How to Claim Canada & EU Compensation for Cancelled Flights

Air travel can be unpredictable, and unfortunately, flight cancellations are a part of the journey. But here's a valuable piece of information: under EU law, you might be entitled to claim flight cancellation compensation in Canada, potentially amounting to up to US$650. Yes, that's right, even if the airline has arranged an alternative flight for you. We'll provide you with comprehensive insights into airline cancellation compensation, ensuring you're well-informed about your rights and options in case of a cancelled flight flying to and from Canada. Don't miss out on what you could be owed! Check for free with AirHelp if you are eligible to claim cash compensation.

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What do you if your flight is cancelled?

Air travel can be an adventure, but it's not always a smooth one. Sometimes, flight cancellations become an unavoidable part of your journey. These cancellations can occur for a variety of reasons, such as adverse weather conditions or security concerns, and can disrupt your travel plans significantly.

But here's a valuable piece of information: when an airline cancels your flight, you may have the right to claim flight cancellation compensation in Canada under EU regulations. Specifically, EC 261 outlines passengers' entitlement to reimbursement for cancelled flights, provided certain criteria are met. If you qualify under EC 261, the airline is obligated to compensate you with up to €600.

Moreover, the Montreal Convention (MC99) is relevant to all international flights operating outside of Europe between countries and territories that adhere to this regulation. Currently, more than 135 countries and territories recognize the Montreal Convention. The MC99 applies exclusively to international flights. It does not cover domestic flights within a single country.

What makes this important is that it allows passengers to claim flight cancellation compensation for various damages. If you miss a prepaid reservation, incur expenses for an extra night at a hotel, or face other unforeseen costs due to air travel disruptions, you may be eligible for reimbursement, with a maximum limit of $7,000.

Understanding your rights and entitlements regarding flight cancellation compensation, whether travelling to Canada or to Europe, is crucial when facing unexpected disruptions during your travels. Both EC 261 and the Montreal Convention offer valuable avenues for compensation for cancelled flights, depending on the circumstances and the nature of your flight. Don't miss out on what you may be owed when your travel plans take an unexpected turn.

What counts as flight cancellation?

When it comes to flight cancellation compensation in Canada or the EU, it's crucial to grasp what constitutes a cancelled flight, as it involves both the airline and the passenger.

From the airline's perspective, a flight is considered cancelled if the aircraft never departs from the tarmac. In accordance with EC 261, a flight is officially defined as cancelled when it meets the following criteria:

"The non-operation of a flight which was previously planned and on which at least one seat was reserved."

For you, the passenger, to qualify for compensation for a cancelled flight, you must have indeed booked a ticket for the specific flight in question.

It's important to note that a flight that experiences a delayed departure, often referred to as a delayed flight, does not fall under the category of a cancelled flight. Therefore, the regulations surrounding last-minute and international flight cancellation compensation do not apply to delayed flights.

Are You Eligible to Claim Compensation in Canada and EU for Cancelled Flights ?

Canada air passengers enjoy specific rights concerning flight cancellations when journeying to and from Europe. These rights encompass opportunities for Canadians to claim compensation under various regulations, most notably EC 261. In the unfortunate event of a cancelled flight, if you find yourself stranded, there's a possibility that you could file a claim and secure a substantial payout of up to US$650 (€600) in European flight cancellation compensation.

Nevertheless, unravelling your eligibility can be somewhat intricate, as certain conditions must align. To provide clarity on whether you meet the criteria for this valuable cancelled flight compensation in Canada, let's delve into the pivotal factors at play:

  • Your flight was going to take off in the EU (flights to the EU also qualify in some cases).

  • You need to have a confirmed reservation shown by a booking reservation (with information like the flight number, name of passenger etc.) of the flight.

  • The airline notifies the passenger of the cancellation less than 14 days before the flight is set to depart.

  • Your flight is cancelled by not-so-extraordinary circumstances like “technical difficulties” or “operational circumstances”. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has repeatedly stated that those don’t qualify as “extraordinary circumstances”, which means the airline must still oblige by EC 261 obligations and pay you compensation.

  • Under a recent ruling by the ECJ, internal ‘wildcat strikes’ by flight staff do not constitute as ‘extraordinary circumstances’. Therefore, airlines must now compensate air passengers for flight delays and cancellations, when an airline strike is to blame.

Cancelled Flight Compensation EU: Under which circumstances are passengers not covered under EC 261?

