January 1, 2020

Transportation (part 2)



On December 15, 2019, the second part of the changes to the “Passenger Charter” came into effect in Canada, completing the first part implemented on July 15 of the same year. These changes to the Air Passenger Protection Regulations provide travelers with new protections.

The purchase of an airline ticket constitutes a transportation contract between the traveler and the carrier. This contract, in addition to being subject to the rules of the Civil Code of Quebec, is regulated by the Air Transportation Act for most international flights, supplemented by the Air Passenger Protection Regulations for any flight originating from Canada and any domestic flight. These new arrangements aim to make carriers more responsible and ensure minimum standards of passenger treatment, especially in the case of flight delays. Consider the example where passengers were grounded for five hours in the middle of summer without water, food, or air conditioning.

Although it is impossible to avoid all delays, the legislator has established rules forcing carriers to compensate travelers in cases of both flight delays and cancellations, based on the significance of the delay in the arrival time:

  • 3 to 6 hours: $400;
  • 6 to 9 hours: $700;
  • More than 9 hours: $1,000.

Smaller carriers are subject to the same rules, but the compensations and penalties are reduced.

Moreover, as soon as a delay reaches 2 hours, passengers must have access, free of charge, to a reasonable quantity of food and drinks, as well as a means of communication (e.g., WiFi). Additionally, when passengers are on board the aircraft, they must have access to functional toilets, and the ventilation and heating/air conditioning systems must be adequate. Access to medical assistance should also be available if needed. After a three-hour delay, passengers must be allowed to leave the plane if takeoff is not imminent.

In the case of a delay or cancellation where passengers are expected to wait overnight before the next departure, the carrier must provide accommodation as well as round-trip transportation to get there.


In the case of denied boarding (overbooking) or flight cancellation, the carrier must provide free alternative travel arrangements or a refund. Overbooking also leads to significant compensation determined based on the delay in the arrival time:

  • Less than 6 hours of delay: $900
  • 6 to 9 hours of delay: $1,800
  • More than 9 hours: $2,400


It may happen that the circumstances of a delay or cancellation are beyond the control of the carrier. Among the exceptions, weather conditions and mechanical failures are noteworthy. However, it’s important to note that the exception of mechanical failure implies the carrier demonstrating that the incident was unforeseeable and did not result from prior reporting or negligent maintenance.

The luggage

Nothing is more frustrating than arriving at your destination without your luggage. The Charter provides for the reimbursement of baggage transport fees and a maximum compensation of approximately $2100 (based on the current value of the Canadian dollar) for lost or damaged checked baggage. However, it’s worth noting that no compensation is provided for carry-on baggage.

Certainly, the value of the contents of the baggage could exceed the specified compensation amount, especially for valuable items. The passenger must declare such items to the carrier. The carrier reserves the right to refuse the baggage or impose an additional fee (e.g., insurance).

Non-compliance with new rules

Through these changes to the regulations, the legislator aims to enhance traveler protection in the event of an incident, but more importantly, to encourage carriers to change their mindset towards travelers. This is why failure to comply with the new rules can result in severe penalties ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 for the offending company.

Advisory Box

Several exceptions and nuances complicate the application of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations. If you or one of your employees experiences a delay, cancellation, lost luggage, or inadequate treatment on board an aircraft, the advisors at La Boîte Juridique can assist you in your efforts to seek compensation.

WARNING: The information contained in this article, while of a legal nature, does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended to consult with a professional for advice that will address your specific situation.