Customer Service FAQs

This guide is designed to answer some commonly-asked questions about Air Canada's services, and offer some additional helpful information. We've provided answers which give you 'just the facts', some explanations 'behind the facts' and, where appropriate, helpful tips that go 'beyond the facts'.

About my ticket

Where's the best place to buy Air Canada tickets?

Just the facts:
One place you are guaranteed to find our lowest prices is aircanada.com, which you or your travel agent can use 24 hours a day from many countries around the world. An added benefit of aircanada.com is that you can change, cancel or upgrade bookings, as well as shop for hotels, cars and destination attractions from our homepage. You can even confirm the status of your flight or check in via the Web up to 24 hours before departure!

If you prefer to purchase your ticket with the help of a call centre agent, contact Air Canada Reservations from anywhere in North America at 1 (888) 247-2262, or view international contact information if you are calling from outside North America.

Similarly, travel agents are another excellent source of personalized service. Be sure to ask what fare type you'll be travelling on, and any important conditions on changes or cancellations. In North America, Air Canada has a very simple fare structure, but important differences exist between each fare type.

Beyond the facts:
If you're part of a group of 10 or more, please view information on Meetings and Conventions and Group Travel.

What additional charges can be added to my base fare?

Just the facts:
Like all other airlines, Air Canada must collect taxes, fees and charges for a variety of purposes, including national security, infrastructure enhancement and airport maintenance. Other foreign taxes, fees and charges are collected on behalf of foreign governments. Airlines also collect surcharges in an effort to partially offset the volatility of and fluctuations in operating costs, such as the costs associated with the use of Canada's and other foreign countries' air navigational infrastructure and services, and the costs associated with the price of fuel.

The amount you pay in taxes, fees, charges and surcharges on a ticket varies according to your itinerary (e.g. the number of times you board a new flight and at what airport). For example, on a typical ticket for an international itinerary, you can expect to pay:
  • GST and PST/QST,
  • foreign taxes, fees and charges,
  • an airport improvement fee (levied by various airports across the country to fund airport improvements),
  • a federal air traveller's security charge (to fund security personnel and security equipment), and
  • surcharges such as navigational and fuel surcharges.
We are committed to being as transparent as possible about which taxes, fees, charges and surcharges are collected with your purchase. For this reason:
  • Our Special Offers and Select Flight pages display the base fare amount in addition to the approximate taxes, fees, charges and surcharges associated with a given itinerary, as well as the total price associated with the itinerary.
  • You can see the total price you will have to pay and the breakdown of the amounts of applicable taxes and fees as well as other charges and surcharges for your itinerary in the Quote Details on the Review Flight Details page (prior to purchase) and again on your itinerary-receipt (after purchase).

Your travel agent should also be able to explain taxes, fees, charges and surcharges to you.

Beyond the facts:
We invite you to learn more about the taxes, fees, charges and surcharges that may be added to your ticket at time of purchase.

What happens if I buy a ticket and an emergency disrupts my travel?

Just the facts:
If you are buying a non-refundable ticket, please be advised that, beyond 24 hours of purchase*, Air Canada cannot make any exception to the fare rules in the event that an unexpected medical emergency or other unforeseen circumstances may force you to cancel your trip or modify your travel plans. It therefore remains your responsibility to purchase cancellation insurance to guard against such risks.

Behind the facts:
A non-refundable ticket offers no options in the event that an unexpected medical emergency or other unforeseen circumstance forces you to cancel your trip or modify your travel plans.

The best advice here is to prepare and plan for the unexpected. Many travellers consider the purchase of cancellation insurance as a good investment against such risks. Some payment cards also cover trip cancellations; check with your bank or service provider. The time to make these decisions is when you purchase your ticket. RBC Travel Insurance is available via aircanada.com should you wish to protect your ticket's value.

*Air Canada will cancel any purchased ticket and provide a full refund without penalty up to 24 hours after purchase.

Can I get a refund for the ticket I didn't use?

