How to be compensated if your flight is canceled in

These tips can prevent you from joining the host of travelers who are struggling to get reimbursed

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With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Canada and abroad, many Canadians are excited to get back on the road. However, the return to summer holidays has not been as smooth as the travel industry and passengers had hoped.

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Canceled and delayed flights, lost luggage and impossibly long wait times are some of the issues Canadian travelers are facing this summer. Despite Canadian airlines reduce their summer flight schedule end of June, many travelers are still struggling to get compensated for travel disruptions. If that sounds like you, here’s what you need to know to get compensated if your flight is canceled in Canada.

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Know your rights

Canadian travelers should familiarize themselves with the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR), which were developed by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) and came into force in 2019. The APR covers flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights.

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Situations in which you may be eligible to file a complaint include:

  • Flight delays and cancellations
  • Lost baggage
  • Lack of accessible transportation for the disabled or elderly
  • Discrimination based on race/religion/gender expression, etc.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to seek compensation or reimbursement from an airline, the first step is to approach the airline itself. If the airline denies your request, then you can file a complaint with the CTA. These claims require a lot of paperwork, so be sure to keep all documents related to your flight. This includes details of the original flight (flight number, airline, date and time) and any official notification that your flight has been changed. It’s also handy to keep any receipts for food or accommodation you had to buy as a result of the canceled or delayed flight.

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As part of the APPR you have up to one year to file a claim (in writing) against the airline and the airline then has 30 days to respond by making a payment or explaining why no compensation is due.

The APPR states that compensation is required for flight cancellations or long delays which are “in the control of the carrier”. For example, for a flight delay of three to six hours, passengers on major airlines are right to compensation of $400 . If that delay extends to nine hours or more, passengers are entitled to $1,000.

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Deficiencies and changes

However, one of the biggest problems for airlines this summer is the shortage of crew due to COVID-19. Many airlines state that this is beyond their control and therefore passengers whose flights have been canceled or delayed are not entitled to any compensation. This led to a number of problems that extended beyond the airlines and into the CTA.

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To address this regulatory gap, the CTA announced upcoming amendments to the APPR which will enter into force on September 8, 2022. These new amendments will provide additional measures benefiting the passenger in situations considered beyond the control of the airline.

Until this regulatory loophole is closed, many Canadians are being denied compensation. In these situations, travel insurance can be useful. In addition, travelers to Europe can take advantage of EC Regulation No. 261/2004. Under this protective regulation, passengers have the legal right to 250 to 600 euros if they are denied boarding, are bumped from their flight, have a delayed flight or if the flight is cancelled.

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All travelers should also be aware of the Montreal Convention 1999 (MC99). This treaty establishes the liability of airlines in several cases, including flight disruptions and delays, damage to or loss of baggage and cargo. To have the best chance of receiving compensation, make sure you keep all flight and baggage documents. You should also take photos of your suitcase to have the brand and color on hand. If you have receipts for the items in your baggage, submit them with the claim as airlines will always understate. That being said, there is a maximum claim of US$1,700, so remember to check all valuables.

MC99 is a universal treaty intended to govern the liability of airlines worldwide, so it only applies to international flights between countries that are part of the treaty. Again, go to the airline first and emphasize the Montreal Convention. If you are still having problems receiving compensation, contact the CTA.

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More tips for claiming airline compensation

The above regulations help you better understand when you should receive compensation or reimbursement from the airline. However, travelers and airline employees have a few other suggestions to make the process easier.

be ready

Some Canadians are lucky enough to be notified well in advance of their flight being delayed or canceled. However, there are many more who discover that their flight has been canceled or disrupted just before their travel time.

As this is a possibility, it is best to arrive at the airport prepared for the worst-case scenarios. That means bringing cash, buying travel insurance, and downloading the airline’s app with your ticketing information. You can also consider a tracking device like AirTags in case of lost luggage.

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Be patient

If you find yourself in a situation where you seek financial compensation, you will need to be patient. Erika Lange, who works in customer service for a Canadian airline, shares that it usually only takes travelers 30 days to receive their refund. However, each request is evaluated by a specialist according to the criteria of the APPR. Due to both COVID-19 and increased claims volume, this is taking longer than usual.

Be kind

Cook had flights to Amsterdam to catch Ed Sheeran in concert in July, but ended up being bumped from his flight back to Canada. She called Air Canada and kindly asked the assisting agent what had happened and how she could get home. Mike, the airline agent, told them the original flight was full and asked if they had any flexibility on their return date. Sarah agreed to leave a day later than originally planned and was upgraded to business class as a thank you for her patience and willingness to be flexible.

This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.

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Joan J. Holland