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Improved rights for Canadian air travellers are now here

New national airline consumer code has taken effect – more to come later this year

The United States and the European Union long ago put in place strong consumer protection laws for air passengers. We believe Canadians deserve no less, so that when something goes wrong, you know what your rights are and how to claim them. And 90% of Canadians agree with us.

Some new consumer rights for Canadians came into effect on July 15 and a second wave will come on December 15. The new system is far from perfect, but also much better than what we had before. For the first time, Canadians will have standardized, publicly-accessible passenger rights.

As of July 2019

  • Airlines must inform travellers in simple, clear and concise language what their rights are on all itinerary-related documents and messaging;
  • Overbooking: Compensation up to $2,400 for being involuntarily bumped from a flight and no cost re-booking;
  • Increases to an airline’s maximum liability on domestic flights for lost or damaged baggage to match current international flight limits and the requirement to refund any baggage fees paid;
  • Tarmac delays: Airlines are required to provide standard of treatment (access to toilets, heating/cooling, refreshments, etc.) beginning at the time of the delay. Airlines will also have to disembark passengers no later than 3 hours after the delay starts; and

What is coming in December 2019:

  • Cash compensation for delays and cancellations of more than three hours within the carrier’s control;
  • Airlines will be required to rebook and/or refund travel that is delayed or cancelled, depending on circumstances.
  • Airlines will also have to facilitate seating of children under the age of 14 with their parents, at no cost.

What Are Your Rights as an Air Passenger?

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has released a plain-language resource to help you understand your rights as an air passenger. In addition, if you feel the airline has not provided you with a just level of treatment or compensation, you can file a complaint directly with the CTA.

For an additional resource on what to expect with the new regime visit our CAA-Quebec Club’s guide “Air travel: rights and recourse.”


How we got here

The Canadian Automobile Association has been representing the travelling public since 1913. And for decades, we have been operating one of the country’s largest leisure travel agencies.

CAA will continue to advocate on behalf of travellers for better and more clear rights. Here is what is still missing, in our view:

  • The proposed rules will, in most cases, require travellers to file a claim with an airline in order to get compensation, even when it is obvious a plane was many hours late.
  • In addition, there will be no compensation if a problem is caused by “mechanical issues” – the definition of which should be clearer.
  • Air travel performance data which allows Canadians to judge whether the new regime is working won’t be available for some time.

We’ve been advocating for your rights for many years

  • CAA’s opening remarks in support of Bill C-49, an act to improve the rights of air passengers.
  • CAA Comments to the House of Commons in Support of Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act. Learn More

What Did Canadians Tell CAA They Wanted to see in an air passenger bill of rights?

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91%

90% of Canadians say a national airline consumer code is important.

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85%

85% of Canadians say it is important an airline consumer code includes a right to be reimbursed, rebooked, or transferred without additional fees if the cancellation is caused by the airline.

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84%

Over eight out of 10 Canadians say a right to compensation and refunded fees for lost or damaged baggage is important to include in an airline consumer code.

Source: CAA polling from December 2018.

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