Just the facts:
Beyond 24 hours of purchase, many tickets (e.g. many promotional or seat sale tickets) are non refundable, while others may be subject to a refund penalty which limits their refundable value. In most cases, the words "non-refundable" or "non-ref" are clearly printed on the ticket and ticket receipt. For this reason, you should always be aware, at the time of purchase, if your ticket is refundable and under what conditions.

* Air Canada will cancel any purchased ticket and provide a full refund without penalty up to 24 hours after purchase.

If your ticket is refundable:
If your ticket is refundable, you need to know how to get the refund. Frequent travellers know from experience that electronic or e-ticketing remains the easiest method of both purchasing a ticket and ensuring quick processing of refundable fares. But there are other ways to get your refund. The travel agency which issued your ticket will process applicable refunds for paper and electronic tickets. Agents at Air Canada airports or city sales offices can also process refunds. Air Canada's Refund Services page provides you with all the information you'll require.

If your ticket is not refundable:
All tickets are refundable without penalty up to 24 hours after purchase. Beyond 24 hours of purchase, most of the great promotional or seat sale tickets are seldom refundable (that's part of why they're such great deals), and must be used on the ticketed date of travel. Certain tickets allow for no changes or refunds at all. Other tickets may allow changes (other than a name change) for a fee.

One fully unused non-refundable ticket may be applied as a credit towards the purchase of one new ticket in the passenger's name. Travel must commence within 1 year of date of original issue. If the fare for the new journey is lower, any residual amount will be forfeited. Additional fare amount and change fees may apply.

Behind the facts:
The best time to decide about refundability is when buying your ticket. Familiarize yourself with our refund policies, and take the time to select a ticket that suits all of your needs at the outset.

Beyond the facts:
If you have questions about the refundability of a ticket, you can bring it to a ticketing specialist at your travel agency or the Air Canada ticket counter; they will be able to explain your options to you.

About my special needs

What services do you offer for customers with limited mobility, extra physical considerations or particular dietary needs?

Just the facts:
With a little advance notice, we are happy to help meet your special needs at each step of your journey.

We'll be happy to provide assistance with:
  • Pre-selecting seats,
  • Check-in and proceeding to the boarding area,
  • Boarding and deplaning,
  • Special meals (not available on Air Canada Café flights),
  • Tagging mobility aids (e.g. canes, walkers and wheelchairs) as priority baggage,
  • Stowing and retrieving baggage and mobility aids,
  • Proceeding to the public arrivals area

We will also provide individual safety briefings to visually and/or hearing impaired customers and, in most cases, will accommodate certified and trained service animals aboard our flights.

Behind the facts:
Special services are one way in which we try to serve all our customers according to their needs and preferences. It's also one of the ways we differentiate ourselves from other airlines.

Our only request is that you give the Air Canada Medical Assistance Desk as much advance notice as you can (48 hours or more is required) so that we can be ready to make your flight as smooth as possible. Please also give yourself extra time when arriving at the airport and checking in to allow us to better serve you.

You can reach the Air Canada Medical Assistance Desk as follows:

Phone:  
1-800-667-4732 (toll-free between Canada and the U.S.)
1-514-369-7039 (long distance charges apply)*

Hours of operation (ET):
Monday to Friday: 6am to 8pm
Saturday and Sunday: 6am to 6pm

*If you’re calling from outside Canada or the United States, contact Air Canada Reservations and ask for the Medical Assistance Desk.

You can also ask your travel agent at least 48 hours before departure to arrange the services you require.

I am travelling with my baby - what do I need to do?

Just the facts:
Apart from the obvious need to have infinite patience, we'd like to offer some useful advice on travelling with an infant or child.

Beyond the facts:
The wonder of flying is infectious to people of all ages, and to none more so than a young child. Make the flight as stress-free and entertaining as possible by arriving at the airport early, bringing your child's favourite food and a small (quiet) toy or blanket. If your child hasn't quite caught the wonder of travel yet, a small smile and acknowledgement to your grimacing neighbour usually goes a long way in breaking the ice.

