Fly Smart: From point A to point B and home again

With millions of passengers around the world travelling every year, air travel has become a part of life. You need to be able to make informed decisions when you make your travel plans.

The Canadian Transportation Agency is here to ensure that our transportation system is one that is competitive, efficient and accessible. We want to help you in your travel planning by providing useful information about flying to, from and within Canada. In this publication, you will find what is important to know about the rules that apply to air passengers and Canadian and foreign carriers, travel documents, your tickets, your baggage, insurance coverage and special requests – to get you from the early stages of planning a trip, right through to the airport and back home.

Transportation matters to us. Should you encounter difficulties which you are unable to resolve yourself directly with your air carrier, we may be able to assist you in resolving your travel complaint.

Transcript: Airline ticket and tariff

NARRATOR: Dealing with airline ticket issues can be frustrating and if you make a mistake, it can often lead to extra fees or being refused transport by the airline.

So, what is your ticket exactly?

The ticket you purchase is proof you have a contract with that airline and there is supposed to be a seat with your name on it.

(clearing throat)

Actually, your name is on the ticket…not literally on the seat.

And like any contract, you should make sure you understand the terms and conditions before you commit to paying.

You wouldn't sign a mortgage or a car lease without knowing what's in the fine print, would you?

It's the same with an airline ticket. Each airline has its own terms and conditions in a document called a "tariff".

You can give the airline a call, visit their ticket counter or go to their website.

There's information about what happens if you make a mistake while booking like spelling your name wrong or entering the wrong date.

You may have to pay extra fees to fix a mistake or you could even be refused transport.

It's your responsibility to make sure you've entered the correct information when booking...and if you realize you've made a mistake, contact the airline immediately.

Look at it this way. An airline ticket is a binding contract that involves spending your hard earned cash.

Having a good understanding of an airline's terms and conditions and having issues clarified before you buy a ticket helps to eliminate unpleasant surprises, extra fees and frustration.

Fly Smart. Know Your Rights & Responsibilities.

Transcript: Baggage limits, fees and liability

NARRATOR: How many bags can you take on your trip… without having to pay extra fees, that is.

And what happens if the airline loses your bags?

The answers to these questions depend on the airline you're flying with.

It's important to be aware of its terms and conditions relating to baggage limits, fees and compensation for lost, delayed or damaged bags, especially now that many airlines charge for checked baggage or they limit the number of bags that you may carry on board.

So where do you find out about an airline's baggage policy?

You can give them a call, visit their ticket counter or go to their website. Each airline lists its terms and conditions of carriage in a document called their "tariff". It is your contract with the airline.

You'll find information on how many bags you can check-in or bring into the cabin as carry-on.

Remember that allowable weight, size and any fees for extra bags can vary from airline to airline.

Compensation amounts for lost, delayed or damaged bags are also listed in airlines' tariffs.


  • always keep your receipts for replacement items;
  • there is a maximum to how much an airline will compensate you; and
  • there is a time limit to file your claim.

When in doubt, contact your airline or check out your airline's tariff before your trip.

The Canadian Transportation Agency also provides resources that can help.

Fly Smart. Know Your Rights & Responsibilities.

Transcript: Check-ins, bumping, delays and cancellations

NARRATOR: There's a variety of reasons why you could end up missing your flight.

It could be that you were too late for your flight's check-in deadline.

It could be due to bad weather.

It could be that your flight is either delayed, overbooked or cancelled.

To know your rights and responsibilities, in any of these situations, it's best to get familiar with an airline's "tariff". You can find it on their web site or any place they do business.

A tariff is the airline's terms and conditions of carriage: your contract with the airline.

It contains information on the airline's legal obligations in cases of changes to their scheduled flights.

In those instances, airlines might offer you a refund or rebook you. But you shouldn't automatically assume that they will.  An airline's legal obligation will vary depending on the circumstances.

If you miss your airline's check-in deadline, the airline can refuse to transport you.

Airlines have strict deadlines. Being late at the check-in or even the baggage drop-off area can result in your reserved seat being reassigned or your reservation being cancelled and you missing your flight.

Check-in times for domestic and international flights are different and vary depending on the airline.

With most airlines, you may be able to check-in online, usually 24 hours before your flight leaves. But you still have a deadline to arrive at the gate for your flight and to check in your baggage.

If you're not sure, check with the airline and find out about the terms and conditions that apply to your ticket.

The Canadian Transportation Agency also has useful tips and tools for travelers that can help.

It's an easy way to reduce the risk of missing your flight.

Fly Smart. Know Your Rights & Responsibilities.

Transcript: Facilitation process

Unfortunately, sometimes your travel arrangements don't always go as planned. And if you feel you have a real issue to take up with your airline, you want to be heard, you want action, and you want resolution.

So what are your options? First of all, be informed before you travel. The Canadian Transportation Agency offers handy tools to help you prepare your trip, including its Fly Smart guide and links to major airlines' tariffs.

An airline's tariff lists your rights and responsibilities as a passenger, as well as those of the airline. It's your contract when you buy your airline ticket.

It's important to remember that tariffs vary from airline to airline. In other words, one airline might address a complaint differently from another airline.

But if after reviewing your airline's tariff, you feel that it hasn't kept its end of the bargain, the fastest way to reach a solution is to first give them a chance to address your complaint.

Before we can help, contact your airline in writing and allow it 30 days to respond in writing.

If the airline does not respond or if you are not satisfied, the Canadian Transportation Agency may be able to help. We are experts at resolving air travel complaints for travel within, to and from Canada.

We can help air travellers resolve complaints on issues like flight disruptions and delays, lost, delayed or damaged, baggage, or denied boarding or bumping due to overbooking.

Our Complaint Wizard guides you quickly through the complaint process from A to Z. It explains how we can help.

And our service standards for resolving your complaint.

First, we'll try facilitating your complaint. It's fast and easy, the vast majority of complaints are resolved this way.

If facilitation doesn't resolve the issue, you can try mediation, where one of our trained mediators will aim to help you and the airline reach a confidential settlement.

Where less formal processes don't prove successful, we also offer a court-like process called adjudication, where a panel will make a decision based on the evidence presented.

Ultimately, our job is to make sure that the airline has applied the terms and conditions of carriage of the contract and that both you and the airline have met your end of the bargain.

Of course, remember that the best way to avoid issues is to get informed before you travel.

Fly Smart. Know Your Rights & Responsibilities.

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