Plane landing at Montreal-Trudeau International Airport at dusk.

Plane landing at Montreal-Trudeau International Airport at dusk.

Rules coming into effect in September mean that, in certain circumstances, airlines will have to make refunds available to would-be passengers for delayed or cancelled flights in Canada.

The rule change covers flight delays of at least three hours and cancellations that are outside of airlines' control. In such situations, airlines are already required to rebook passengers on the next available flight to their destination, even if it's by a competing carrier.

As of September 8, 2022, an airline will also have to offer a refund if it cannot rebook a passenger on a flight with a scheduled departure time that's "within 48 hours of the departure time on the passenger's original ticket," according to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).

It will be up to the passenger to either go for the refund or accept "alternate travel arrangements," which the airline would have to book for free. The passenger will be able to opt for the refund "at any time before being provided a confirmed reservation on an alternate flight."

The CTA says refunds will have to cover the "unused portion" of a passenger's ticket, "including any unused add-on services." In addition to the reimbursement, airlines will have to book passengers on flights back to their point of origin if they've flown away and "their travel no longer serves a purpose."

The scope of the new refund rule is wide. The CTA says all flights "to, from and within Canada" will be subject to it — including, the agency assures, connecting flights.

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