How do you take care of young children travelling alone on your flights?

We offer a special Unaccompanied Minor (UM) service for children age 8 and up who are travelling alone. The service is available on non-stop flights only.

Our UM service is highly personalized for your child. Accordingly, a fee applies each way per child.

Beyond the facts:
This service ensures that your child travelling alone is accompanied by our staff in airports and looked after on board by our in-flight crew. At the final destination, our airport staff will ask the person meeting your child for proof of identification in the form of a photo ID. It is imperative that the UM service be requested at the time of your reservation so we can get all the information we need and make the necessary arrangements. The UM service cannot be arranged on the day of departure at the airport.

Do you offer special fares in case of a death or imminent death in the family?

Just the facts:
Our Bereavement Fares page offers all the information you'll need. You can also contact Air Canada Reservations for more details.

Beyond the facts:
In order that we may offer bereavement fares with the confidence of knowing they are being used by the people for whom they are intended, you will be asked to submit appropriate documentation. While we apologize for this extra step, it is necessary to maintain the integrity of this important programme.

About my trip

What travel documents do I need before I travel?
Just the facts:
  • Our Travel Documents page provides important information on passports and other documents needed when travelling for landed immigrants, permanent residents and passengers travelling with children.
  • To find out about additional entry requirements for your trip, contact the local consulate or embassy of the country you plan on visiting.
  • For more information, visit the Transport Canada or Passenger Protect websites.

Beyond the facts:
Don't wait until the last minute to check your travel documents. Do this well in advance of your travel dates in case some of the documentation requires preparation and lead time.

One key thing to remember is that your name on your travel documents must perfectly match your name on your ticket. (That's a legal requirement, not an airline rule.) Out of concern for security and because of heavy government fines, we will refuse boarding to passengers who are deemed to have improper documentation.

What is 'code sharing' and how does it affect me?

Just the facts:
Code sharing refers to a practice through which a flight operated by one airline is jointly marketed as a flight by one or more other airlines. Through our codeshare partnerships, we place our designator code (AC) on flights operated by our codeshare partners, which allows us to provide you with worldwide services through an extensive network of convenient flight connections.

Your Air Canada itinerary receipt or your travel agent will tell you if any portion of your trip is on a non-Air Canada airline.

Behind the facts:
Airlines (including Air Canada) codeshare because it's a way to share resources and offer more frequent service. The effect of code sharing on our customers is minimal because we only codeshare with high-quality airline partners. However, we do believe it's important for customers to know which airline they will actually be travelling on, and that's why we will tell you at the time of ticket purchase if any part of your trip is actually on another airline.

Learn more about codesharing and what it means to you, the customer.

What is the difference between a direct flight and a connecting flight?

In the aviation industry, a direct flight is defined as any flight between two places that carries a single flight number, but which may include one or more stops where customers do not have to change planes.

Customers travelling on connecting flights are required to change from one plane or airline to another at an intermediate point, called the connecting point, en route to their destination.

Can I choose my seat and how do I know where it is?

Just the facts:
Yes, you can choose your seat before you travel. Just make sure to purchase a fare that includes complimentary advance seat selection or, if you're buying our lowest price Tango fare in North America, you can purchase Advance Seat Selection as an add-on.

The best and simplest way to choose your seat is through aircanada.com. You'll need to enter your booking reference number. Once you've done that and retrieved your booking, click on "Select Seat" and follow the steps to the seat map. Choose the seat you want.

You've changed your mind? Just repeat the steps and choose another seat. If you are booking through an Air Canada reservations agent or travel agent, you can also take advantage of advance seat selection and specify the kind of seat you want (i.e. window or aisle). If you do not choose advance seat selection, then you can select the best seat available by checking 24 hours in advance on aircanada.com or at check-in time at the airport.

Learn more about online advance seat selection.

