Air travel: terms and conditions of carriage (tariffs)

What are your rights and responsibilities when flying?

Travellers and air carriers both have rights and responsibilities. These obligations are set out in a detailed contract called a "tariff."

A tariff must contain a carrier's fares, rates, charges and terms and conditions of carriage applicable to the air service provided and other incidental services. It informs the passenger of the contractual responsibilities of the air carrier and establishes and legally limits those responsibilities. It also outlines the air carrier's policies with respect to its terms and conditions of carriage.  For instance, a tariff establishes a carrier's limits of liability; it states the circumstances when an air carrier may refuse transportation to passengers; it limits the amount of free baggage and establishes check-in time limits.

Your ticket is proof of payment and evidence that a contract exists between the passenger and an air carrier. A passenger's ticket only contains some of the information that appears in the tariff.

The tariff is the contract between you and your carrier – it covers your rights and obligations as passenger and your air carrier's rights and responsibilities to you.

Who must have a tariff?

Every air carrier that offers and/or sells tickets to the public for travel to, from and within Canada must have a tariff.

What are a carrier's responsibilities to its tariff?

A carrier's tariff must be clear, reasonable and not unduly discriminatory. 

Carriers must also abide by the terms and conditions set out in their tariff.

If you think that a carrier hasn't respected the terms of its tariff or its tariff is unclear, unreasonable or unduly discriminatory, you may be able to file a complaint.

What's included in a tariff?

Tariffs include general "terms and conditions" that apply to all passengers, regardless of the fare they paid.

Terms and conditions must set out the air carrier's policies on at least the following matters:

  • the carriage of persons with disabilities
  • acceptance of children for travel
  • compensation for denied boarding (as a result of overbooking)
  • passenger re-routing
  • failure to operate the service or operate on schedule
  • refund for services purchased but not used, whether in whole or in part, either as a result of the client's unwillingness or inability to continue or the carrier's inability to provide the service for any reason.
  • ticket reservation, cancellation, confirmation, validity and loss
  • refusal to transport passengers and goods
  • how charges are calculated and applied
  • limits of liability for passengers and goods (and exclusions from liability)
  • time limits for claims (and procedures to be followed)

Tariffs also include fares and the supporting "fare rules" that apply to specific fares.

Fare rules address matters specific to the fare that you have purchased like:

  • advanced booking requirements
  • minimum and maximum stay requirements
  • whether your ticket is refundable or if there are penalties to change your ticket

Learn more about air carrier tariff requirements.

Where can you find a carrier's tariff?

Air carriers are required by law to make their tariff available upon request.

You can find a carrier's tariff at:

  • any airport terminal where the carrier operates
  • a ticket office operated by the carrier
  • the carrier's website (if the site is used to sell tickets)

The Agency maintains a list of air carrier tariffs posted on websites.

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