Air Canada - flight cancellation & rebooking policy

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RHR

Jan 3, 2017
6
1
62
We recently had a flight cancelled due to weather and got conflicting information from many Air Canada agents on the rebooking process. I have researched their contract of carriage, but am not able to find out the definitive answer. Can someone help clarify?

Here's the story:

Flights were NY-Canada-Paris
Departing 12/26, returning 1/1
Ended up departing 12/27

Here is what Air Canada's webpage says:

If your Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or Air Canada Express flight* is cancelled, our agents will do everything possible to assist you. In an effort to accommodate your travel plans, we will:

  • Rebook you:
    • on the next available Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or Air Canada Express flight (in the cabin you originally purchased) within 7 days of your original travel date - we can also change your return to match the same length of stay if necessary; or
    • on a flight with another airline with which Air Canada has an agreement for such transportation, if circumstances permit.

Flight cancelled due to weather in Canada. Tried to use online rebooking tool, but it didn't work. Called Air Canada, researched other options, stood in line at airport.

We were told they could not rebook us going out due to space availability. I found availability on other airlines within the same alliance, but was told by some agents that "Air Canada did not have an agreement with them and that the international desk will not approve it." Finally, after 7 hrs in line and on the phone at airport, the gate agent walked away from our family at 11pm and told us there was nothing she could do. We checked into an airport hotel and I began calling again until 3am with no luck. Resumed calling at 7am and secured a flight for that night 12/27 leaving from another NY airport.

Attempted to extend the trip to match the same length of stay per their website. Spent 5 days calling from France being told there was nothing available, then told that in order to extend the stay I would have had to make those arrangements within 48 hrs of the original departure dates (12/26) and that the length of the trip would be calculated from that original date. This makes no sense to me.

Finally got an agent on 12/31 who put us on another carrier and allowed us to return on 1/2.

I am happy that we were able to work things out somewhat, but I wasted time with my family dealing with an airline that gave me conflicting information every step of the way. I would like to know if anyone knows their policy or can suggest how I can find out.

Thanks for your help.
 

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
26,145
29,499
New York
www.promalvacations.com
In the US they have to either accommodate you on the next AVAILABLE flight or provide you with a refund.

That can take several days if all their flights are fully booked too.

Not many airlines have a reciprocal agreement with other airlines anymore so there probably wasn't another flight they could book you on.

If you request a refund you are on your own to book another flight at the last minute which will most likely cost a lot more.

It sounds like the airline did everything they could if there weren't available seats on the next flights going out. These are your rights:

Delayed or Canceled Flight

As with routing and schedule changes, your main option in the face of any kind of significant delay is usually to get a refu of the unused portion of your ticket. You need to check the contract of carriage for your airline. For example, Delta provides that for cancellations or “delays of greater than 90 minutes, or delays that will cause a passenger to miss connections” Delta will, upon your request, cancel the remaining ticket and refund the unused portion of it. If the delay or cancellation requires an overnight stay, airlines will typically provide overnight accommodation if the delay was within the airline’s control, such as a mechanical issue. If the delay is due to a “force majeure” event, however, such as weather, the contract of carriage usually does not require the airline to provide anything, so vouchers, etc. are at the airline’s discretion.

Also at the airline’s discretion is whether to put you on another carrier. Typically the contract of carriage only stipulates that the airline will put you on its own next available flight. For example, American Airlines provides “When cancellations and major delays are experienced, you will be rerouted on our next flight with available seats.”

American Airlines Contract of Carriage for Delays

Delta Airlines Contract of Carriage (Domestic)

United Airlines Contract of Carriage

US Airways Contract of Carriage
 
Aug 29, 2015
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872
Sadly, things like this happen. It is winter. Weather happens, and particularly in winter.

How many were in your party? Did you have minors in the party, requiring that you all flew together? If so, it means they must find that number of seats on the same flight, which is even more difficult.

So, you kept on the phone, and kept calling until you got what you sought. What do you want from them? They are not required to provide a hotel room when weather causes the delay in the US. Hopefully you had travel insurance that will provide a benefit for trip delay. If not, ask for some frequent flyer miles to your account.

