Under the new Canadian Air Passenger Bill of Rights - much of which came into effect earlier this year in July - you now have a new set of rights if your flight is cancelled or delayed. These apply to every flight (domestic or international) either departing from or arriving at any Canadian airport. Airlines now have new obligations they must fulfill if your flight is cancelled or delayed and it’s caused by a factor under their control. Here’s a rundown of the new information. These rules will come into effect in December this year.
If your flight is cancelled or delayed and it’s for a reason within the airline’s control, you’re entitled to financial compensation. The amount varies based on how long it takes you to actually reach your destination in comparison to your booked schedule, as well as the size of the airline. Here’s a rundown of the tiers:
- Between 3 and 6 hours’ delay: C$400
- Between 6 and 9 hours’ delay: C$700
- Over 9 hours’ delay: C$1000
- Between 0 and 6 hours’ delay: C$125
- Between 6 and 9 hours’ delay: C$250
- Over 9 hours’ delay: C$500
A compensation claim must be submitted to the airline within one year of the departure date. Once it’s submitted, airlines have 30 days to either provide a statement explaining why they think no compensation is warranted or to issue payment. If they don’t want to compensate in monetary form, they need to offer something of equivalent value that can never expire. You are free to to choose either monetary payment or offered benefit. Always make sure that any non-monetary compensation offered equals cash. Airlines are known to offer rewards or vouchers that are actually far lower in value or expire quickly. There's nothing like cash, in our opinion.
Should your flight be delayed for over 2 hours - and, again, the reasons are within the airline’s control - then the airline has a responsibility to provide care to you. This involves the following things:
- Food and drink in reasonable quantities
- Electronic means of communication (free WiFi or similar)
If the delay is extended overnight, then the airline must provide accommodation to you at a hotel or comparable. Naturally, this will happen at no cost for you. The airline also has to provide transport for you to your accommodation, again free of charge.
If your flight is cancelled or delayed, it’s the airline’s responsibility - and only the airline’s responsibility - to make sure that you reach your destination within reason. If your flight is delayed for more than three hours, the airline must work to rebook you on its next available flight. That doesn’t have to be a factor within the airline’s control, but it naturally must be something you didn’t cause yourself (incorrect travel documents, belligerence, et cetera).
If your flight is disrupted for reasons within the airline’s control, you have extra rights. Here they are:
- Large airlines: must book you on their next available flight. If they don’t have one, or if their next flight departs 9 or more hours after your departure time, they must book you on a competing airline’s next available flight.
- All airlines: must book you on the same service class. If the rebooking doesn’t meet your needs, then you’ll be entitled to a full refund for your ticket as well as the bottom compensation tier for both airlines.