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My flight was delayed or cancelled - what are my rights?

Many of us have been there: our flight has been delayed or even outright cancelled due to a host of issues.

If your flight is cancelled or delayed what are people really entitled to receive from the airline?

That is a tricky question. There is no specific law in Canada that requires an airline to refund a passenger for a flight cancellation or delay. However, there are things the airline has to do if there are problems with a flight due to no fault of the passenger.

Air carriers do not guarantee schedules and they will often not compensate people in situations of:

  • Unavoidable situations such as weather conditions; and
  • Missed connections when travelling on separate tickets issued by the same carrier or by one or more carriers.

Flight Rights Canada

In 2008, the government introduced a voluntary code of conduct for airlines. Those who agreed to sign on to the code have to adjust their tariffs in order to tackle flight delays, cancellations, and lost or damaged baggage.

So far, Air Canada, Air Transat and WestJet have joined the initiative.

The code also sets out what passengers’ rights are in regards to delay and in situations of flight cancellations among other things.

In the situation of flight cancellations, it states that the passenger should either be refunded for the unused portion of the ticket or that another flight has to be found for the customer.

My flight was delayed or cancelled, now what?

If your flight was cancelled, then the first point at which you should start is to look at the contract you have with the airline. What are they saying they have to do for you if your flight has been cancelled?

A person usually has the right to some type of remedy but the remedy often depends on the carrier.

For example, major domestic airlines have the policy that if you have been on a flight for more than 90 minutes you have the right to get off the plane, as long as it’s safe to do so.

Also, for lengthy delays many airlines are required to give you food or accommodation vouchers as well under their ticket agreement. Some airlines will even give you financial compensation for lengthy delays. Once again you have to look at the contract between you and the airlines and inform yourself of your entitlements in cases of delays or cancellation.

Secondly, every single airline has a “contract of carriage” which can be found on the company’s website. You should read it to find out what your rights and responsibilities are according to those terms.

You can also call the airline’s customer service number to find out what the airline will do for you if the flight has been cancelled or delayed.

What can I do if the airline refuses to refund my ticket or refused to accommodate me for delay?

If you feel that the airline did not comply with the terms and conditions or the contract of carriage, you can file a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency. However, the agency cannot force the carrier to pay you for your losses or apologize to you.

If you have been delayed or your flight has been cancelled and you weren’t compensated or feel you weren’t properly compensated, you should consult a lawyer.

Read more:

Air passenger rights Government of Canada

Fly Smart Government of Canada