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Flight delays, cancellations, and schedule changes

We know that any type of interruption to your schedule can be challenging and inconvenient. To minimize any inconvenience, we will do our best to keep you informed, and get you on your way as quickly and safely as possible.

WestJet and WestJet Encore by policy do not overbook flights, a common practice in the airline industry. However, there may be times where substitutions of aircraft or seat configuration changes within an aircraft occur because of operational issues. As a result, a larger or smaller aircraft may be used for your flight. Either way, we will ensure that the impact on your travel is minimized.

If you are denied boarding, your flight is delayed or cancelled for at least two hours, or your baggage is lost or damaged, you may be entitled to certain standards of treatment and compensation under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations. For more information about your passenger rights please contact WestJet or visit the Canadian Transportation Agency’s website.

Learn more about flight interruptions to flights departing, arriving or diverted through the United States.

Though we always strive to be the most on time airline in Canada, delays and cancellations happen for reasons:

  1. Outside WestJet’s control
  2. Within WesJet’s control, but required for safety
  3. Within WestJet’s control

What happens when your flight is delayed or cancelled depends on the circumstances of your flight interruption. Find what you can expect for all situations below.

See the reasons why flights may be delayed or cancelled

Your WestJet flight may be delayed or cancelled due to reasons outside our control. For example, a bird strike may have occured, a guest may have a medical issue or weather events like snow storms or hurricanes may interfere with the safe operation of your flight.

If your WestJet flight is delayed for 3 hours or more, or cancelled due to reasons outside of our control, we will:

  1. Provide a confirmed reservation for no additional charge:
    • on the next available WestJet or WestJet Encore flight or on a flight operated by a non-WestJet airline, if the next available flight is travelling on a reasonable air route from the airport at which you are located to your original destination and departs within 48 hours of the event that caused the delay
    • OR
    • if a reservation cannot be confirmed as in the point above, we will provide a confirmed reservation for a flight operated by another airline travelling on any reasonable air route from the airport at which you are located, or another airport that is within a reasonable distance of that airport, to your original destination (transportation will be provided from the airport where you are located to the new departure airport, if applicable)
      • e.g., neighbouring city to Hamilton is Toronto

 

A delay or cancellation that directly results from an earlier uncontrollable delay or cancellation is also considered to be an uncontrollable delay or cancellation when WestJet has taken all reasonable measures to lessen the impact of the earlier delay or cancellation.

Third party bookings or airline partner flights

If you’re travelling on a flight operated by one of our partner airlines, or you booked your trip through a third-party such as a travel agent, airline partner, travel site or AIR MILES®, we recommend that you contact them directly as they are in a better position to make the appropriate arrangement for re-accommodation or travel options. If your flight departs within 24 hours you can contact your third party agent or contact WestJet directly.

Your WestJet flight may be delayed or cancelled due to reasons within our control, but required for the safety of our guests and crew. For example, we will delay or cancel your flight if we find an unexpected mechanical issue with your aircraft.

If your WestJet flight is delayed for 3 hours or more, or cancelled due to reasons within our control but required for safety, we will:

  1. Provide a confirmed reservation for no additional charge:
    • on the next available WestJet or WestJet Encore flight or on a flight operated by a non-WestJet airline, if the next available flight is travelling on a reasonable air route from the airport at which you are located to your original destination and departs within 9 hours of the originally scheduled departure time
    • OR
    • if a reservation cannot be confirmed as in the point above, we will provide a confirmed reservation for a flight operated by another airline travelling on any reasonable air route from the airport at which you are located to your original destination that departs within 48 hours of the originally scheduled departure time
    • OR
    • if a reservation cannot be confirmed as in the point above, we will provide transportation to another airport that is within a reasonable distance from the airport at which you are located and a confirmed reservation for a flight that is operated by another airline on any reasonable air route from that other airport to your original destination
  2. To the extent possible, provide comparable travel arrangements to the original ticket and will not ask you to pay additional fees if the alternative travel arrangements are in a higher class of service. If the class of service is lower than was to be provided on your original flight, WestJet will refund the difference in the cost of the applicable portion of the ticket
  3. If you purchased any additional services in connection with your original flight and you did not receive those services on the alternate flight or you have paid for those services a second time, WestJet will provide you with a refund paid by the method used for the original payment and to the person who purchased the ticket or additional service
  4. If the alternative travel arrangements do not meet your needs, WestJet will refund the unused portion of the ticket