My last experience with a delay and Air Canada was when we missed our connection at Pearson. We had a party of 5, one of whom was my 20-year old daughter who used a wheelchair. We were to fly from Pearson to Chicago. The flight from Germany was delayed, and US Customs and Boarder Control closed before we could get there. Air Canada was not able to get all five us on a flight to Chicago at the same time for a number of days. Since all were over 18, they asked if we could split up. I said yes, but that we then had a 7 hour drive home from Chicago. The agent asked where home was, and I replied two hours from St. Louis, MO. He then asked if we wanted to fly to STL instead. He had room on a flight there for most of our party. The solution was that I flew to Chicago to get the car, and the rest of the family split into two groups to fly to STL. By the time I got to STL, they were all there. Doable when all are legal adults. If we had required them to fly us all on the same flight to Chicago, it would likely have been a day or two later.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
11,169
13,522
San Francisco
RHR, this is one of those travel ordeals that we all dread, especially over the holidays. The Air Canada agents are all telling you different things because that's what airline agents do ... just tell you something to make you go away. On such a short trip, this must have been maddening. I commend you for getting your return changed - that's the last thing I would have expected you could pull off. You should be proud of yourself! I know that's no consolation to a trip that was essentially compromised ... I'm sure you wasted hours when you should have been out enjoying Paris. I would have had a meltdown. Air Canada did what it could for you, and I'm sure you would have been fine with that had they just given you a straight answer. If you are a member of their loyalty program, I'd ask for some points. But you may not be interested ... I had a horrendous problem with AC fifteen years ago and I've not flown them since, nor will I. It wasn't as awful as your situation, but different answers every time you turned around. I wish I had a better answer for you.
 
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RHR

Jan 3, 2017
6
1
62
Thank you all for your responses. Just to clarify, I don't want anything from them. I was just wondering if anyone knew what their policy was or how I could find out what it was regarding the return trip. The part where it says "we can also change your return to match the same length of stay if necessary." I understand bad weather, I understand rules, I just want to understand what the official policy is on this return piece and why I would keep getting different information from different agents. Perhaps it is, as jsn55 commented, that they just wanted to get me off the phone. Regardless, there should be a way for me to find out what the official policy on that return is. Any suggestions? TIA
 

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
26,145
29,499
New York
www.promalvacations.com
Thank you all for your responses. Just to clarify, I don't want anything from them. I was just wondering if anyone knew what their policy was or how I could find out what it was regarding the return trip. The part where it says "we can also change your return to match the same length of stay if necessary." I understand bad weather, I understand rules, I just want to understand what the official policy is on this return piece and why I would keep getting different information from different agents. Perhaps it is, as jsn55 commented, that they just wanted to get me off the phone. Regardless, there should be a way for me to find out what the official policy on that return is. Any suggestions? TIA
Apparently there were no flights they could put you on in a reciprocal airline. They followed DOT guidelines do there is not much more you can do. Remember they had a whole plane full of people they had to rebook, not just you.
 

RHR

Jan 3, 2017
6
1
62
Thanks, Neil. Sorry if I'm not clear, I got conflicting information about whether they could extend the date of return and that is what I am asking about - where to find out what their policy is on that.
 

Carrie Livingston

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Jan 6, 2015
1,661
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St Louis
@Neil , what @RHR is wondering is what is Air Canada's policy when his flight is delayed? It states that ...
If your Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or Air Canada Express flight* is cancelled, our agents will do everything possible to assist you. In an effort to accommodate your travel plans, we will:
  • Rebook you:
    • on the next available Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or Air Canada Express flight (in the cabin you originally purchased) within 7 days of your original travel date - we can also change your return to match the same length of stay if necessary; or
    • on a flight with another airline with which Air Canada has an agreement for such transportation, if circumstances permit.
He wanted to extend his stay the same length as his delay and had to fight to accomplish that while he should have been enjoying France. @RHR did you fly to France on AC? I realize you traveled from another airport but was it on the same carrier?
 
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jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
11,169
13,522
San Francisco
If you read this thread from the beginning, it absolutely spotlights the problems with airlines these days. You can read their "policy" until you turn blue, but the agents don't read it, and they all give you answers seemingly off the tops of their heads, and they do whatever they please. It's really astonishing when you consider that flying is part of the 'hospitality' sector, and the tables have been completely turned around from offering hospitality to a customer. Now they just figure out the quickest way to get you to go away.
 
