This post is my non-professional interpretation. I do not guarantee or warrant the accuracy of any information provided. If you rely on any information provided, you do so at your own risk, and will hold the author of this website or any of its affiliates harmless.
This is a pretty frequent question – if I travel on one ticket, connecting to a second ticket, will I be protected if the first ticket is delayed? For example, if I fly Air Canada Montreal – Toronto, and then a completely second ticket Toronto – Beijing, and the Montreal – Toronto flight is delayed such that I miss Toronto – Beijing, will I be rebooked? The typical answer is no. You assume all liability if you book two separate tickets, and if you miss your second ticket due to delay, you’re on your own or at the mercy of the airline. However, according to Air Canada’s Irregular Operations Policy (IROP), Air Canada will actually protect you on separate tickets!
If you are flying on an Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge, Air Canada Express, or Tier 3 flight (Central Mountain Air; Air Georgian Ltd; Sky Regional Airlines Inc.; Air Creebec, and; Exploits Valley Air Services), and your flight is cancelled or delayed for two hours or more, that delay or cancellation occurring within 48 hours of the scheduled departure time, Air Canada will rebook the second ticket if the second ticket was scheduled to occur within 4 hours from landing from the first ticket for domestic service, and within 24 hours for international service. This applies without regard to ticket stock, fare type, or booking source.
Per the policy document, it seems this applies to Economy, Premium Economy, and Business Class purchases. There is no reference to First Class, so I would assume that First Class is not protected. Air Canada can rebook the flight within a +/- 7 day window from the original travel date, and within +/- 14 days for “extreme IROP” or during peak travel periods (Feb 12 – Apr 20; July 1 – Sep 7; Dec 12 – Jan 13).
It does not seem that you’re guaranteed to be travelling on the same carrier as the originally booked and missed flight. Per the policy document, handling of rebooking is based on how your ticket was originally issued, if it was issued on Air Canada stock (014), etc. Again, you’re protected without regard to who booked your ticket and on who’s stock it’s on, but the rebooking priority is determined based on that information. However, it’s typically in the following order:
- On Air Canada/Air Canada Express/Rouge flight;
- On issuing carrier
- On Lufthansa/United/Swiss/Austrian/Brussels;
- Other Star Alliance carrier;
- On another carrier that Air Canada has an interline or re-protection agreement with, and;
- On another carrier that Air Canada does not have an agreement with.
As you can see, Air Canada’s rebooking options are significant. Indeed, per the final rebooking order, they can rebook you on any carrier. However, it seems that if there’s an option on Star Alliance, as per the above order, that would take precedence even if it’s a less direct routing than previously booked.
There’s some other interesting tidbits of information in the policy document. If you are booked to travel on a cruise, and your Air Canada flight is delayed/cancelled due to a controllable IROP (ex. mechanical, not including weather, work disputes, air traffic control, security, immigration, or aircraft damage delays), then the delayed passenger is entitled to rebooking to the cruise’s next port of call. It appears that this rebooking is owed regardless as to whether Air Canada flies to the next port of call – apparently, any flight on any carrier can be booked in order to engage this provision.
Here’s a concrete example of this policy in action – say I’m booked as follows:
|Booking #1 made by Air Canada||Montreal – Vancouver|
|Booking #2 made by Expedia on Sichuan Airlines||Vancouver – Chengdu|
Say you have a five hour layover between both bookings in Vancouver. Due to weather, mechanical delay, etc., the Montreal – Vancouver segment is delayed for five hours, hence you miss your connecting Vancouver – Chengdu flight. On most airlines, you would be out of luck and would have to buy a new ticket to Chengdu. However, per the IROP policy document, Air Canada would have to rebook you in the same class of service (they can even rebook you up to a full-fare ticket in that class of service).
If available, Air Canada would probably rebook you on their own planes first, such as going Montreal – Vancouver – Beijing – Chengdu (final segment on Air China). However, if all those options are unavailable, they may then rebook you on a flight the next day from Vancouver to Chengdu on the original carrier, Sichuan Airlines. If that’s not possible, they start looking at LH/UA/LX/OS/SN, and so on and so forth.
In summary, this is a phenomenal policy to know. Few travel insurance policies will cover two separate bookings, and few airlines will do the same. However, Air Canada has an extensive rebooking procedure, which is generous considering Air Canada wasn’t originally paid for the second ticket. I suspect this policy exists due to the Montreal Convention provisions for delay, which would ultimately make the carrier liable. When trying to engage this policy, I suspect that at first you will be met with resistance by Air Canada, as I suspect few employees know about this policy document. If you have problems, show this document to an agent who should then be able to help.
Source: Canadiancow on Flyertalk