Air Canada Flight Delay Compensation: What You Need To Know

Gravatar for Brianna Harrison

Written by Brianna Harrison

Updated:

Fact Checked

Have you ever been on a flight that was delayed for hours or even cancelled altogether? It’s frustrating when you need to get somewhere, and your travel plans become completely disrupted. 

Fortunately, you are entitled to compensation if your flight is cancelled or delayed for more than 3 hours. 

In this article, you’ll learn about flight delay and cancellation compensation for all Canadian airlines, including Air Canada, how much compensation you can receive, how to submit a claim, and more.

Lastly, I’ll talk about my personal experience applying for flight cancellation compensation with Air Canada, so you know what to expect if it ever happens to you. 

Flight Delay and Cancellation Compensation: An Overview

You are generally entitled to compensation if your flight is cancelled or delayed for more than 3 hours. If the following three things have happened, airlines must provide a reimbursement of some kind:

  • The flight was cancelled or delayed for 3 hours or longer, and 
  • The disruption is within their control and not safety-related, and 
  • You were made aware of the disruption with less than 14 days’ notice. 

Compensation ranges from $125 to $1,000, depending on the airline and your final arrival time. 

Small Airlines

Small airlines, like Flair, Swoop, and Lynx, provide compensation based on the following. 

If your flight has been cancelled or delayed for:

  • 3 to 6 hours, they will provide $125 in compensation
  • 6 to 9 hours, they will provide $250 in compensation
  • 9 hours or more, they will provide $500 in compensation

Large Airlines

Large airlines, like Air Canada, WestJet, and Air Transat, will provide compensation based on the following. 

If your flight has been cancelled or delayed for:

  • 3 to 6 hours, they will provide $400 in compensation
  • 6 to 9 hours, they will provide $700 in compensation
  • 9 hours or more, they will provide $1,000 in compensation

If you believe you are entitled to compensation, you must make a claim in writing within one year of the disruption. Airlines then have 30 days to respond, either providing the compensation or telling you why they believe compensation is not necessary. 

Airlines may also provide rebates, vouchers, or other forms of compensation of a higher value than the compensation owed. Learn more about flight delay compensation in Canada in our in-depth article. 

When Can You Get Flight Delay and Cancellation Compensation With Air Canada? 

If your flight is cancelled or delayed for 3 hours or more, Air Canada states that they will rebook you on an alternative flight to your destination if you require. They must inform you of the reason for the delay or cancellation. 

If the delay or cancellation is within Air Canada’s control or required for safety purposes and you don’t want to board the alternative flight, Air Canada will refund the unused portion of your ticket. If you are between destinations, they can refund your ticket and return you to your point of origin. 

If your flight is cancelled or delayed for over 3 hours and the situation is not within Air Canada’s control, they will provide a refund subject to applicable rules.

Air Canada also states that if you have been informed of the delay or cancellation less than 12 hours before the departure time and you have waited two hours after the departure time, they will provide you with: 

  • Food and drink,
  • A hotel or appropriate accommodation (if you are from out-of-town),
  • And access to a means of communication. 

How Much Compensation Can You Recieve? 

Air Canada will provide compensation based on your arrival time at your final destination, as follows:

  • Delays between 3 to 6 hours – $400 CAD
  • Delays between 6 to 9 hours – $700 CAD
  • Delays of 9 hours or more – $1,000 CAD

The only time Air Canada can refuse your request for compensation is if the following are true:

  • You are informed of the delay or cancellation 15 days or more before the scheduled departure time 
  • Your flight was delayed or cancelled due to a situation within Air Canada’s control or for safety reasons
  • You did not submit your claim within one year of the delay or cancellation
  • You do not have a confirmed reservation, or your flight wasn’t available to the public
  • You have already been paid denied boarding compensation or have been already paid under another passenger rights regime

If you apply for an Air Canada compensation claim but do not think it was resolved satisfactorily, you can contact Air Canada Customer Relations to file a claim or contact the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA)

Can You Receive a Full Refund For Cancelled or Delayed Flights With Air Canada? 

If your flight is cancelled or delayed for 3 hours or more and the reason is outside their control, Air Canada will refund you the unused portion of your ticket (including fees and/or purchased travel add-ons).

To request a refund, you’ll need to call Air Canada Reservations. You will then request a refund via your original point of purchase with the original payment method.  

You may also choose to put the unused portion toward future travel with Air Canada. Any fees charged to the original ticket will be waived, and you must commence or complete your travel within 12 months. Learn more here

How To Apply for Air Canada Flight Compensation

For Air Canada and every other airline you make a claim with, you have exactly one year from the date of flight cancellation or delay to submit a compensation form. Airlines have 30 days to respond. 

Here are the steps to submit an Air Canada compensation form: 

Visit the Contact Us page and select Flight Delay or Cancellation Claim. 

image showing a flight delay and cancellation form

Next, select “Compensation Eligibility Tool.”

Then, you’ll need to enter your ticket number from the original reservation or on your boarding pass, along with your last name. 

image showing air canada flight disruption compensation tool

Once you enter that information, you will see your full flight details and Air Canada’s advice on whether you are eligible for compensation. 

image showing a disruption compensation claim form by air canada

If they determine you are eligible, you can continue to enter Passenger Details. 

image showing air canada disruption claim form for passenger's details

Once you submit the form, they should respond within 30 days. 

