Air Travel Complaints (Examples)
The Agency can deal with issues such as:
- Flight disruptions
- Tickets and reservations
- Denied boarding
- Refusal to transport
- Passenger fares and charges
- Carrier-operated loyalty programs (e.g. AAdvantage, World Perk, Skymiles)
The Agency cannot deal with issues related to:
- The level or quality of customer service
- Tour operators
- Travel agents
- Consequential damages
The Canadian Transportation Agency does not have the mandate to award consequential damages such as loss of income, loss of enjoyment, pain and suffering, etc. If you believe that you are entitled to such damages, you may wish to consult a lawyer.
- Aircraft noise, safety and security
- Aircraft cabin standards
- Problems in airport terminals
- Problems with airport security
- Non-air carrier operated loyalty programs such as Aeroplan and AirMiles
Certain loyalty and frequent shopper programs such as Aeroplan and Air Miles are run by corporations that are independent of air carriers, therefore transactions made with these companies are private and contractual in nature and are not part of the Agency's jurisdiction.
- Unfair competitive practices
- Bilingual services
The Agency may not be able to deal with other types of complaints related to other types of issues which are not directly related to airline terms and conditions of carriage (tariffs), such as the attitude of airline staff, telephone waiting times or on-board food service. If you are unsure about certain issues, you may contact the Agency.
If your complaint involves an issue that the Agency can deal with, you will have an opportunity to provide more information when you fill out the form.
You must bring your complaint to the attention of the air carrier before filing a complaint with the Agency (refer to Major Air Carriers - Customer Service Departments for contact information about major air carriers serving Canada). If you did not do so, the Agency will not process your complaint at this time as it requires the carrier's response to conduct its investigation. If you have contacted the air carrier but have not yet received a reply, the Agency will not be able to process your complaint until you have waited at least 30 days for a response from the carrier.
For travel within Canada, air carriers establish their own limits of liability for lost, damaged and delayed baggage to an amount that varies considerably from carrier to carrier. Carriers must set out their limits of liability in their tariff. All claims are subject to proof of loss. Generally speaking, the Agency cannot award compensation beyond these prescribed limits.
Limits of liability for travel to and from Canada are set out in the Montreal and Warsaw Conventions. For round-trip travel originating in Canada, the Montreal Convention limits apply. All claims are subject to proof of loss.
Airlines do not guarantee their flight schedules and are unlikely to provide compensation for flight delays.
Carriers do not usually accept liability for missed connections when a person is travelling on tickets of two or more unrelated carriers.
Carriers do not usually accept liability for costs incurred as a result of "force majeure" situations arising from such things as delays due to weather conditions or mechanical breakdown.
Carriers do not usually accept liability for consequential damages resulting from flight delays, e.g. loss of vacation time, foregone business opportunities and lost salary, etc. If you are seeking such damages, you should seek legal advice as to how best to proceed.
Carriers issue tickets whether paper or electronic to identify those passengers who have purchased transportation. Tickets act as a receipt and provide evidence that a contract of carriage exists. Tickets are not transferable. Some issues related to tickets include lost tickets, ticket validity including expired tickets (most tickets are valid for one year from issue) and charges related to reissuing a ticket.
A reservation is a record reflecting the passenger's status on a particular flight. A passenger can be confirmed, wait listed or on stand-by. If a reservation has been cancelled a passenger will lose their status and will not be able to travel. The most common reason a passenger's reservation would be cancelled by a carrier would be due to a failure to respect the check-in time limits established by the carrier. It is very important to arrive at the ticket counter at the airport sufficiently well in advance of the check-in time limit, particularly at peak travel times. A cancelled reservation will leave the passenger with little recourse and may result in considerable additional expense if a new ticket is required for travel the same day.
Matters related to tickets and reservations are within the Agency's jurisdiction and terms and conditions associated with these matters must be clear, reasonable and not unduly discriminatory.
The term "denied boarding" refers uniquely to a situation where a person is unable to board an aircraft due to a situation where a carrier sells more seats than it has available (also referred to as "over-booking" or "bumping").
The term "refusal to transport" refers to a situation where a person is not permitted to board an aircraft or is removed from an aircraft due to something that the person allegedly did or failed to do. The term "refusal to transport" is not applicable to an over-booking situation (see "Denied boarding" above).
The Canadian Transportation Agency's jurisdiction over domestic air carrier pricing is limited to passenger fares on routes within Canada on which there is no, or only very limited, competition. Before filing a complaint about airline pricing on routes within Canada, please refer to the following section of our Web site:
Air fares and charges to and from Canada must be consistent with air carrier tariffs, international conventions and/or the applicable bilateral air services agreement between Canada and the country involved. Complaints about the cost of international travel cannot be dealt with under the Air Travel Complaints Program. For more information on filing complaints about international passenger fares and cargo rates, please refer to the following sections of our Web site:
In cases of domestic air transportation, the Agency has jurisdiction over the level and range of cargo rates on routes with little or no competition. For international services, the Agency's jurisdiction is dependent on the nature of the applicable international convention, or air transport agreement in place between Canada and the point of destination. Increasingly, with the negotiation of Open/Blue Skies Agreements market forces are allowed to dictate the level of cargo rates and charges. As for terms and conditions of cargo carriage, whether for domestic or international transportation, they must be clear, reasonable and not unduly discriminatory.
The Agency may process other types of complaints directly related to airline terms and conditions of carriage (tariffs), such as those that may be considered unfair, unreasonable or discriminatory or cases involving unaccompanied minors or animals. If you are unsure about certain issues, you may contact the Agency.