Standards of treatment

For flights departing on or after December 15, 2019:

If you are informed of a delay less than 12 hours before the departure time indicated on your original ticket and you have waited 2 hours after the departure time that is indicated on your original ticket, WestJet will provide you with food and drink in reasonable quantities and access to a means of communication, when feasible.

WestJet will also provide you with hotel or other comparable accommodation, as well as transportation to and from the accommodation, taking into consideration your location, if it appears that you will be required to wait overnight for your original flight or a reserved flight as part of alternative travel arrangements. Some or all of these benefits may not be provided if providing them would further delay your travel.

A delay or cancellation that directly results from a controllable delay or cancellation but required for safety purposes is also considered to be a controllable delay or cancellation but required for safety purposes when WestJet has taken all reasonable measures to lessen the impact of the earlier delay or cancellation.

Third party bookings or airline partner flights

If you’re travelling on a flight operated by one of our partner airlines, or you booked your trip through a third-party such as a travel agent, airline partner, travel site or AIR MILES®, we recommend that you contact them directly as they are in a better position to make the appropriate arrangement for re-accommodation or travel options. If your flight departs within 24 hours you can contact your third party agent or contact WestJet directly.

Your WestJet flight can be delayed or cancelled for reasons within our control. For example, we may decide to delay or cancel a flight due to flight crew availability.

If your WestJet flight is delayed for 3 hours or more, or cancelled due to reasons within our control, we will:

  1. Provide a confirmed reservation for no additional charge:
    • on the next available WestJet or WestJet Encore flight or on a flight operated by a non-WestJet airline, if the next available flight is travelling on a reasonable air route from the airport at which you are located to your original destination and departs within 9 hours of the originally scheduled departure time
    • OR
    • if a reservation cannot be confirmed as in the point above, we will provide a confirmed reservation for a flight operated by another airline travelling on any reasonable air route from the airport at which you are located to your original destination that departs within 48 hours of the originally scheduled departure time
    • OR
    • if a reservation cannot be confirmed as in the point above, we will provide transportation to another airport that is within a reasonable distance from the airport at which you are located and a confirmed reservation for a flight that is operated by another airline on any reasonable air route from that other airport to your original destination
  2. To the extent possible, provide comparable travel arrangements to the original ticket and will not ask you to pay additional fees if the alternative travel arrangements are in a higher class of service. If the class of service is lower than was to be provided on your original flight, WestJet will refund the difference in the cost of the applicable portion of the ticket
  3. If you purchased any additional services in connection with your original flight and you did not receive those services on the alternate flight or you have paid for those services a second time, WestJet will provide you with a refund paid by the method used for the original payment and to the person who purchased the ticket or additional service
  4. If the alternative travel arrangements do not meet your needs, WestJet will refund the unused portion of the ticket
  5. If you are no longer at your original airport of departure and your travel no longer serves a purpose because of the delay, WestJet will refund the ticket and provide a confirmed reservation for a flight that is to your original departure airport and accommodates your travel needs. Refunds will be paid by the method used for the original payment and to the person who purchased the ticket or additional service.

Standards of treatment

For flights departing on or after December 15, 2019:

If you are informed of a delay less than 12 hours before the departure time indicated on your original ticket and you have waited 2 hours after the departure time that is indicated on your original ticket, WestJet will provide you with food and drink in reasonable quantities and access to a means of communication, when feasible.