My Personal Experience With Air Canada Flight Delay Compensation

In late 2022, I was scheduled to fly from Toronto, Canada, to Brussels, Belgium, with a connecting flight in Montreal. What I thought would be a smooth journey quickly turned into a rocky adventure. 

Here’s what happened:

On my way to Toronto Pearson International Airport, I was informed that my flight from Toronto to Montreal was delayed by 1 hour and 30 minutes due to an unscheduled maintenance issue with the aircraft. This left me with no time to catch my connecting flight, as the layover would have been only 45 minutes. 

image showing flight changed notification from air canada

I was again informed that it was further delayed by 30 minutes, and another email said that the connecting flight was also delayed. With all these delays, I knew I would miss my connecting flight and, thus, would not be arriving in Brussels anytime soon. 

image showing flight changed notification from air canada

Finally, after all the delays, they notified me that the first flight was cancelled due to an unforeseen aircraft maintenance issue. 

image showing flight cancellation notification from air canada

Air Canada automatically put me onto new flights, which should have given me enough time to catch the connecting flight. 

The new flights were from Toronto > Vienna > Brussels. Had things gone smoothly, I would have arrived in Vienna at 8:30 and caught the connecting flight at 9:25. 

image showing new flights availability given by air canada

However, there was an “uncooperative passenger” and “unforeseen circumstances” on that flight, which ended up being delayed for over two hours. 

I missed my connecting flight but managed to get onto the next one a few hours later. 

I submitted an Air Canada compensation claim, as I arrived at my final destination over 3 hours later than I was originally supposed to. 

I submitted the Air Canada flight compensation form on October 12, 2022, and I heard back on November 10th. They said they would review the claim and get back to me within 30 days. It took them 29. 

As we know, large airlines are supposed to compensate you $400 CAD for delays between 3 and 6 hours. However, I only received a $300 CAD eCoupon. 

image showing an ecoupon given by air canada as a compensation for the delayed flight

This is why I did not receive the $400 CAD compensation, according to Air Canada:

“Based on the information we have collected, the root cause of your disruption was not within the control of the airline or is due to safety-related reasons, and therefore regulations do not call for compensation in this case.”

After reviewing my request, Air Canada stated that regulations do not call for compensation. However, they offered me an eCoupon valued at $300.00 CAD, valid for three years, which can be used on my next booking. 

Final Thoughts

So, is it worth it to submit a flight delay or cancellation compensation claim with Air Canada? I believe it is, but if there is any reason for them to claim the disruption was not within their control, you might just get an eCoupon like me, or no compensation at all. 

Don’t expect Air Canada to follow through on their promise and get back to you promptly, as they responded just within the 30-day timeframe. 

FAQs

Do Canadian airlines have to compensate for delays? 

If your flight was delayed for 3 hours or more, all Canadian airlines must compensate for the delay. The delay must not be within their control and not related to safety issues. 

What happens if your flight is delayed more than 3 hours in Canada? 

If your flight is delayed for more than 3 hours, not within the airline’s control, and not related to safety issues, the airline must provide compensation of at least $125. 

What percentage of flights are delayed with Air Canada? 

Between June 19 and July 16, 2023, half of Air Canada’s 31,168 flights were delayed. One of the biggest reasons for this was because of peak travel season and Canada Day weekend. 

Why is Air Canada cancelling so many flights last minute? 

This summer, Air Canada flights were operating at peak capacity. With most flights being full, mechanical issues came into play, weather disruptions were blamed, and more. There’s no one reason why flights were cancelled last minute.

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Author

Gravatar for Brianna Harrison
Brianna Harrison

Brianna is a writer from Toronto, Canada, specializing in the personal finance and tech niche. She has been writing, editing, and proofreading for over 5 years as a freelancer, and her writing has been featured in The Globe and Mail. She loves to travel, meet new people, and discover new places. When she’s not writing or travelling, Brianna likes to bake, decorate cakes, and even ran her own custom cake business.

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4 thoughts on “Air Canada Flight Delay Compensation: What You Need To Know”

  1. Gravatar for PP Gal

    Air Canada gave me a $250 e-voucher for a delayed flight from San Francisco to Vancouver.

    Filing a claim is a lot of trouble. Since then I decided not to book flight with Air Canada. I’ll probably not use the e-voucher because I don’t want to travel via AC anymore. It was kinda a traumatic experience when I had to stay in Vancouver for two more days.

    Also wouldn’t use World Nomads for travel insurance because my claim was denied.

    • Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

      @PP Gal: Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. Gravatar for C. Hopwood

    We had a similar experience with Air Canada in January 2023 (our flight was cancelled and rescheduled 3 days later due to equipment availability). Like you, we initially received an offer from Air Canada for a $300 CAD travel credit that expired in 3 years. However, we did something a bit different, and ended up getting a different result. In addition to filing our complaint with Air Canada, after 30 days had elapsed without a response, we also filed a complaint with the CTA. I think this made a difference, because 20 days after our initial offer from Air Canada we received a new offer for $1000 CAD refunds (via e-transfer). Thus, I would absolutely encourage people to file a complaint with the CTA (in addition to the airline) if you meet their complaint requirements.

    For more details (and links to the forms we used) you can see this post: https://chopwoodcarryfire.com/2023/10/11/refunds-for-interrupted-travel-in-canada/

    Thanks!

    • Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

      @C. Hopwood: Good advice. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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