The holiday season hasn’t officially started yet, but it’s already chaos at many airports around the world. In the face of delays at security checkpoints, flight delays or cancellations and lost baggage, an informed traveler deserves two. Here is a brief guide to getting to your destination despite the turmoil (and avoiding the worst should the unexpected happen).
Get ready before you leave
Choose trips wisely
For travelers considering buying plane tickets soon, layovers should be avoided as much as possible, according to Jacob Charbonneau, co-founder of Flight Delayed Compensation Service. And if it is necessary, it is better to plan a much longer time between trips than at regular times. “It’s a mess in Montreal at the moment, but also at many international airports. It’s better to wait eight hours there than to miss your call.”
Airports are also less crowded during the week and at night.
For its part, the Office of Consumer Protection (OPC) strongly recommends purchasing travel insurance that covers the costs of cancellation or delay.
The regional organization also suggests doing business exclusively with travel agencies in Quebec: this option gives consumers access to the services of the Compensation Fund for Travel Agents Clients (FICAV). If you miss a cruise ship due to a flight delay, for example, this fund will compensate you. Foreign sites offering discounted rooms and flights do not offer such protection. Generally, purchases made on these platforms are non-refundable, and treatments are virtually non-existent.
Also, to avoid paying twice for the same service, it’s a good idea to check if your credit cards or group insurance offer you this protection.
Know the contents of your bag
The ideal is to travel without checked baggage when possible. And since the rules for weight and dimensions vary from carrier to carrier, check in advance that your rules are compatible.
If your baggage arrives late at its destination, compensation can be up to $2,400, an amount dependent on unexpected purchases you had to make in the absence of personal belongings. So you should keep your receipts carefully. “On the other hand, we have 21 days to apply, so if we go on vacation for two or three weeks and it happens at the beginning, it is important to apply very quickly,” Jacob Charbonneau advises.
And if your bags are misplaced, you need to know the contents to make a claim. So travelers who need to check their baggage on their next flight should take photos inside their bags to simplify the procedures. Furthermore, if you have taken out insurance, it is advisable to make an inventory of the valuables that were in your baggage prior to your departure.
Be prepared for the worst
Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) recommends arriving three hours in advance, for both domestic and international flights.
For travelers planning to go to the airport by car, ADM states that it is best to reserve a parking space. And if someone drops you away, it’s wise to reduce the time you spend on the landing phase: Security guards patrolling the area often have a short fuse given the current conditions.
For its part, bus line 747 departs from the Montreal Bus Station, on Bree Street, and makes twelve stops downtown until Lionel Groulx, after which it heads to the airport. A large part of the journey takes place in reserved lanes. The ticket costs $10 and the STM says it must be purchased before boarding the bus, otherwise the driver will ask for the exact change.
Plan for delays
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) oversees customs operations. And remember to indicate her health on the ArriveCAN request when she arrives; It can also be done within the past 72 hours. In Toronto or Vancouver Airport, the app also allows you to pre-fill a Customs and Immigration clearance before landing. This is the fastest way to enter Canada, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.
The federal agency also publishes in real time on its website an estimate of waiting times at security and customs at airports across the country. Most important is the waiting time in security before departure.
Sometimes planes take off even though the people who should be on board are stuck in safety.
If a passenger misses their flight due to such delays, they are not entitled to compensation, as they are considered responsible for anticipating delays, notes Jacob Charbonneau. So the Delayed Service co-founder suggests checking in online in advance — and doing the same for your luggage — to reduce waits once you get there.
Acting in the event of unexpected events
Know your rights
If your flight is canceled or delayed by more than three hours due to the carrier’s fault, it is their duty to bring us to our destination, Jacob Charbonneau recalls.
It can do this on its own wings or with the help of a partner company (another member of the Star Alliance network, for example, in the case of Air Canada). “On the other hand, if we don’t ask for it, even though companies are required to, they won’t serve on a silver platter to browse,” he identifies. Therefore the customer should contact his travel agency or air carrier to negotiate an alternative solution as soon as possible.
Moreover, there are minimum standards that must be met, even when the delays are not attributable to carriers. You get access to a hotel room, transportation to get there, meals, free telecommunications, etc. So it is very useful to know our rights before any problems arise.
The law has not yet required Canadian airlines to compensate their customers in the event of cancellation. This situation will soon become a thing of the past, but only from September 8, under an update to the regulations on the protection of air passengers.
Compensation for a canceled flight and parts of a flight missed due to these problems can still be claimed, the OPC notes. But this process can be long and tedious, because the rules governing the aviation sector are complex.
The nationality of the companies you deal with varies with the possible treatments and protections you are entitled to. For flights to Europe, for example, it may be best to confirm European regulations, which are generally stricter for carriers than Canadian regulations.
Avoid the plane?
Travelers who like to see the country may want to travel by bus this summer. For medium or short distance trips, it is more comfortable and fast. Unfortunately, the pandemic took its toll there, too: About half of the companies that were active in North America in 2019 have since gone out of business.
Notice to vacationers discouraged by the situation: Bicycle tourism is said to be booming these days…
Fewer trips, like many destinations
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