Beyond the facts:
Remember that complimentary seat selection comes included with Business Class, Latitude and Flex fares. If you purchase a Tango fare, you can add advance seat selection for a nominal fee during the customization portion of booking your fare at aircanada.com.

Are check-in times really important?

Yes, they are critical to the on-time departure and, more importantly, the on-time arrival of your flight.

Web check-in is simply the best way to check in for your flight! You can check in from your computer, as early as 24 hours before your flight, and print your boarding pass.

You can also check in at one of our airport Check-in kiosks up to 12 hours in advance. You can even print your own baggage tags at our kiosks in Edmonton, Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto Pearson, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Paris-Charles de Gaulle and London Heathrow. They're easy to use and put you in control.

Learn more about Check-in and boarding times.

Behind the facts:
Customers sometimes question the need to arrive so early for check-in and boarding. The fact is there's a lot that goes into making sure a flight leaves on time. For its part, Air Canada needs to have an aircraft and crew ready to leave at the scheduled departure time. When you respect the check-in times, you're giving us a tremendous advantage in terms of getting every checked bag on the plane and issuing all the boarding passes - without a last minute rush. That's something we really appreciate.

Early check-in also gives you the time you need to pass through the various security screening points en route to your gate. These security processes and procedures are a fact of life in today's airports and they often take time. In the case of flights to the United States, you may also need to go through U.S. immigration and customs formalities prior to boarding.

What can I expect to eat or drink on my flight?

Just the facts:
It depends on where you're going and the length of your flight.

Our Meals and beverages page provides links to menu information for:
  • travel within North America, as well as to and from Sun destinations,
  • international travel
  • special meals

You can also learn more about our policy regarding customers with allergies, as well as our NutriCuisine products.

What happens if my flight is delayed?

Just the facts:
Our prime objective is to let you know as early as possible if there's a schedule change or delay, so please take care to provide us with accurate contact information at time of booking. We can't contact you if we don't have the right telephone or email information.

The best way to stay on top of the latest arrival and departure information for your flight is to sign up to receive an automatic email or SMS text message on your cell phone with one of our Flight Notification services. Real-time flight information is also available on our Flight Status page, or by calling Air Canada's automated flight information system at 1-888-422-7533.

Customers hate to arrive at the airport only to find that their flight has been delayed, and we hate to have to tell them. However, if you've already arrived at the airport, we'll do our best to let you know what's going on at regular intervals and keep you updated about the status of your flight. In the case of last-minute cancellations, we'll help you rebook on the next Air Canada flight with available seats, or cancel the ticket and refund you if you prefer.

Learn more

What happens if there's a long delay – the kind where you're on a plane for hours or wind up sleeping at the airport?

Just the facts:
In the case of delays caused by Air Canada which are expected to last longer than 4 hours, we will offer a voucher for use at an airport restaurant or for our Air Canada Café service. We will also communicate with you at regular intervals to provide an update on the flight status with the latest, most accurate information available. In the case of an unplanned overnight stay caused by Air Canada, we will provide out-of-town customers with meal vouchers, transportation to and from the airport as well as hotel accommodations (subject to availability).

Behind the facts:
Without a doubt, long delays are one of the worst airline experiences, and we do everything we can to avoid them. Nevertheless, they do happen.

We can't control the weather, power outages, acts of God, riots, traffic congestion, airport construction or security-related situations. In these cases, we won't provide compensation, but we will do our best to get you on your way as quickly as possible.

But when it's our fault, we'll take full responsibility for the situation. If the delay continues for a matter of hours, we will do our best to see that you get something to eat and drink. We will look after out-of-town customers who are trapped at the airport overnight and find them hotel accommodations (subject to availability).

Learn more

About my bags

What's my baggage allowance?

Just the facts:
Checked baggage allowances are fully outlined on our Checked Baggage page.

Please note that we cannot check your bag for delivery to another airline to carry it to your destination unless you can show a single ticket for travel on both Air Canada and the other airline.

I arrived safely at my destination but my bag didn't. What can I do about it?

