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BREXIT: Canadian Air Passenger Rights Up in the Air

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BREXIT: Canadian Air Passenger Rights Up in the Air

Canadians at risk of no longer being protected by EC-261 air passenger protection laws while travelling to the UK


Toronto, ON – November 1,2018 – As Canada is the last global leader without air passenger rights, Canadian travellers have relied on Europe’s EC-261 law for protection and until now, the United Kingdom (UK) has fallen under EU law. The possibility of the UK leaving the EU leaves thousands of Canadian passengers vulnerable and at high financial risk as they prepare for their 2019 travel season to the UK.

Under this EC-261 law, Canadians are entitled to a little over $900.00 CD per person should they face a flight delay, cancellation or denied boarding. AirHelp data reveals that from October 2017 to October 2018 alone there was a little over 8500 flights from Canada to the United Kingdom, with an estimated number of 1.4 million passengers. Of that, approximately 7000 passengers were eligible for a little over $7 million CD in compensation as they were affected by a flight delay of more than 3 hours or cancellation. London’s Heathrow Airport had a major share in this traffic, as there were approximately 6000 flights, with a little over one million passengers, travelling from Canada to Heathrow Airport. Approximately, 7500 passengers faced a major disruption making these passengers eligible for a little over $6 million CD under the protection of EC-261 law.

With so much speculation around the consequences of Brexit – it goes without saying if the UK leaves the EU without establishing a fair air passenger rights framework, Canadians will effectively be left with absolutely zero protection when travelling to and from the UK.

AirHelp passenger rights expert, Paloma Salmeron, comments: “It is almost unimaginable that the UK will be cut off from the EU. It remains unclear if British or Canadian air passengers will continue to have the same rights they currently have under EC-261.

Without a confirmed policy, it’s crucial for Canadians to know their rights and how to travel smart.

How to travel smart

Under current EC-261 law, Canadian passengers may be entitled to financial compensation of up to $900.00 CD per person in circumstances of a delay of more than three hours, a cancelled flight and in instances of denied boarding. The condition for this stipulates the departure airport is within the EU or that the flight lands in the EU, operated by an EU-airline. Therein lies Canadians travel salvation – connecting flights! By choosing a connection through the EU to UK, rather  than flying direct, passengers may be able to maintain their compensation rights against airlines. Things to keep in mind, include:

  • Flying from Canada to the EU: If your CA to EU-flight (before flying over to the UK) was operated by an European carrier, Canadians will be covered
  • Booking both flights under the same booking: If Canadian passengers book both flights under the same booking, Canadians have the chance to have their entire distance taken into consideration when calculating how much compensation is owed to them as distance is the decisive factor in how much passengers are eligible for.
  • Taking the extra precautions: To be extra safe, Canadians should book both flights under the same booking and with an EU-carrier

By doing this, Canadians will be prepared and might be able to continue to be protected under EC-261 law and be entitled to up to $900.00CD per person.

“Our hope is that the UK government adopts a similar provision to the regulation EC 261. Whichever way the law turns, we will continue to work tirelessly to help travelers get the compensation that is rightfully theirs and support them throughout their flight disruptions. Additionally, AirHelp will continue to offer support to the Canadian government in the development of their passenger rights. ” Paloma continues.

Passenger advice

With growing uncertainty for passengers, AirHelp offers its advice for those who plan to travel to the UK on a date that straddles or falls after the Brexit date:

  1. Educate yourself on Brexit
    Canadians need to be fully aware of their options during and post-Brexit, especially in the event of a flight delay, cancellation or denied boarding. Canadians can do this by visiting AirHelp’s Know Your Rights page.
  2. Connecting flights
    Flying direct to the UK from Canada will put Canadians at greater risk if faced with a flight delay, cancellation or denied boarding. However, flying to any EU region first, followed by a connecting flight to the UK, might keep Canadians protected under EC-261 law when they land in the UK.
  3. Check your cancellation and refund policy
    Airlines have began to prepare for the worst-case scenarios by selling tickets with a caveat warning that flights from the UK may not be able to operate in the immediate aftermath of the UK exiting the EU. All airlines will have to refund fares if flights are suspended after Brexit is implemented. Canadians should check their cancellation and refund policies for all flights, including package deals.



*Flight compensation calculated from the last 365-days, October 2017 – October 2018.

About AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed, cancelled or denied boarding. Since launching in 2013, AirHelp has helped more than seven million people process airline compensation claims worth almost 800 million euros in total reimbursement. AirHelp has offices across the world, is available in 30 countries, offers support in 16 languages, and employs more than 550 employees globally.



AirHelp has one of the most reliable and most accurate collection of flight data in the world due to their consumption of so many data sources and their ability to combine multiple sources to make up for coverage holes in some vendors data. Airhelp currently collects data from multiple commercial vendors’ because the sources of these commercial brokers vary, and are not infallible.


For more information please contact:Victoria Mattacchione | [email protected] |416.366.7735 x260