Air passenger rights

Know your rights

Your flight didn’t leave on time?

Your flight was cancelled?

You got bumped?

You arrived but your luggage didn't?

Most air travellers in Canada have problem-free flights. But if something goes wrong when you fly to, from or within Canada, you do have rights and it’s important that you know them. 

Video: Check-ins, bumping, delays and cancellations

Watch the video on check-ins, bumping, delays and cancellations for useful tips

Transcript: Check-ins, bumping, delays and cancellations

NARRATOR: There's a variety of reasons why you could end up missing your flight.

It could be that you were too late for your flight's check-in deadline.

It could be due to bad weather.

It could be that your flight is either delayed, overbooked or cancelled.

To know your rights and responsibilities, in any of these situations, it's best to get familiar with an airline's "tariff". You can find it on their web site or any place they do business.

A tariff is the airline's terms and conditions of carriage: your contract with the airline.

It contains information on the airline's legal obligations in cases of changes to their scheduled flights.

In those instances, airlines might offer you a refund or rebook you. But you shouldn't automatically assume that they will. An airline's legal obligation will vary depending on the circumstances.

If you miss your airline's check-in deadline, the airline can refuse to transport you.

Airlines have strict deadlines. Being late at the check-in or even the baggage drop-off area can result in your reserved seat being reassigned or your reservation being cancelled and you missing your flight.

Check-in times for domestic and international flights are different and vary depending on the airline.

With most airlines, you may be able to check-in online, usually 24 hours before your flight leaves. But you still have a deadline to arrive at the gate for your flight and to check in your baggage.

If you're not sure, check with the airline and find out about the terms and conditions that apply to your ticket.

The Canadian Transportation Agency also has useful tips and tools for travelers that can help.

It's an easy way to reduce the risk of missing your flight.

Fly Smart. Know Your Rights & Responsibilities.

Guiding principles

Air passengers in Canada deserve easy access to clear information about their rights.

These rights are set out in the airline’s “tariff.” A tariff is its contract with passengers. It contains terms and conditions about how the airline will deal with issues like denied boarding, delays, cancellations, passenger re-routing, and lost or damaged baggage.

Air carriers must:

Flight Rights Canada

In 2008, the Government of Canada introduced Flight Rights Canada (FRC), an air passenger rights initiative that included a voluntary code of conduct for airlines.

In 2009, Canada’s largest carriers – Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat – agreed to the code and adjusted their tariffs to address flight and tarmac delays, cancellations, overbooking, and lost or damaged baggage.

The complaints process

The Canadian Transportation Agency, backed by the terms of the Canada Transportation Act, makes sure that carriers fully respect the rights of air travellers and that they keep their promises.

The Agency helps air passengers in two primary ways:

    1. It offers informal dispute resolution processes, which include facilitation and mediation services, for passengers who are not satisfied with how a carrier dealt with their issue such as lost baggage or cancelled flights. After first trying to resolve their issues with the carrier and giving them 30 days to respond, passengers can file a complaint with the Agency through its Air travel complaints form.
    2. It offers a court-like complaint process for passengers who want to challenge a carrier’s policies (tariff provisions) as being unclear, unreasonable or discriminatory, for such things as compensation when they are denied boarding or are not adequately informed of changes in flight schedules.

To learn more, consult the Agency's air complaints section.

You can contact the Agency by calling 1-888-222-2592 or by email at

Video: Facilitation Process

Watch the video to view options on how to resolve common air travel issues

Transcript: Facilitation process

Unfortunately, sometimes your travel arrangements don't always go as planned. And if you feel you have a real issue to take up with your airline, you want to be heard, you want action, and you want resolution.

So what are your options? First of all, be informed before you travel. The Canadian Transportation Agency offers handy tools to help you prepare your trip, including its Fly Smart guide and links to major airlines' tariffs.

An airline's tariff lists your rights and responsibilities as a passenger, as well as those of the airline. It's your contract when you buy your airline ticket.

It's important to remember that tariffs vary from airline to airline. In other words, one airline might address a complaint differently from another airline.

But if after reviewing your airline's tariff, you feel that it hasn't kept its end of the bargain, the fastest way to reach a solution is to first give them a chance to address your complaint.

Before we can help, contact your airline in writing and allow it 30 days to respond in writing.

If the airline does not respond or if you are not satisfied, the Canadian Transportation Agency may be able to help. We are experts at resolving air travel complaints for travel within, to and from Canada.

We can help air travellers resolve complaints on issues like flight disruptions and delays, lost, delayed or damaged, baggage, or denied boarding or bumping due to overbooking.

Our Complaint Wizard guides you quickly through the complaint process from A to Z. It explains how we can help.

And our service standards for resolving your complaint.

First, we'll try facilitating your complaint. It's fast and easy, the vast majority of complaints are resolved this way.

If facilitation doesn't resolve the issue, you can try mediation, where one of our trained mediators will aim to help you and the airline reach a confidential settlement.

Where less formal processes don't prove successful, we also offer a court-like process called adjudication, where a panel will make a decision based on the evidence presented.

Ultimately, our job is to make sure that the airline has applied the terms and conditions of carriage of the contract and that both you and the airline have met your end of the bargain.

Of course, remember that the best way to avoid issues is to get informed before you travel.

Fly Smart. Know Your Rights & Responsibilities.

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