How to Get Compensation from Air Canada for Flight Delays, Damaged Baggage, and More

by | Published Sep 30, 2022 | Edited Nov 17, 2022


  1. How to Get Compensation from Air Canada for Flight Delays, Damaged Baggage, and More
  2. How to Get Compensation from WestJet

Recently I had the pleasure of going through several different claims processes for airline compensation as a result of my 19-hour Air Canada flight delay in Toronto on the way to my final destination of Iceland. 

Going through these processes, submitting different forms, receipts and so on, I realized that the process is a bit obtuse, and this is probably not an accident by the airlines.

So in this article I outline the claims process for 

  1. Flight Delay and Cancellation Compensation
  2. Flight Delay and Cancellation Reimbursement
  3. Damaged Baggage Claim

I’ll also hint at how I was able to double dip on some of these with my credit card insurance… You can debate the morality of this amongst yourself. However, the way I see it is this: the airline and insurance companies have no remorse in screwing you over, so why not screw them right back when you can.

robin hood gif

As a starting point, the Air Canada Customer Care page has links to most of the claim forms you will need to receive compensation for airline screw-ups. 

Air Canada Compensation for Flight Delays or Cancellations 

Canada, like many countries, has a set of regulations that govern compensation for airline passengers in the case of a delayed or cancelled flight – the Air Passenger Protection Regulations which are issued by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA). Unfortunately, Canada’s regulations have a bit of a loophole that airlines take advantage of: they only apply when the cause of delay or cancellation is “within the airline’s control” and not related to aircraft safety or maintenance issues. 

You can imagine that airlines, being corporate machines, will stretch the truth and blame delays on factors outside their control just to avoid having to compensate passengers. I’ve seen a variety of stated reasons such as

  • Unscheduled aircraft maintenance
  • Safety related issue
  • Crew constraints/crew shortage (how is this not within the airline’s control?) 
  • Extraordinary circumstances
  • [insert more vague excuses]

Nonetheless when the air passenger rights regulations apply, the airline should be compensating passengers for flight disruptions according to the following table:

Length of arrival delayAmount (CAD)
3 – 6 hours$400
6 – 9 hours$700
9+ hours$1,000

If you experience a flight delay or cancellation, I recommend applying for this compensation regardless of what the airline has communicated to you about the reason. On a previous trip to Iceland where I experienced a 19-hour delay, Air Canada’s Compensation Eligibility tool assessed that my flight was not eligible for compensation. However, I applied anyway and received an eCoupon for $300 for Air Canada. 

air canada flight delay compensation decline due to unscheduled mechanical maintenance
‘Unscheduled mechanical maintenance’…*rolls eyes*

To apply for flight delay compensation, you’ll want to complete a Flight Delay and Cancellation Claim Request Form. You’ll want to submit this for each passenger on your itinerary. Be prepared to provide basic information about yourself and the flight, including Air Canada flight number, flight date, ticket number, and booking reference. 

It took almost 30 days from the day I submitted the request form to the day I received a response with my $300 eCoupon code. 

I then promptly sold this coupon on eBay for $250, because who would ever pay money for flights when credit card points exist 😂.

air canada coupon sold on ebay,.ca
Yes – I am a scumbag who sells Air Canada vouchers on eBay for cash.

Air Canada Reimbursement for Flight Delays or Cancellations

Fortunately, even in the case where Air Canada won’t honor Air Passenger Protection Regulations, they are pretty good at reimbursing you for the cost you incurred as a result of a delay. 

For example, having to stay overnight at a hotel in Toronto, and having to uber 30 minutes to said hotel at 2:00 am because it was pride weekend and all nearby hotels were full… Yes, I am salty about this.

Anyways, to go about submitting expenses for reimbursement, from the main Customer Care page, select ‘Flight Delay or Cancellation Claim’ and then ‘Submit a claim/expense/comment’.

flight delay or cancellation air canada customer care

You will then complete some information about the Air Canada passengers, including yourself. If you have expenses that were paid for by your travel companion, definitely fill their information in here as well.

On the last page, you will be presented with a message field as well as a picture/document upload. 

air canada customer care form submission

This is where you can tell Air Canada how you really feel about them. Just kidding (sort of). Try to be tactful but clearly upset.  

My message was something like the below:

Subject: Flight Delay + Cancellation expenses

To Whom It May Concern,

On [date redacted] after my flight was delayed several hours, we were finally boarded at approximately midnight. After sitting on the plane for an hour and a half, we were informed that our flight would be cancelled and we would need to find a hotel ourselves. This was one of the worst travelling experiences I and my travelling companion have had. Not to mention we lost out on an entire day of our trip.

We have already submitted a compensation claim form, although it is my understanding that AC has ruled this delay as “unscheduled flight maintenance”. We would appreciate it if the hotel and Uber costs would be reimbursed by Air Canada promptly, as it was indicated to us that they would be compensated by the airline stewardess as we deboarded. 

Thus, we have attached the receipts for the same. We were instructed to submit these to “customer care” by the flight crew at the time of the flight cancellation.

The expenses are as follows:

  • Hotel in Toronto – $222.11
  • Uber to hotel in Toronto – $41.59
  • Uber to YYZ airport – $38.36

Thank you.

[names redacted]

Attach your receipts to match the expenses and then play the waiting game. About a month later I did receive an email from Customer Care indicating that we would be sent an Interac eTransfer for the indicated expenses, sans the tips.

Air Canada Reimbursement for Damaged Baggage

For damaged baggage, it is technically best to go find a customer service agent right away at the airport, who can submit a claim for you. However, sometimes you just want to get out of there.

