Flight Delay Compensation Canada: How to Claim

This article has been reviewed by a licensed lawyer Anton Radchenko for general accuracy. This is for informational purposes only.
Last Updated:

a woman standing in an airport in Canada looking at a board of delayed flights

Air travel can be a convenient and efficient way to get from one place to another, but it can also be frustrating when things don't go as planned. One of the most common issues that travellers face is flight delays, which can cause them to miss connections, lose time, and incur additional expenses. However, in Canada, passengers have certain rights regarding flight delays, and they may be entitled to compensation from the airline.

This article explores flight delay compensation in Canada and offers insight on how to make a compensation claim. It explains the air passenger rights in Canada applicable in cases of delayed flights and what kind of flight compensation Canada permits by law.

We will also discuss the process for making a claim, including the documentation you must provide and the steps to navigate the process. Whether you're a frequent traveller or just planning a one-time trip, this article will provide you with the knowledge and resources you need to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve.

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Passenger Rights in Case of Flight Delay Compensation in Canada

In Canada, air passengers have certain rights when their flights are delayed, cancelled, or overbooked under the Canadian Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR), which took effect in 2019.

Besides these regulations, Canadian travellers can benefit from a more generous EU air passenger rights (refer to our guide EU 261 Compensation Explained”) and UK Flight Delay Compensation Regulations, which kicks in in two scenarios:

  • flights departing from EU (any carrier)
  • flights to EU on EU airlines (e.g., Air France flight from Toronto to Paris is covered, but if you flew on Air Canada EU Compensation would not apply).

Under the Canadian law, you have the right to be informed of the reason behind the flight delay, the estimated departure time, and any updates or changes to the schedule. You may be entitled to monetary compensation if the delay is longer than three hours and is within the carrier's control (such as a mechanical issue). The amount of payout depends on the length of the delay (read How Much Compensation You Can Get below).

If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to either a flight refund of the ticket price or alternate travel arrangements, like a rebooking on the next available flight, depending on your preference. In addition, you may be entitled to cancelled flight compensation if the cancellation was within the carrier's control. The compensation for cancelled flights depends on the length of the delay, similar to flight delay compensation.

It's important to note that these rights only apply to flights departing from or arriving in Canada or flights operated by Canadian airlines (both large and small airlines). If your flight is operated by a foreign airline departing from a foreign country, the airline's home country laws may apply. To learn more about this check our flight delay compensation article. 

a pile of Canadian money

How Much Compensation You Can Get for Delayed Flights in Canada

The compensation you can get for a delayed or cancelled flight in Canada depends on the delay's length at arrival at their final destination. The Canadian Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) outline specific financial compensation levels for flight delays and cancellations within a carrier's control.

Flight Delay (Hours)

Small Airline ($CAD)

Large Airline ($CAD)

0-6

125

400

6-9

250

700

9+

500

1,000

 

Passengers who choose to take a ticket refund instead of alternate flight arrangements must still receive compensation for inconvenience if the disruption was within the airline’s control. Large airlines must pay them a minimum of $400 and small airlines, $125.

Suppose the airline offers you alternative travel arrangements that depart up to two hours before the scheduled departure time and arrives less than four hours after the scheduled arrival time. In that case, the received compensation levels may be reduced by 50%. 

If your flight was delayed with an EU airline, you can use our flight compensation calculator to determine these figures in seconds for EU flight compensation.

 

Flight Delay Compensation: which flights are covered

Canadian law protects passengers on flights departing from or arriving in Canada and flights operated by Canadian airlines. If you are flying with a Canadian airline or departing from or arriving in Canada, you are covered under Canadian law in case of a flight delay or cancellation. For example, and Air Canada flight from Toronto to Montreal is covered by Canadian law. The same law applies to connecting flights as well.

However, suppose you are flying from Canada to the European Union (EU) or the United Kingdom (UK). In that case, you may also be covered under the flight delay compensation law in the EU or the UK flight delay compensation law, respectively. These laws protect passengers on flights departing from or arriving in EU countries or the UK, regardless of the airline's country of origin.

Under the EU air passenger rights law, you may be entitled to compensation if your flight is delayed for three hours or more. The compensation levels are similar to those under Canadian law, depending on the delay length and the flight distance.