WestJet will also provide you with hotel or other comparable accommodation, as well as transportation to and from the accommodation, taking into consideration your location, if it appears that you will be required to wait overnight for your original flight or a reserved flight as part of alternative travel arrangements. Some or all of these benefits may not be provided if providing them would further delay your travel.

Compensation

For flights departing on or after December 15, 2019:

If you are informed 14 days or less before the departure time shown on your original ticket that the arrival of your flight at the destination indicated on your ticket will be delayed, compensation will be provided as follows, if you file a request for compensation within 1 year from the day on which the flight delay occurred:

3 to 6 hours $400.00
6 to 9 hours $700.00
9 hours or more $1,000.00

 

For flights departing on or after December 15, 2019:

If you are informed 14 days or less before the departure time shown on your original ticket that the arrival of your flight at the destination indicated on your ticket will be delayed and your ticket is refunded, we will compensate you in the amount of $400.00, if compensation is requested by you.

Third party bookings or airline partner flights

If you’re travelling on a flight operated by one of our partner airlines, or you booked your trip through a third-party such as a travel agent, airline partner, travel site or AIR MILES®, we recommend that you contact them directly as they are in a better position to make the appropriate arrangement for re-accommodation or travel options. If your flight departs within 24 hours you can contact your third party agent or contact WestJet directly.

A Tarmac Delay is when your flight is ready to take off (and the doors of the aircraft are closed) or your flight has just landed (and the doors of the aircraft are closed), but you are kept waiting in the plane. We will do what we can to make you comfortable during a Tarmac Delay, including the following:

      1. WestJet will provide you with 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, when feasible (“Tarmac Delay Services”). If you require urgent medical assistance during a tarmac delay, we will take all reasonable steps to facilitate access to medical assistance.

        After a 3 hour tarmac delay at an airport in Canada, the plane will return to the gate so you can disembark if safe to do so. A plane can stay on the tarmac for up to 45 additional minutes, if it is likely that it will take off within that period and we are able to continue providing the same Tarmac Delay Services, when feasible.
      2. This short extension is to ensure that the plane can take off if there is a reasonable prospect of this occurring – so that you can reach your final destination without the inconvenience of further delay or a flight cancellation.

        If it is not likely that the plane can take off within the additional 45 minute window, the plane will return to the gate, unless it is prevented for reasons related to safety, security, customs control or air traffic control.

Depending on the circumstances, it may not be possible for WestJet to allow you to disembark from the aircraft during a Tarmac Delay, for various reasons, including but not limited to concerns related to safety, security, or due to directions by Air Traffic Control or Customs Control.

If the plane returns to the gate for disembarking because of a tarmac delay, disembarking priority will be available to passengers with disabilities and their support person, service animal or emotional support animal, if any, upon request and when feasible.

Changes to your flight schedule

Schedule changes are adjustments to flight times and destinations. Unfortunately, even though we prefer not to make schedule changes, they do happen. Generally, schedule changes are made because of adjustments to air traffic routes, airport requests, construction at airport facilities, security constraints, market forces, partner airline schedules and so on.

Should you experience a schedule change, WestJet will make every effort to contact you in a timely manner (via email) to advise you of a change. The email will contain information about your old flight itinerary and your new flight itinerary. Depending on the magnitude of the schedule change, the email may also include the option to accept the change, decline the change (and request a refund), or instructions on how to make a change to your new flight itinerary.

For flights booked directly with WestJet (westjet.com, contact centre, etc.), Please refer to the chart below, which displays how WestJet contacts guests in most schedule change situations.