In that case, you can still submit the claim online, but be prepared to provide more detailed picture evidence of the damage. Also, make sure to leave your bag tag on the bag for those pictures. 

To go about submitting a damaged baggage claim for reimbursement, from the main Customer Care page, select ‘Baggage Issues’ and then ‘Delayed or Damaged Baggage’.

air canada customer care delayed or damaged baggage

After entering the usual personal and flight information, you’ll have to provide information about your damaged baggage, including the tag number, brand name, purchase date, purchase price, and currency.

air canada damaged bag or other item details

Now I will provide you with some information. Do with this information what you will. Air Canada does not ask for receipts to prove the purchase price/date.

In my case, I was given my bag in near new condition by a friend. That doesn’t mean its value is $0. So I simply looked up the current value of the same model of the bag at my favorite luggage store. 

Finally, on the next screen, you can describe the damage that occurred, and attach clear images of the damage, along with the attached bag tag, and the brand of the bag. Submit and play the waiting game once again.

Unlike other delay compensation, Air Canada is quite fast in compensating damaged baggage. I received an Interac eTransfer for the amount about 10 business days following my submission.

air canada damaged baggage compensation
On top of that, I received a 20% off Air Canada base code which I promptly sold on eBay for another $250… 

Getting Compensated with Credit Card Insurance 

If your flight is delayed or canceled, baggage is delayed, lost or damaged, then you can also make claims through insurance coverage offered by your credit card. The process is similar, usually using an online portal to submit personal info, flight details, and expenses along with supporting receipts. 

Insurance coverage offered by credit cards is highly specific to the particular card, in terms of what types of expenses are covered, and other stipulations. But lately, I’ve found them to be easier to work with than airlines. 

Related: Credit Card Insurance & Award Travel Bookings: Which Card is Best?

When my Iceland flight was delayed, I submitted my expenses through both Air Canada Customer Care, and the insurance offered by my American Express Aeroplan Reserve credit card, which is what I used to pay for the taxes and fees on my Aeroplan award flight. 

american express rsa insurance group

Amex insurance is administered by the RSA group. After I submitted the expenses I didn’t hear anything back but ended up receiving a check in the mail only a few weeks later. This means I actually ‘double dipped’ – receiving compensation from both Amex and Air Canada.

rsa amex insurance claim delay of a common carrier

We were actually quite modest with what we expensed. When delays like this do occur, you can be quite a bit more generous with what you choose to purchase and claim. This is especially the case if you end up having to stay overnight, or find yourself without any of your clothes or belongings in a foreign place because your luggage hasn’t arrived.

Generally (again refer to your specific credit card), you can claim the following purchases within 48 hours of the delay:

  • Hotel accommodations
  • Transportation
  • Meals and drinks
  • ‘Essential’ items

Essentials is a broad catch-all category. Medicines, toothbrushes, and articles of clothing that you require can all be expensed through your credit card insurance depending on the circumstance. I know people who’ve expensed very pricey sunglasses, AirPods, and so on. It’s not your fault if you have expensive tastes 😜. 

Most credit cards do have a cap on the amount you can claim for one trip, usually around $1000, so do be mindful of that.  

Award flights are tricky with credit card insurance. Some credit cards stipulate that the entire flight must be charged to the card, while others are satisfied by just charging taxes and fees. We’ve covered this topic in detail in this article: Credit Card Travel Insurance for Award Flights.

What if the Airline Denies All Compensation? 

If the airline outright rejects your compensation request and you feel you’ve been unfairly denied compensation, there are further steps you can take.

One of these steps is to move forward with a small claims lawsuit against the airline. While this can sound daunting, it’s not quite as intensive as it sounds. Most cases don’t even actually end up going to court, and instead are settled by the airline prior to the court date.

Related: How to Get Compensation from WestJet

There is a Facebook group called Air Passenger Rights (Canada), which has several guides to the small claims process and over 85,000 members including some legal experts to help answer your questions if, god forbid, you ever have to go through this process. 

Conclusion

It’s never fun when a trip doesn’t go your way. Being stuck at an airport anxiously awaiting flight updates, having to find a hotel last minute, or purchasing replacement essentials isn’t a good way to start (or end) a trip that is supposed to be relaxing.

However, part of being a savvy traveler is being prepared for these things when they happen and being proactive in getting compensated for what you deserve. 

In some cases, you can even profit as a result. For example, on my recent Iceland trip where I had both a significant delay and damaged luggage, I was able to capitalize on the setbacks to make the trip nearly free. 

The overall trip was already an overall cost of just $2,000 CAD when it could have easily been $5,000+. But furthermore, through the compensation channels mentioned above, I was able to receive the following:

Flight Delay Compensation$300 AC eCoupon (sold for $250 cash)
Flight Delay Reimbursement – Air Canada$286.82
Flight Delay Reimbursement – Amex/RSA$302.05
Damaged Baggage Claim$450
Damaged Baggage Claim – Goodwill gesture20% AC Discount Code (sold for $250 cash)
TOTAL$1,588.87

So I can basically say that I went to Iceland for $400 CAD. Not too shabby!

If you’ve any experiences with airline compensation, for better or for worse, let us know in the comments below!

Reed Sutton

Reed Sutton

Founder at Frugal Flyer
Reed is addicted to the science (and art) of earning and redeeming travel points, and frequently pairs his trips with his other hobby: photography. Through Frugal Flyer, Reed aims to distill some of the complex and esoteric points strategies into digestible information. Furthermore, he hopes to use his technical expertise to develop invaluable applications and tools for the travel community.

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