Air Canada Won't Compensate Passengers For Flights Delayed By Crew Shortages & Here's Why

Regulators are saying it's not allowed, though.

The Vancouver Airport. Right: A line of Air Canada airplanes.

The Vancouver Airport. Right: A line of Air Canada airplanes.

Heads up, air travellers! Air Canada reportedly has a policy where delays and cancellations related to a lack of crew are considered a safety issue, meaning the company is able to avoid compensating affected passengers.

It's no secret that air travel in Canada has been difficult this year. One of the biggest reasons is staff shortages in airlines and airports.

Typically, according to Canada's Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR), passengers are entitled to up to $1,000 in compensation for flight delays and cancellations that are within the airline's control and are not related to safety.

The regulations, created by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), also state that to qualify for compensation, the disruptions must come 14 days or less before the flight's scheduled departure.

But, if an airline determines that a flight was delayed or cancelled due to a safety issue, no compensation is legally required.

According to The Canadian Press, since December 2021, Air Canada has instructed employees to classify staff shortages under this safety umbrella so that the airline is not required to compensate passengers.

The CTA has disagreed with this, stating it is not considered a safety issue but rather something within the company's control under the terms of the APPR.

"A disruption caused by a crew shortage should not be considered 'required for safety purposes' when it is the carrier who caused the safety issue as a result of its own actions," the organization said, per CTV Montreal.

Air Canada has stated that this policy will only be temporary and it's a product of the "exceptional circumstances brought on by COVID-19 variants."

As of now, passengers who feel they weren't given proper compensation for an issue with their flight can file a complaint with the CTA.

Although, if you go this route, you might be waiting a long time. The agency had a backlog of complaints that totalled 15,300 as of May 2022, The Canadian Press reported.

The good news is that changes to the APPR are coming into effect on September 8, 2022. These changes will make it so that airlines must either refund or rebook customers when a flight is cancelled — even when it's outside their control — and other assurances for travellers in Canada.

Narcity has reached out to Air Canada for comment and will update this story if and when a response is received.

Travel woes are becoming increasingly common in Canada following the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, lines for passport renewals have become exceedingly long across the country, with some even people camping out for hours to get their passports updated.

Additionally, airports across Canada have been experiencing massive delays, to the point where travellers were urged to arrive up to three hours early for international flights. In fact, Pearson Airport was ranked the worst in the world for delays in July.

The issues became so bad that the Canadian government stepped in and implemented initiatives to help curb delays. Part of their plan included hiring more security staff and finding ways to streamline COVID-19 testing.

Tristan Wheeler
Tristan Wheeler was a Creator for Narcity Media focused on money and budgets and is based in Toronto, Ontario.