  • One (1) schedule change email will be sent 90 days prior to departure
  • Flight is departing no more than one hour later than the original flight.
  • Flight is departing no more than 15 minutes earlier than the original flight.
  • Departure time remains the same but connection times are different (up to three hours).
  • Flight time remains the same but flight number has changed.
  • Up to four (4) schedule change emails will be sent starting 90 days prior to departure
  • Phone call if there is no guest action resulting from emails, or if the schedule change requires alternate planning directly with the guest (including WestJet Vacations or Group Bookings)
  • Flight is departing 16 to 30 minutes prior than the original flight.
  • Flight is departing 1 to 3 hours later on the same day.
  • Direct or non-stop flight was changed to a connecting flight.
  • Up to four (4) schedule change emails will be sent within 72 hours of when the change has been made
  • Phone call if there is no guest action resulting from emails, or if the schedule change requires alternate planning directly with the guest (including WestJet Vacations or Group Bookings)
  • Flight is departing more than 3 hours later on the same day.
  • Flight is not departing on the same day.
  • Flight now has an overnight connection.
  • Flight is departing more than 30 minutes prior to original departure.

You can also review our domestic tariff, specifically rule 90: Schedule Irregularities for more information.

If you booked your trip through a third-party such as a travel agent, airline partner, travel site or AIR MILES®, WestJet will notify them directly of all changes and they will be responsible for providing you updates.

We will attempt to notify you as soon as possible of flight delays and cancellations. When we communicate any delay or cancellation, we will inform you of:

  • the reason for the delay or cancellation
  • compensation our guests may be entitled to
  • standards of treatment
  • recourse available against WestJet, when applicable

If we receive new information regarding a flight delay or cancellation, we will communicate it to you as soon as possible. We will provide updates every 30 minutes using the methods below until a new departure time is set or alternative travel arrangements have been made.

Please note, if you booked your trip through a third-party such as a travel agent, airline partner, travel site or AIR MILES®, we recommend that you contact them.

There are many ways that we communicate with you so you can stay informed of changes to your trip:

Before you arrive at the airport

  • Via email, as long as you have provided WestJet with your WestJet Rewards ID or email address. Otherwise, we will not be able to send you email notifications about your flight status or itinerary, or messages may be sent to your travel arranger instead.
  • If you booked your trip through a third-party such as a travel agent, airline partner, travel site or AIR MILES®, we recommend that you contact them, as you may not receive direct communications from WestJet, or you may receive modified version of these communications.
  • On our website through flight status or travel advisories. To receive an up-to-date email confirmation, please retrieve your itinerary.

Download the WestJet app and enable your app notifications to stay informed on-the-go.

At the airport

  • during check-in
  • by the departure and arrival screens located throughout airport terminals, where feasible
  • announcements at the airport
  • updates provided every 30 minutes until a new departure time is set or whenever new information is available

On the aircraft

  • announcements every 30 minutes (when safe for our pilots to do so)

We strongly recommend that you ensure you, or your travel arranger, has provided us with your WestJet Rewards ID, an email address, or current phone number.

You can also review our domestic tariff, specifically rule 90: Schedule Irregularities. Delays, cancellations and compensation.

Flying with a non-WestJet operated airline?

Policies for communicating flight delays and cancellations can be different between airlines. If you’re travelling on a flight operated by a carrier other than WestJet, we recommend that you visit the airline’s website to learn about their policies, fees and terms and conditions of carriage.

If you have concerns about how the delay or cancellation of your flight was communicated, the airline that operated the affected flight will be best equipped to deal with your concerns.

Contact us about concern regarding a WestJet flight

You can view which airline is operating your flight when you book online, on your itinerary receipt or on your boarding pass/ticket.

When flying with an operating carrier other than WestJet, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the fees and policies of the airline that is operating your flight, as each airline has its own terms and conditions of carriage.

If issues occur on a non-WestJet operated flight, for example, relating to denied boarding, flight delays or cancellations, lost or damaged baggage, the airline that operated the affected flight will be best equipped to deal with your concerns. This does not limit your ability to make a claim with another carrier pursuant to the APPR.

Should you incur out-of-pocket expenses for a controllable flight delay or cancellation, you may submit a request to WestJet for reimbursement. WestJet will review requests for reasonable expenses that meet certain criteria and supporting, itemized receipts will be required. If approved, you will be reimbursed with cash by electronic payment or with WestJet dollars deposited into your WestJet Rewards account. It’s your choice.

