6 Things to Know About Air Canada Flight Delay Compensation

Air Canada ups flight delay compensation to $700 and is required to rebook or offer refunds to passengers.
JT Genter
By JT Genter 
Edited by Meg Lee

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In 2023, Air Canada operated just 63% of its flights on time. That landed the Montreal-based airline in last place among major airlines in North America, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium.

If you're one of the many Air Canada passengers who've experienced a delay, here's what you need to know about Air Canada flight delay compensation — especially after recent rule changes.

1. Canadian regulations require compensation for delays over three hours

As of Sept. 8, 2022, Canadian airlines are required to provide compensation for eligible delays of over three hours. The amount of the delay compensation depends on how long you're delayed from arriving at your final destination, as well as the size of the airline.

In the case of large airlines like Air Canada — including its subsidiaries Jazz and Rouge — the delay compensation is as follows:

  • $296 ($400 Canadian dollars) for arrival delays between three and six hours.

  • $519 ($700 Canadian dollars) for arrival delays between six and nine hours.

  • $741 ($1,000 Canadian dollars) for arrival delays of nine hours or longer.

This compensation is in addition to the completion of your itinerary or a refund of your flight, as well as "standard of treatment" requirements during the delay. This includes food, drinks and free Wi-Fi on delays over two hours and accommodations on overnight delays.

2. You're eligible for compensation even if you cancel a delayed flight

Say your trip is delayed so long that it no longer makes sense to continue on to your destination. In this case, Air Canada's policy allows for the refund of the unused portion of your ticket. If you're stuck at a connecting point, Air Canada will refund your ticket and fly you back to your origin.

Even if you take the option to cancel and refund your flight, you're still eligible for flight delay compensation. In these situations, you're due around $296 (CA$400) in flight delay compensation from Air Canada in addition to your refund.

3. Only certain delays are eligible for compensation

Not all Air Canada delays are eligible for flight delay compensation.

In order for passengers to claim flight delay compensation from Air Canada, a flight delay must be considered within the airline's control and "not related to safety." Eligible delays generally include maintenance delays and delays due to staff shortages.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) publishes a list of a dozen examples of delays that aren't considered in the airline's control — and thus aren't eligible for compensation. Noteworthy items on the list include:

  • Weather conditions or natural disasters.

  • Instructions from air traffic control.

  • Airport operation issues.

  • Medical emergency,

  • Security threat.

  • "A manufacturing defect in an aircraft that reduces the safety of passengers and that was identified by the manufacturer or a competent authority."

In cases when a delay is considered outside the airline's control, Air Canada is still required to confirm you on the next available flight on Air Canada or one of its partners.

If it can't book you on a flight within 48 hours of your original scheduled departure, you get the choice of either a refund or alternate travel arrangements — including booking on an Air Canada competitor — at no extra cost.

4. Credit card protections or travel insurance can cover gaps

Air Canada isn't on the hook for providing delay compensation or overnight accommodations when a delay is considered outside of its control — such as delays attributed to weather or air traffic control. That's why we recommend getting trip delay protection through other means.

Aeroplan Credit Card
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Credit card travel protections can fill this gap. For example, the Aeroplan® Credit Card provides protections, such as:

  • Trip Delay Reimbursement: Up to $500 per ticket for expenses such as meals and lodging if your flight is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay.

  • Trip Cancellation/ Interruption Insurance: Get reimbursed up to $1,500 per person (and $6,000 per trip) if your trip is canceled or cut short by a covered situation such as sickness, or severe weather.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® also provides trip protections. Its coverage includes reimbursement for meals, lodging and other reasonable expenses up to $500 per person for flight delays of six hours or more caused by weather, strikes or equipment failure.

Alternatively, you can cover yourself against unforeseen flight delay expenses by purchasing travel insurance that covers trip delays.

5. Filing requirements and deadlines matter

To be eligible for flight delay compensation, eligible travelers must file a written claim within one year of the date of their delayed flight. The airline then has 30 days from the date of filing to respond by paying compensation or responding with its reasoning as to why compensation isn't due.

For Air Canada, the official flight delay filing form can be found here. Select the "Flight Delay or Cancellation Claim" option. Then, enter your Air Canada ticket number and passenger's last name to get started.

If you don't get a response within 30 days — or you aren't satisfied with the airline's response — you can submit a complaint to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA). The agency will then try to broker a resolution.

6. Delayed flights from Europe are covered under EU261/UK261

In case you were wondering, you can't "double dip" on flight delay compensation. Specifically, you can't claim compensation from Air Canada under this new Canadian law if you've already gotten compensation for the same delay under the passenger protection rules of another country.

This stipulation is primarily going to affect delays on flights departing Europe. European regulation EU261 requires all airlines — not just those based in Europe — to compensate travelers for delays on flights departing mainland Europe.

All Air Canada flights from mainland Europe are over 3,500 kilometers. That means you're due around $647 (600 euros) if your Air Canada flight arrives more than three hours late when departing mainland Europe.

Similarly, the United Kingdom incorporated "UK261" legislation that requires airlines to compensate travelers for delays on flights departing the UK.

If you're on an Air Canada flight departing the UK that's delayed due to an eligible circumstance, you'll get around $327 (260 pounds) if your flight arrives at your destination with a delay of less than four hours and a whopping $655 (520 pounds) for delays over four hours.

Air Canada flight delay compensation, recapped

Canada recently changed its flight delay regulations. Now, large airlines like Air Canada are potentially on the hook for over $700 in compensation for lengthy delays deemed to be within their control.

Even if a delay isn't the airline's fault, Air Canada still has to promptly rebook you on a flight — even if that means rebooking you on a competitor — or provide a refund. In these cases, you'll want to have credit card trip delay protections or travel insurance to cover the costs of lodging, food, and other essentials.

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