 vacant Complaint Resolution Officer positions added to the CTA in August.

This will help with the 8,640 cases the CTA processes annually, which have been increasing steadily as more passengers come forward. The CTA has also made changes to their complaint resolution process to speed it up and help passengers get the money they’re entitled to faster.

What the new complaint resolution process looks like

The CTA’s new complaint resolution process, introduced in September, aims to shorten the resolution time to 90 days or less as soon as the claim is reviewed. Here’s how it works:

1. Passenger submits the form: the passenger submits their complaint along with all the relevant supporting documents, such as boarding passes and receipts. Their submission is put into a queue to start the complaint resolution process.

2. Complaint resolution start notice: the CTA sends a “Start Notice” to both the passenger and the airline. This starts the 90-day countdown to a final decision.

3. Airline answer and passenger reply: The airline has a 14-day window to respond to the passenger claim with their own information and documents. After that, the CTA will notify the passengers, and they’ll have a 4-day window to submit a reply.

4. Eligibility review: given the details, the CTA will determine whether the complaint is eligible for compensation.

5. Informal resolution: this is an optional step which has to happen within 30 days of the start notice. If the passenger and airline agree to an informal resolution, then the passenger withdraws their complaint, and the process ends.

6. Final decision: The CTA will make a final decision on whether or not the airline owes the passenger compensation, based on their review.

This new process will apply to all previously submitted complaints, except for the ones that started adjudication before September 30, 2023.

It’s a big step towards speeding up the complaints process. But although this shortens the review and decision process to 90 days, for now there will still be delays between the time a passenger submits a claim and the complaint resolution start notice, especially with a large backlog remaining.

Why the wait might be worth it: two CTA rulings

In spite of the fact that you’ll still have to wait a bit if you have a claim, there’s good reason to submit one. Below, we’ll briefly cover two stories of passengers who submitted claims and got compensated for their flight delays.

Multiple flight delays on a trip to Morocco

Passengers travelling from Montréal to Agadir, Morocco in August 2020 discovered their flight was cancelled and replaced with a new one when they showed up to the gate.

The new flight was scheduled to leave two hours earlier, but the airline had computer issues and wasn’t able to confirm their connecting flight – so they weren’t able to arrive at the new gate on time.

The airline rescheduled their flight, but they had to wait another day, eventually reaching Agadir 20 hours later than they’d originally planned. On their return flight in September, their flight was replaced by another flight that left a day earlier. They were notified only three days in advance.

They filed a claim with the CTA seeking compensation for their ticket prices, arguing that the airline failed to inform them about the changes in a timely manner.

The airline cited government-mandated suspensions of international flights during Covid-19, and claimed the passengers were informed about the changes and should have been more proactive about checking their flight statuses.

But there wasn’t evidence to prove any prior communication about the flight, indicating that the travelers were indeed caught off-guard by the cancellations. They were entitled to compensation totaling 4,000 for the four outbound tickets they bought.

Denied boarding on the way to Mexico City

Another passenger booked a trip from Montréal to Mexico City in February 2020, but was denied boarding because the flight was overbooked. The airline offered him alternate travel arrangements and a $500 USD travel credit, but the passenger sought compensation from the CTA for the inconvenience of the travel disruption.

In this case, the airline didn’t respond to the claim at all. That meant there was no evidence to suggest that there was an alternate explanation.

Since there wasn’t official documentation to record the passenger’s exact arrival time, the CTA went with the time on the boarding pass. The delay, which was 8 hours and 29 minutes long, entitled the passenger to $1,800.

How to boost your chances of getting your claim

You might think that the facts are enough to ensure your chances of getting a claim compensated. But what the CTA really needs is evidence to verify those facts – so collecting the proper documentation is the first step towards a successful claim.

Make sure you save all the documentation

Since airlines don’t always even respond to CTA claims, your documents might be the only evidence the CTA has. Here are a few important rules of thumb:

  • Always note the time you board the plane, the time you take off, and your arrival time. This might be different than what’s on your boarding pass – and if you’re eligible for compensation, it could make a difference of $300 or more.
  • Save meal receipts if your flight delay is more than two hours. Any meals you need to purchase because you’re stuck at the airport might be eligible for compensation, as long as they’re reasonable and proportionate to the delay.
  • Don’t feel pressured to take gift vouchers if you don’t want them. Some airlines hand out vouchers for free travel in lieu of compensation, but if your flight is delayed by more than three hours, you may be eligible for compensation.

Also save any communications you get about the reason for your flight delay. It’s the airline’s responsibility to give you a valid reason for the delay and communicate updates to your flight status in a timely manner.

Make a claim under EU law if it’s applicable to your flight

If you’re flying from an EU airport to a Canadian one, you’re also covered under EU passenger protection laws. But you can only make a claim with one transportation authority. That means if you file a claim with the CTA, you can’t also file a claim with the EU.

When your flight from the EU to Canada is delayed or cancelled, it’s up to you to choose which one to file a claim with.

Since EU law has been around longer, it has more established standards for what constitutes a situation outside of an airline’s control. You’ll be more likely to get paid for your claim faster if you file a claim with the EU because there are processes in place that have been around for almost 20 years.

Talk to an expert if you think you have a claim

Many Canadian travelers still don’t know they have passenger protection rights at all. And even when you know your rights, it can be tough to navigate the bureaucracy of trying to submit a claim.

That’s where Click2Refund can help. When you submit a claim, our experts make it a one-stop experience. We handle the negotiations, paperwork, and communication with airlines on a no-win-no-fee basis – meaning we only take a fee from you if we win your case.

And we make sure to stay on top of the changing laws, so we’ll be able to tell you what new laws might apply as they come out.

Save time (and stress) by making us your partner for airline compensation. Get started today in minutes with our flight delay compensation calculator to find out how much you might be entitled to!

Written by: Click2Refund