Under EC 261, in the following circumstances, passengers are not entitled to claim flight cancelled compensation EU.

Advance warning

Providing the airline informed passengers of the flight cancellation 14 days or more in advance.

Extraordinary circumstances are not covered.

An airline can avoid liability if the delay is caused by “extraordinary circumstances”.

These include situations like lightning strikes, medical emergencies, airport employee strikes or air traffic control strikes, serious adverse weather conditions, air traffic control restrictions, sudden malfunctioning of the airport radar, acts of sabotage, political unrest, acts of terrorism… you get the idea.

Does snow count as a ‘serious adverse weather condition’?

It depends on whether or not the airline could have prevented the problem.

If, for example, the airline failed to ensure that there were sufficient supplies of de-icer before the onset of winter, it could be held responsible for the delay—especially if flights operated by other airlines were able to depart on time.

Airline strikes do not fall under extraordinary circumstances

In April 2018, the ECJ made a ruling stating that, internal ‘wildcat strikes’ by flight staff do not constitute as ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

Therefore, airlines must now compensate air passengers for flight delays and cancellations, when an airline strike is to blame.

Free of charge

Passengers travelling free of charge (e.g. air hostess) or at a reduced fare not available directly, or indirectly to the public are not eligible to flight cancellation compensation.

Cancelled flights: Re-routing

Under EC 261, all cancelled flights are covered, apart from when the airline has given you 14 days’ notice. But there’s a catch.

If the airline offers to re-route you, it can avoid paying European flight cancellation compensation if the following criteria are met:

Advance NoticeRe-routing Requirements
14 Days❌ None
7 - 13 Days✔️ Alternative flight departing no more than 2 hours before and arriving less than 4 hours after the original flight
Less than 7 Days✔️ Alternative flight departing no more than 1 hours before and arriving less than 2 hours after the original flight

If your flight was delayed, canceled or overbooked within the last 3 years, you could be eligible for up to €600 in compensation.

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Flight cancellation rights: Under EC 261, what are you entitled to if your flight is cancelled?

We’re glad you asked! We’ve included a few highlights below. In addition to compensation for your loss of time, you are entitled to either:

  • A full or partial refund of your original ticket and a return flight to your point of departure.

  • The earliest possible alternative transport to your final destination.

  • A new ticket to your final destination at a later date of your choosing, subject to availability.


You could be eligible for a flight cancellation claim as much as €600.

Reimbursement or rerouting + compensation

According to EC 261, when a flight is cancelled, you should be offered the choice between:

Reimbursement within seven days of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought and, when relevant, a return flight to the first point of departure,


Re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at the earliest opportunity or rerouting, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at a later date

What is the relation between right to compensation, reimbursement and rerouting?

Reimbursement or rerouting + compensation!


If the airline notifies you of the cancellation less than 14 days departure, you can be entitled to compensation.

Free perks

When you’re stuck waiting for the airline to get you back on track, you’re entitled to a number of free perks, depending on your flight details.

The carrier must provide you with meals and refreshments during the delay as well as access to communications, including two telephone calls, telefax or fax messages, and emails.

If you need overnight accommodation, they must provide you with a hotel room and transport to and from the airport.

Upgrading and downgrading

If you’re offered an alternative flight and are lucky enough to be placed in a higher class than the one you booked, the carrier cannot charge you any additional payment. On the other hand, if the class of the alternative flight is lower, you can get a reimbursement of between 30-75% of the price you originally paid.

How is Canada and EU Flight Cancellation Compensation Calculated?

When confronted with a last-minute flight cancellation, whether travelling to Canada or to Europe, it's essential to know that you might be eligible for compensation. EC 261 lays out specific compensation amounts for such claims, potentially reaching up to a substantial €600 per person.

However, the precise compensation for cancelled flights figure is contingent upon several key factors, including:

Travel Distance: The distance you were originally set to travel plays a pivotal role in determining the airline cancellation compensation.

Flight Location: Whether your flight was operating within the EU or not affects the compensation calculation.

Delay Duration: The length of the delay, determined by how much later the alternate flight would arrive at your final destination, is a significant factor in the compensation equation.

Understanding these nuances can be a bit intricate, so to simplify matters, we've prepared a clear and informative chart for your reference. This chart will help you navigate the complexities of flight cancellation compensation for Canada air passengers.

