Denied Boarding (Canada): FAQ

“Voluntary denied boarding” is a situation when a passenger voluntarily gives up their confirmed booking on a flight, at the airline’s request, in exchange for benefits offered by the airline. Passengers who volunteer to be denied boarding are not entitled to compensation beyond what has been offered by the airline and accepted by the passenger.

“Involuntary denied boarding” is a situation where the airline refuses to carry a passenger on the flight on which the passenger holds a confirmed booking, even though they presented themselves for check-in and boarding on time (except where there are reasonable grounds to deny them boarding, such as reasons of health, security, or inadequate travel documentation). Passengers who are involuntarily denied boarding are entitled to prescribed compensation.

The amount of denied boarding compensation is based on the delay incurred at the "final destination," and is measured as the difference between the actual arrival time and the scheduled arrival time.

If your itinerary consists of several directly connecting flights (i.e., without a scheduled stopover), then the “final destination” is the destination of the last flight.

The "actual arrival time" is the time when at least one of the doors of the aircraft is opened and passengers are permitted to leave the aircraft.

Denied boarding compensation must be paid immediately, at the airport where the incident takes place.

Denied boarding compensation must be paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques. The airline may provide travel vouchers or other services only if you agree in writing.

If you agree to accept denied boarding compensation in travel vouchers:

  1. the amount must be at least 300% of the amount the airline is required to pay in cash;
  2. the airline must disclose all terms and conditions, including restrictions and expiry, of the vouchers provider; and
  3. within a reasonable amount of time (typically, one month), you may change your mind, and ask for cash instead of vouchers.

Constructive or de facto denied boarding is a situation where the airline’s actions indirectly prevent you from boarding your flight for no fault of your own, and your flight departs without you.

Examples of constructive or de facto denied boarding include moving you to a different flight without your consent, or misinforming you about the departure time or place of your flight.

No. “Denied boarding compensation” is owed only if you are involuntarily denied boarding, and the flight leaves without you.

You may be owed compensation for the the cancellation of your flight, though, under the Montreal Convention.

Yes, unless the airline establishes that the events prompting the substitution were beyond its control and it took all reasonable measures to avoid the substitution or it was impossible to take such measures.

The airline’s mistake does not affect your rights as a passenger who was involuntarily denied boarding, and you are owed compensation accordingly.

The airline is required to staff its check-in counters until the cut-off time for checking in prescribed in the conditions of carriage. If you can prove that you presented yourself on time, then you were involuntarily denied boarding, and are owed compensation accordingly.

If the airline was in error in claiming that you did not have the required travel documents, then you were involuntarily denied boarding, and are owed compensation accordingly.

If the airline was correct and you did not have the required travel documents, then you are owed no compensation or assistance, because it is the passenger’s responsibility to have all necessary travel documents, including visas and travel authorizations. You may nevertheless be owed a refund of your unused segments under the airline’s terms and conditions (tariff).

If the airline falsely accused you of “unruly behaviour,” then you were involuntarily denied board, and are owed compensation accordingly.

If your behaviour did pose a risk to the safety of the flight, then the airline had every right to refuse you transportation, and you are owed no compensation or other assistance. You may nevertheless be owed a refund of your unused segments under the airline’s terms and conditions (tariff).