Similarly, the UK flight delay compensation law compensates passengers if their flight is delayed by three hours or more and the delay is within the airline's control. The compensation levels under UK law are also similar to those under Canadian and EU law.

Note that Airlines are required to provide certain basic services such as food, drinks, and accommodation if you have to wait overnight for the next flight.

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What Airlines Can You Claim Flight Delay Compensation From

Passengers on any Canadian airline, including Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, Porter Airlines, Flair Airlines, and others, are eligible for compensation in case of flight disruptions.

 

Air Canada Flight Delay Compensation Claim

Air Canada is the largest airline in Canada and operates a significant portion of the country's domestic and international flights. As a result, many passengers flying within Canada or to/from Canada are likely to encounter it as their airline. While Air Canada strives to provide reliable and timely service, flight delays and cancellations can still occur. If you experience a flight disruption, you can expect to claim Air Canada delayed flight compensation under the APPR or EU/UK laws for EU/UK flight disruptions.

Air Canada logo 

 

WestJet Flight Delay Compensation Claim

WestJet is another major Canadian airline that operates both domestic and international flights. While not as large as Air Canada, WestJet is still a significant player in the Canadian airport industry and is often the airline of choice for budget-conscious travellers. If you experience a flight delay, you might be entitled to a WestJet flight delay compensation under the APPR or EU/UK regulations for EU/UK flight delays.

WestJet logo

 

Sunwing Flight Delay Compensation Claim

Sunwing, a Canadian leisure airline that specializes in vacation packages, is also subject to the APPR. Passengers flying with this airline are entitled to Sunwing flight delay compensation if their flight is delayed or cancelled within the carrier's control.

Sunwing logo

 

Porter Airlines Flight Delay Compensation Claim

Porter Airlines is a regional Canadian airline that operates flights primarily to and from cities in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. While not as well-known as Air Canada or WestJet, Porter is still an important player in the Canadian airline industry and is subject to the same regulations as other Canadian airlines. If you experience a flight delay or cancellation with Porter, you are entitled to compensation under the APPR.

 

Flair Airlines Flight Delay Compensation Claim

Flair Airlines is a low-cost Canadian airline that operates domestic and international flights. While not as large as Air Canada or WestJet, Flair has grown in popularity recently, especially among budget-conscious travellers and is also subject to the APPR allowing you to claim compensation for its flight disruptions.

a typewriter with a page inside it that has the word cancel spelled on it

When an Airline Doesn’t Have to Pay Compensation

Under Canadian law, airlines are not required to compensate passengers for

  • flight delays or cancellations caused by factors outside of the airline's control, known as "extraordinary circumstances." 
  • Flight delays within the airlines' control but required for safety.

 

Pro Tip: Canadian airlines tend to manipulate facts to escape liability to pay compensation, trying to rely on safety reasons when none exist. So it is important to get information about why disruption happened.

Extraordinary circumstances include severe weather conditions, natural disasters, air traffic control restrictions, security threats, and unexpected medical emergencies. And safety problems may include issues with the engines, avionics, or other critical systems.

Pro Tip: Canadian regulations allow airlines to escape liability referring to airlines’ technical issues as safety related concerns, while EU and UK regulations specifically take the opposite approach. Courts in Europe repeatedly recognized that technical issues are within airlines control and they cannot rely on their own problems to justify delays. It is very important to try to claim compensation under EU or UK laws to increase your chances. 

 

Airline Crew Shortages is it a valid defense to Flight Delay Compensation Claims?

Airline staff shortage or crew shortage as per UK/EU is not extraordinary circumstance, but as per Canadian regulations it is extraordinary circumstance as long as airlines can provide evidence that reserve crews were depleted or information about unexpected or unplanned changes to the airline's workforce which may have impacted the availability of replacement crew.

The determination of whether a situation qualifies as an extraordinary circumstance can be subjective, and some airlines may try to avoid paying compensation by claiming extraordinary circumstances when they do not apply.

If you believe your flight delay or cancellation was not caused by an extraordinary circumstance, you can file a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency CTA, which is a reliable Canadian airline passenger rights advocate. The agency will investigate the matter and determine whether compensation is warranted.

However, the Canadian Transportation Agency CTA is a government agency and, as such, it is extremely busy. So, chances are that you might have to wait for a long time before they get to your case. On the other hand, by using a service such as AirAdvisor you will get a legal expert to work your case much faster. 