Just the facts:
The best course of action is to check with an Air Canada baggage service agent in the arrivals area who will take immediate steps to find your bag and return it to you quickly. You'll be asked to describe your baggage, and to provide detailed contact information. We'll then give you a File Reference Number. (This number is required in all communications regarding your delayed baggage.)

Our Delayed and damaged baggage page provides you with all the information you require.

Behind the facts:
We appreciate the inconvenience a delayed bag can cause, and know that the many reasons for it 'including possibly a late delivery from another airline, your late check-in, or our failure to put it on the right flight' are not as important to you as being reunited with your bag is.

Beyond the facts:
One of the best ways to protect against misplaced bags is to clearly identify your bags by placing an up-to-date identification tag on the outside as well as on the inside of all baggage. (Many travellers forget to put identification inside their bags.)

What do I do if my bag is lost or damaged?

Just the facts:
The best thing to do is report the loss or damages to an Air Canada baggage service agent within 24 hours for domestic travel and 7 days for international travel. Our Delayed and damaged baggage page provides links to all the information you require.

Behind the facts:
You should know that there are existing regulations and legislation which govern airline liability on domestic and international flights. The Warsaw Convention, for example, is an international convention which regulates liability for international carriage of persons, luggage or goods performed by aircraft.

Like most international airlines, Air Canada settles claims for lost or damaged baggage in accordance with these regulations. The Warsaw/Montreal Convention's international rules for liability are listed in the 'Insurance and Baggage Liability Limitations' section of the delayed baggage and damaged baggage pages.

Beyond the facts:
You may want to consider purchasing additional liability insurance if the standard liability limits don't meet your needs. Air Canada has negotiated preferential rates with RBC Insurance.

The following items should not be included in checked baggage: passport or other travel documents, medication, money, jewellery, cameras and electronic devices, business documents, samples, valuables, fragile and perishable items. It makes good sense to store these items in your carry-on baggage for your own protection and convenience, and also because all these items are excluded from Air Canada's liability.

What items are not allowed on board?
Our Restricted and prohibited items, carry-on and checked baggage pages provide essential information. We also encourage you to visit the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) website.

About Air Canada

Does Air Canada overbook its flights?

Just the facts:
Yes, we do.

Behind the facts:
Airline customers place a high value on refundable tickets (in case they can't make their flight, don't show up or decide to change travel plans). In these cases, overbooking is a means (certainly not perfect but, on the whole, pretty viable) which allows us to offer refundable tickets without losing a lot of money.

In the rare circumstances (and it is rare) where customers can't get on a flight due to overbooking, we offer compensation (in the form of a travel voucher or cash) and we make alternate arrangements to get you to your destination as quickly as possible.

I know that my air travel has an impact on the environment. What can I - and Air Canada - do about it?

In collaboration with Zerofootprint, a not-for-profit organization that operates carbon offset programs, Air Canada has launched the Carbon Offsets Program, which allows you to reduce the environmental footprint of your travel. By calculating the impact of your journey, you can mitigate its effects with a small, voluntary additional payment to support environmental projects that reduce greenhouse gases. When you or your travel agents book your travel through aircanada.com, you have an option to purchase a carbon offset for your trip.

For its part, Air Canada is working on a number of fronts to be a better environmental citizen. We have adopted more fuel-efficient procedures for take-offs and landings, reduced engine usage on the ground during taxiing and ground delays, cut fuel consumption in the air with more efficient aircraft and flight plans, expanded our on-board recycling program and employed hybrid technology for airport vehicles. Learn more about what we're doing.

I've got something to say to Air Canada, who do I write to?

Just the facts:
Our Customer Relations page has all the information you require.

Behind the facts:
Start with our Customer Relations department. Some people want to send their letter right to the President, however, our Customer Relations employees are the experts at ensuring that your comments get to the right people at the airline, and are shared with the appropriate department or group. If you have specific comments or complaints, give us as much information as possible, including any documentation you have, so we can follow up. You can expect to hear back from us within 30 days.