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RHR

Jan 3, 2017
6
1
62
@Neil , what @RHR is wondering is what is Air Canada's policy when his flight is delayed? It states that ...
If your Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or Air Canada Express flight* is cancelled, our agents will do everything possible to assist you. In an effort to accommodate your travel plans, we will:
  • Rebook you:
    • on the next available Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or Air Canada Express flight (in the cabin you originally purchased) within 7 days of your original travel date - we can also change your return to match the same length of stay if necessary; or
    • on a flight with another airline with which Air Canada has an agreement for such transportation, if circumstances permit.
He wanted to extend his stay the same length as his delay and had to fight to accomplish that while he should have been enjoying France. @RHR did you fly to France on AC? I realize you traveled from another airport but was it on the same carrier?
Thank you for your message. We flew on another carrier from another airport after getting the runaround on the policy from multiple agents. Felt lucky we got an agent who used another airline and airport for the outgoing flight. That was also our experience trying to get the return. We finally found an agent who was willing to extend the stay by putting us on another airline to another NYC airport. We were first told we had 7 days to try and find flights that would allow us to match the same length of stay. Then, we were told that we had to make those changes within the first 48 hrs of travel and that 48 hrs was calculated from the date of our original departure - even though that flight was cancelled and we didn't depart until 24 hrs. later. As I said, in the end we felt lucky to get an agent who helped us, but I am unclear why this was so difficult.
 
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Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
26,145
29,499
New York
www.promalvacations.com
Well I am confused- title says flight cancelled, not delayed.

Here is what Air Canada says for flight delays (this is right on their website)


http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/delays/fl_delays.html

  • 2 hours or more:
    • You may change your reservation** at no cost by choosing a new departure date within 7 days of your original travel date. If you change your departing flight, you can also, at the same time, choose a new return flight to match the same length of stay, if necessary.
    • You may retain the unused portion of your ticket and use it toward future travel on Air Canada.
    • You may request a refund for the unused portion of your ticket.
    • When the delay is caused by circumstances within Air Canada's control, an Air Canada airport agent will offer you a voucher for use at an airport restaurant or for our Air Canada Café service.
  • 8 hours or more:
    • For circumstances within Air Canada's control - If your flight has been rescheduled to depart the next day, you may be entitled to meal vouchers, transportation to and from the airport as well as hotel accommodations (subject to availability) . Ask an Air Canada airport agent for assistance.
    • For circumstances outside Air Canada's control - If your flight has been rescheduled to depart the next day, Air Canada representatives will provide you with hotel contact information where you can obtain valued customer rates.
 

RHR

Jan 3, 2017
6
1
62
Yes, the flight was cancelled, I think there was a mistake in Carrie's post referring to the flight being delayed. I think the main point is that there was conflicting info. given by Air Canada agents and I don't believe that should be the case when the info. on the website seems pretty clear (see italics, bold below).

https://beta.aircanada.com/ca/en/ac...mation/delayed-flights-and-cancellations.html

Flight cancellations
Some cancellations are within an airline's control, whereas others, like those caused by severe weather or airport and air traffic disruptions, are simply out of our hands. Whatever the reason for the cancellation, Air Canada will be there to assist you.

If your Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or Air Canada Express flight* is cancelled, our agents will do everything possible to assist you. In an effort to accommodate your travel plans, we will:

  • Rebook you:
    • on the next available Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or Air Canada Express flight (in the cabin you originally purchased) within 7 days of your original travel date - we can also change your return to match the same length of stay if necessary; or
 

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
26,145
29,499
New York
www.promalvacations.com
Yes, the flight was cancelled, I think there was a mistake in Carrie's post referring to the flight being delayed. I think the main point is that there was conflicting info. given by Air Canada agents and I don't believe that should be the case when the info. on the website seems pretty clear (see italics, bold below).

https://beta.aircanada.com/ca/en/ac...mation/delayed-flights-and-cancellations.html

Flight cancellations
Some cancellations are within an airline's control, whereas others, like those caused by severe weather or airport and air traffic disruptions, are simply out of our hands. Whatever the reason for the cancellation, Air Canada will be there to assist you.

If your Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or Air Canada Express flight* is cancelled, our agents will do everything possible to assist you. In an effort to accommodate your travel plans, we will:

  • Rebook you:
    • on the next available Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or Air Canada Express flight (in the cabin you originally purchased) within 7 days of your original travel date - we can also change your return to match the same length of stay if necessary; or
Thank you. I believe this is what I posted in the first place along with the DOT rules on what the airline is required to do.