Our general guidelines are:

  • Hotel costs: in situations where WestJet was unable to secure a hotel room, or you did not accept the hotel re-accommodation option WestJet has offered (and you book your own hotel), WestJet will reimburse you up to $150.00 CAD ($200.00 CAD for non-Canadian destinations) per night/per reservation. In-room movie costs, tips/gratuities and long distance telephone charges will be excluded.
  • Meals: in the unlikely event meal vouchers mentioned above are not available during your controllable delay, we will reimburse you to a maximum of $45 CAD per day/per guest. Alcoholic beverages and tips/gratuities will be excluded.
  • Transportation: if transportation was not available by WestJet, we will reimburse the cost incurred for transportation between the airport and the hotel.

Please note, WestJet does not reimburse expenses for cellular roaming charges, missed entertainment/sporting/excursion events, lost wages or missed connections to non-partner airlines or cruises.

These guidelines do not limit or reduce your right to claim damages, if any, under the applicable convention or under the law.

Third party bookings or airline partner flights

If you’re travelling on a flight operated by one of our partner airlines, or you booked your trip through a third-party such as a travel agent, airline partner, travel site or AIR MILES®, we recommend that you contact them directly as they are in a better position to make the appropriate arrangement for re-accommodation or travel options.  If your flight departs within 24 hours you can contact your third party agent or contact WestJet directly.

For further detailed information please see rule 90: Schedule Irregularities of our domestic tariff.

To submit a request, please fill out and submit the online reimbursement request form in full. One of our Guest Support specialists will review the request and process it, if approved. Submit expenses from a disrupted flight

From unexpected maintenance to winter storms, flights are delayed or cancelled for many reasons.

Reasons for flight delays or cancellations:

** reasons provided on your day of travel are based on information available at the time of disclosure and are subject to change.

When Air Traffic Control determines that they cannot safely manage the volume of flights arriving into that airport and requested flights be delayed and/or cancelled.

When the airport experiences an issue that either limits operations or makes it unsafe to operate (e.g. power outage). 

When a bird collides with the aircraft and an inspection is required to ensure the aircraft is not damaged.

 

When unexpected maintenance interrupts operations, for example:

  • The operating crew is delayed arriving on another aircraft into the departure airport.
  • The flight is cancelled as the delays resulted in the crew exceeding their Transport Canada-mandated duty day.

 

When weather interrupts operations, for example:

  • The operating crew is delayed arriving on another aircraft into the departure airport.
  • The flight is cancelled as the delays resulted in the crew exceeding their Transport Canada-mandated duty day.

 

When weather interrupts operations, for example:

  • The operating crew is delayed arriving on another aircraft into the departure airport.
  • The flight is cancelled as the delays resulted in the crew exceeding their Transport Canada-mandated duty day.

 

When the flight is short a crew member and is delayed and/or cancelled until a replacement crew member can arrive to ensure the flight operates safely.

An issue with crew amenities (hotel or transport) provided by an external vendor that causes a delay.

When staffing issues, new government policies, or additional screening requirements delay the processing of guests.

When the aircraft requires de-icing prior to operating the flight.

When the ground crew experiences an issue that limits their ability to operate (e.g. baggage loading, catering, etc.)

When a guest's actions interrupts flight operations (e.g. no-show guest at the gate). 

When a guest experiences a medical incident.

When a hurricane or tropical storm impacts the ability to operate flights. 

When lightning strikes the aircraft and an inspection is required to ensure the aircraft is not damaged.

When WestJet decides to delay and/or cancel the flight to assist other guests impacted by other flight disruptions (e.g. holding for connecting guests).

When scheduled maintenance on the aircraft requires additional time to complete which causes the flight to be delayed and/or cancelled.

When a security breach or a threat is made against WestJet or the airport, e.g. a restricted item made it past the security checkpoint.

When an aircraft encounters an issue that results in unplanned maintenance.

When a weather issue causes the flight to be delayed and/or cancelled.

When an issue with WestJet software (not related to the aircraft) results in the flight being delayed and/or cancelled.