Travel Tips: What Are Your Passenger Rights in Canada?

Do you know what you’re entitled to if your bags are lost, your flight is delayed or cancelled? We break it down for you.

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You’re all set for vacation… bring on the sand and sun! You get to the airport and those vacation excitements vanish as you find that your flight is majorly delayed, or even worse, cancelled. What do you do? What are you entitled to? We dig up what this means for you as a Canadian passenger.

The answer really depends on WHY your flight was delayed or cancelled. Was it a weather delay, or a mechanical issue? And WHICH airline you’re flying with?

Before you even go on vacation, check each airline’s rules published on their websites. These are labelled “customer service plan” or “customer care plan” on most airline sites. It’s the law that airlines must clearly state on their website what happens if the airline loses your bag, you’re involuntarily delayed or cancelled, and even what happens if you voluntarily choose not to board.

While there are slight differences between each airline, most often, you’ll find the following rights listed:

  • If there is a weather delay, the airline may compensate you with a hotel discount rate, meal vouchers and booking on another flight. These are dependent on the length of the delay and the airline. For example, WestJet will offer you a meal voucher if the delay is three or more hours. Meal and hotel vouchers, plus airport transfers if the delay is eight or more hours and you’re not in your home city.
  • If your flight is cancelled due to an issue within the airline’s control (i.e. a mechanical issue), you are likely entitled to rebooking at no charge, plus meals and hotel accommodations depending on the length of the delay. For instance, Air Canada will offer meal vouchers, airport transfers as well as hotel accommodations if your rescheduled flight is the next day.
  • Sunwing, on the other hand, offers passengers with a 12 hour or longer delay hotel accommodations and a $150 travel voucher per paying passenger toward future travel with Sunwing or Sunwing Experiences, or the option to cancel your holiday and receive a full refund within seven days.
  • It’s important to note: If the airline is not meeting the standards set on their website, you can contact the Canadian Transport Agency on the Transport Canada website for assistance in getting the compensation you’re entitled to. You must first try and address the issue with the airline and have proof of that. Canada Transport Agency can only help out-of-pocket expenses, not pain and suffering (i.e. loss of employment, money lost from a missed meeting, etc.).

The best thing to do is be prepared. Do your research and find out what your options are, what the airline offers before you fly to make sure you know what you’re entitled to.

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