Length of delay
Less than 3 hours3 – 4 hoursMore than 4 hoursNever arrivedDistance
❌ € –✔️ €250✔️ €250✔️ €250All flights 1,500 km or less
❌ € –✔️ €400✔️ €400✔️ €400Internal EU flights over 1,500 km
❌ € –✔️ €400✔️ €400✔️ €400Non-internal EU flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km
❌ € –✔️ €300✔️ €600✔️ €600Non-internal EU flights over 3,500 km

What it boils down to is that the compensation of your flight cancellation may be halved if you accept an alternative flight.

If you decline the re-routing, you’ll get the amount in the ‘Never arrived’ column, as well as a refund of your ticket price and a return flight to your original departure location, if necessary.

Am you entitled to compensation for a cancelled flight? Let AirHelp enforce your rights

Why choose AirHelp?

  • AirHelp is the leading flight compensation company in the world, helping passengers understand their rights and get compensation for delayed or cancelled flights, and in instances of denied boarding.

  • AirHelp is the best-rated flight compensation company in the world with a 9.5 score on Trustpilot.

  • We have already helped more than 16 million passengers to get up to €600 in compensation.

  • To avoid the burden of time and navigating the complex legal system.

  • Airlines may deny your initial claim or ignore your claim request entirely, our team tackle bureaucratic hurdles to get you the money you deserve.

What does AirHelp charge to claim flight delay?

AirHelp will get no fee unless you get compensated.

Steps to take when your flight is cancelled

If you’re going to file a compensation claim under EC 261, you can expect some pushback from the airline. Just because the law is on your side doesn’t mean they are going to be enthusiastic – or swift – about paying you. If you’re travelling to or from the European Union, here’s what to do when your flight is unexpectedly scrubbed:

  • Hold onto your boarding pass and add any other travel documents.

  • Ask why the flight is canceled.

  • Request an alternate flight to your destination or refund.

  • Make a note of the arrival time at your destination.

  • Ask the airline to pay for your meals and refreshments.

  • Don’t sign anything or accept any offers that may waive your rights.

  • Get the airline to provide you with a hotel room.

  • Keep your receipts if your canceled flight ends up costing you extra money.

I have a connecting flight—is the whole journey eligible?

If you have just one flight, travel distance is a factor when determining how much money you are eligible for. But if you have a multi-flight trip, it’s possible that only part of it will be factored into your compensation. To determine this, your journey must meet a couple of conditions:

  • The flights must be under one booking, not purchased individually

  • Your flight disruption must be eligible under EC 261

When a flight cancellation happens to meet the criteria above, the carrier operating that flight is responsible for compensating you. To figure out the eligible distance, the disrupted flights and any legs that come after it are factored in.

Any legs of the journey that came before the disruption might be included as well, as long as they were operated by the same carrier responsible for the cancellation and there were no intervening flights operated by a different carrier.

To sum up, if one airline causes an issue, it will usually be responsible for all of its own flights, even if they came before the disruption, as well as any later flights that are affected, even if they are with a different airline.

Some EU courts interpret the regulation differently and may not include prior connecting flights in the eligible distance. The quickest way to check your eligibility is by entering your flight details in the box below.

Is there a time limit to file my claim?

Your right to compensation under EC 261 does eventually expire, so it’s important to know the Statute of Limitations for your claim.

This varies from one country to the next and is determined by where the headquarters of the airline is or what court has jurisdiction in cases concerning the airline.

If your flight was delayed, canceled or overbooked within the last 3 years, you could be eligible for up to €600 in compensation.

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Are there any other rights that come with EC 261?

Further compensation

Your right to compensation under EC 261 does not affect your right to request further compensation.

This rule does not apply in cases where passengers have voluntarily surrendered their reservations. Of course, the amount you are entitled to under EC 261 may be deducted from whatever additional compensation you receive.

Obligation to inform passengers about flight cancellation compensation

Your first basic right is to be informed about the content of EC 261. Every airline has to display information on passengers’ rights at their check-in counters at every airport in which they operate.

If you’d like to get even closer to the law, you can read the actual text of EC 261. And last but not least, here’s our man Scott with the basics of air passenger rights.

Flight cancellations UK—what about Brexit?

These flight cancellation rights fall under the regulations for EU flight delay compensation. Consequently, they apply until the UK officially leaves the union.

Time will tell how this impacts the UK but until then, the regulations stated above are the current law.

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