Tarmac Delays

Official Regulation

The regulations ensure that during tarmac delays – whether they occur in Canada or abroad – passengers are properly treated.  Standards of treatment for all tarmac delays include, at minimum, access to working lavatories, proper ventilation and heating or cooling, food and drink, and the ability to communicate with people outside the plane free of charge, if feasible.

As well, after a 3 hour tarmac delay at a Canadian airport, airlines will be required to return to the gate so that passengers can disembark. However, a plane will be permitted to stay on the tarmac for up to 45 additional minutes, if it is likely that it will take off within that period and the airline is able to continue providing the required standards of treatment.

This allowance for a short extension is intended to ensure that the plane can take off if there is a reasonable prospect of this occurring – so that passengers reach their final destination and do not suffer further inconvenience caused by a flight cancellation.

However, if take off is not likely to occur within that 45 minute window, the plane will have to return to the gate. In no circumstances will airlines be permitted to exceed this time, unless they are prevented for reasons related to safety, security, customs or air traffic control.

Our Interpretation

Another set of blah… blah…. blah…. Yes, these rules will help, however, rarely do airlines force customers to stay onboard for more than 3hrs and 45mins without being given the opportunity to disembark.