 

How to Make a Flight Delay Compensation Claim in Canada and EU/UK

If you experience a flight delay or cancellation and believe you are entitled to compensation, the first step is to contact the airline directly. You can do this either at the airport or by calling the airline's customer service line. The airline will provide you with information on their compensation process and the necessary documentation they require to process your claim.

The airline has 30 days to respond by issuing a payment or stating why it believes compensation is not owed.² Many airlines may initially deny pay, even if you have a valid claim. This is often because they know that many passengers are not aware of their rights and may not push back against a denial. If you are denied compensation and believe that you are entitled to it, you should continue to pursue the matter by filing a complaint with AirAdvisor.

 

Time Limit to Claim Flight Delay Compensation in Canada and EU/UK (compared).

The Canadian Transportation Agency requires that passengers file a complaint within one (1) year of the date of the incident. Failure to file within this time frame can result in the loss of the right to compensation. Also, the EU Flight Compensation allows passengers 3 years to claim payout from airlines for flight disruptions, while the UK allows up to 6 years.

When making a claim for flight delay compensation, it's important to have all of the necessary documentation, including your flight details, any emails or correspondence with the airline, and any receipts for expenses incurred as a result of the delay or cancellation, such as food, accommodation, or transportation. Keeping a record of everything related to the flight disruption can help to support your claim and make the process smoother.

You can also use our calculator or flight delay checker to determine whether you are eligible for airline payout and how much you may be entitled to. These tools can help you understand your rights and provide you with an estimate of the compensation you may be eligible for.

Overall, making a flight delay compensation claim on your own can be a frustrating process, particularly if the airline is uncooperative or denies your claim. However, it's important to remember that you have rights as a passenger and that airlines are required to follow Canadian law regarding compensation for flight disruptions. If you believe you are entitled to airline payout, don't give up on pursuing your claim and contact us today.

 a man and a woman high five-ing after making a successful claim with AirAdvisor

 

Flight Delay Compensation Canada: AirAdvisor Can Increase Your Chance of Success

If you have experienced a flight disruption and are seeking flight cancellation compensation Canada, it can be a challenging and time-consuming process. However, there are services available that can help make the process easier and increase your chances of success.

Using a service like AirAdvisor can increase your chances of success, as we have experience dealing with airlines and know how to navigate the compensation process effectively. We also have a high success rate, meaning that you are more likely to receive payout you are entitled to. Moreover, you don't have to pay us anything. AirAdvisor works based on a Success Fee, which means we only get our commission from an airline’s payout. If we cannot get you paid, you won't have to pay us anything out of pocket. 

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Common Questions and Answers on getting Compensation for the delayed flights in Canada

How long does a flight have to be delayed to get compensation?

If your flight is delayed by more than three hours, you may be entitled to compensation if the delay was within the airline's control, such as a technical issue with the aircraft or a scheduling error.

 

Can you claim compensation for a 3 hour flight delay?

You might be entitled to compensation for a delay of 3 hours or more if the delay was within the airline's control. However, if the delay was caused by factors outside the airline's control, such as bad weather or air traffic control restrictions, you may not be entitled to compensation.

 

What if my flight is delayed by 1 or 2 hours?

If your flight is delayed by 1 or 2 hours, you are not entitled to compensation under Canadian law. However, airlines may still provide you with assistance, such as food and drinks during the delay of 2+ hours, or offer to rebook you on a different flight if necessary

 

How do I claim compensation for a delayed flight in Canada?

Contact the airline and ask them for an explanation and how they plan to assist you. Keep all documents related to your flight, then submit your claim through AirAdvisor, including any supporting documents.

  

What are my rights when an airline changes my flight in Canada?

If an airline changes your flight in Canada, you have the right to be notified of the change and to be rebooked on a similar flight at no additional cost. If you are not satisfied with the alternative flight offered by the airline, you may be entitled to a refund or compensation, depending on the circumstances.

 

Can I get a refund if my flight time is changed in Canada?

If your flight time is changed in Canada, aka when a flight is cancelled or flight delay is three hours or more, you may be entitled to a refund if the new flight time is not acceptable to you and you decide to cancel your trip. However, if the airline provides an acceptable alternative flight, you have the right to reject the airline’s offer and seek a refund.