A Guide to Air-Passenger Rights: Air Canada

Air Canada

Notifications of Delays, Cancellations, Diversions

Air Canada passengers can stay on top of the latest arrival and departure information for flights by signing up to receive automatic email or SMS text messages. Real-time flight information is also available online on the Air Canada Flight Status page or by calling Air Canada’s automated flight information system at 1-888-422-7533. Passengers already at the airport are encouraged to check the airport display screens, listen for announcements on the airport’s public address system, or ask one of the airport agents for information. 

Cancellations by Traveler

Up to 24 hours after purchase, Air Canada will cancel any ticket and provide a full refund without penalty.

Beyond 24 hours, voluntary changes to a passenger’s itinerary may result in the imposition of additional costs or fare upgrades. If a passenger is traveling with a nonrefundable ticket, Air Canada cannot make exceptions for cancellation, unexpected travel, or medical emergency. Beyond the 24-hour cancellation period, a nonrefundable ticket offers no options in the event that an unexpected medical emergency or other unforeseen circumstance forces a passenger to cancel a trip. It is recommended that passengers purchase cancellation insurance. Some credit cards, banks, or service providers cover trip cancellations. RBC Travel Insurance is available through AirCanada.com as well.

Refundable tickets: Passengers can get refunds for refundable tickets by electronic or e-ticketing, through the travel agency where the ticket was purchased, or through an agent at Air Canada airports or city sales offices.

Nonrefundable tickets: Beyond 24 hours after purchase, most tickets are not refundable. Certain tickets allow for no changes or refunds at all, but others may allow changes (other than a name change) for a fee. One fully unused nonrefundable ticket may be applied as a credit toward the purchase of one new ticket in the passenger's name. Travel must commence within 1 year of the date of original issue. If the fare for the new journey is lower, any residual amount may be forfeited. Additional fare amount and change fees may apply.

Cancellations Within Airline Control

Air Canada will rebook passengers on the next available Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge, or Air Canada Express flight within seven days of the original travel date and the airline can also change the return to match the length of stay if necessary. Air Canada can also rebook passengers on a flight with another airline with which Air Canada has an agreement, if circumstances permit, or rebook passengers with Via Rail when a train segment matching the itinerary is available.

If the next available flight doesn't depart until the next day, Air Canada will provide certain expenses to eligible passengers when a flight is canceled due to reasons within Air Canada's control. Airport agents will help passengers figure out if they are eligible for meal vouchers, hotel accommodations, or transportation to and from the airport.

Passengers can also cancel their bookings and Air Canada will offer the option of retaining the unused portion of the ticket and using it for future Air Canada travel or obtaining a refund for the unused portion of the ticket.

Cancellations Beyond Airline Control

When an Air Canada flight is canceled due to severe weather, passengers can use Air Canada's Delayed and Canceled Flight Service to search for another flight or can cancel their remaining flight(s) online. The service provides the same availability and options on Air Canada as the airport or call-center representatives.

If Air Canada advises a passenger that his or her flight has been canceled or if severe weather conditions are expected to bring about a flight delay or cancellation, the passenger can access the service online using his or her his or her last name and booking reference number.

If the flight has been canceled, the service will advise the passenger, in many cases, that Air Canada has already rebooked them on an alternate flight. The passenger can then use the service to view his or her new flight details and check in if the flight is eligible for online check-in, search for another flight to the destination (no change fee will apply), or cancel his or her remaining flights altogether.

If a passenger chooses to cancel his or her remaining tickets using the online tool, he or she will be able to retain the value of the ticket for future travel.


In the case of an extended delay that is expected to last two hours or more, a passenger may change his or her reservation at no cost by choosing a new departure date within seven days of the original travel date. If the passenger changes the departing flight, he or she can choose a new return flight to match the same length of stay, if necessary. Passengers may also retain the unused portion of the ticket and use it toward future travel on Air Canada. Passengers may also request a refund for unused portions of tickets.

If the delay is expected to last eight hours or more, is caused by circumstances within Air Canada's control, and has caused the flight to be rescheduled to depart the next day, out-of-town passengers may be entitled to meal vouchers, transportation to and from the airport, and hotel accommodations (subject to availability).

If the delay is expected to last eight hours or more, is caused by circumstances outside of Air Canada's control, and has caused the flight to be rescheduled to depart the next day, Air Canada representatives will provide passengers with contact information for hotels where they can obtain valued-customer rates. Compensation won't be provided.

In the event of an extended delay caused by a major disruption where a travel alert has been issued, Air Canada will offer passengers the option of traveling by Via Rail when a train segment matching the itinerary is available. 

Onboard Ground Delays

In the case of delays of more than 60 minutes on the aircraft, when the aircraft is still at the gate, Air Canada staff will provide beverages and food. Passengers will be able to use cell phones and computers and move around the cabin. If the delay exceeds 90 minutes and circumstances permit, passengers will be given the option of disembarking from the aircraft until it's time to depart. In both cases, the Air Canada in-flight entertainment system is available to passengers right away.

Air Canada will not permit an aircraft to remain on the tarmac at a U.S. airport for more than 4 hours. Prior to reaching 4 hours, Air Canada will return the aircraft to the gate or another suitable disembarkation point, where passengers will be allowed to deplane. Delays longer than the 4-hour time limit may be necessary if the pilot determines there is a safety-related or security-related reason that the aircraft cannot leave its position to deplane or if air-traffic control advises the pilot that returning to the gate or other disembarkation point to deplane would significantly disrupt airport operations.

Air Canada will provide passengers with adequate food and potable water no later than two hours after the aircraft leaves the gate or touches down (in the case of arrival and diversions) if the aircraft remains on the tarmac. Air Canada will ensure that operable lavatory facilities remain available and that adequate medical attention is available if needed. Passengers will receive notifications regarding the status of the tarmac delay every 30 minutes while the aircraft is delayed, including the reason for delay, if known.

Passengers will be notified beginning 30 minutes after scheduled departure time and every 30 minutes thereafter that they have the opportunity to deplane from an aircraft that is at the gate or another disembarkation area with the door open, if the opportunity to deplane exists.

Overbookings (Involuntarily Denied Boarding)

If a flight is overbooked, no passengers will be denied seats until airline personnel first ask for volunteers willing to give up their reservation in exchange for payment of the airline’s choosing. If there are not enough volunteers, the airline will deny boarding to other passengers in accordance with its particular boarding priority. With few exceptions, persons denied boarding involuntarily are entitled to compensation. Complete terms of compensation and boarding priorities are available at airport ticket counters and boarding locations.

For more information, visit AirCanada.com.

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