What can you do when your flight is cancelled, delayed or overbooked?

What can you do when your flight is cancelled, delayed or overbooked?

What are your rights?

Most travelers don’t know what their options are when their flight is cancelled, delayed or overbooked.

Several international laws like the treaties of Warsaw and Montreal as well as the European Commission’s (EC) Regulation 261/2004 establish common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers.

Compensation can range from $380 to $920, per passenger, for a flight that is delayed for more than 3 hours, cancelled or overbooked.

It’s the cities you’re departing from and landing in that will determine the compensation, not the actual distance traveled.

Contact your airline

The first thing to do when your flight is cancelled, delayed or overbooked is to call your airline.

An airline can offer you:

  • A seat on another flight
  • A refund
  • Compensation for the inconvenience

However, these vary from one airline to another.

When an airline refuses to compensate

You’re not out of options when your airline gives you the runaround.

Do you have travel insurance?*

Good! Call the assistance number on your policy or your credit card.

They will tell you how to submit a claim and what expenses are covered (e.g., hotel, meals, etc.).

If you booked with a certified travel agent

Thanks to the Compensation fund for customers of travel agents, the price of your ticket or your entire package may be refunded.

The only condition is that your travel agent has a valid permit issued by Quebec’s consumer protection agency (Office de la protection du consommateur).

Other expenses incurred as a result of a flight cancellation, delay or overbooking are not covered by this fund.

Situations in which you’re not covered by the fund

  • You purchased your flight directly from the airline.
  • Your travel agent does not have a Quebec permit.
  • You did not purchase your trip in person (online, app, mail or phone).

This means you paid with a credit card, so check with them about a refund.


If you feel that your airline failed to respect its agreement, you could submit an air travel complaint to the Canadian Transportation Agency.

It’s always better to try to resolve a dispute with an airline through mediation and conciliation.

However, if you are dissatisfied with how your complaint was handled, you can always try adjudication, where each party presents arguments and evidence to a panel of one or more agency members.

*Exclusions and limitations may apply according to your insurance contract. Please contact your insurer for more information.

Take justice into your own hands

When you run out of options, consider Small claims court.

Do the inner workings of our legal system have you completely baffled? Luckily, companies now specialize in airline passenger compensation, namely flightclaim.ca.

If they successfully plead your case, they will keep a 25% commission.

If they lose, you don’t have to pay the commission.