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Air Transat flight attendants’ strike: your rights, compensation and travel insurance

To the point Know your rights in the event of a flight attendant strike. Learn more about travel insurance and regulations for flights within Canada and international departures.

While strikes are (rather) common in Europe, an Air Transat flight attendants strike, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), is threatening Canadian passengers, and we may not be fully aware of our rights in the event of a strike. Indeed, a strike mandate has just been adopted by 99.8%, with a strike set to begin on January 3, 2024. A strike by Air Canada pilots could also occur in winter 2024. Your winter travel could therefore be impacted, as we saw with WestJet in the spring of 2023 during the pilots’ strike.

First of all, while a flight attendant strike is considered beyond an airline’s control, customers should not have to pay for a dispute between the airline and its employees’ unions. Therefore, you are entitled to a refund if your flight is cancelled, or to have your itinerary completed, but your rights and compensation vary according to your itinerary.

While we’re hearing about a possible Air Transat flight attendants strike, the following also applies to other carriers across the country.

Please note: this article does not constitute legal advice. For more information, we invite you to consult the APPR regulation, the Montreal Convention and law EU261/2004 depending on your situation and to check your rights.


Flight attendants' strike - When traveling within Canada

Flight attendant strikes are considered by the Canadian Transportation Agency to be “outside carrier’s control” for flights departing from and arriving in Canada. Therefore, under APPR regulations, in the event of a flight attendants’ strike, you would be entitled to :

  • A new reservation free of charge on another flight, even if it’s a competitor.
  • A full refund of any unused portion of the flight, in the original form of payment, if you decide not to travel anymore.

Flight attendants' strike - When traveling internationally from Canada

If a flight attendants’ strike affects you, according to the Canadian Transportation Agency, you can expect the airline to ensure:

  • You can complete your itinerary
  • Or provide you with a refund

Flight attendants' strike - When departing from the European Union

If you have booked a flight from an airport in the European Union to Canada and the airline cancels it due to a flight attendants’ strike, the airline should comply with all of the following, in accordance with the EU261/2004 law, since it would be considered to be under the airline’s control:

  • Offer a new flight to your destination or a return to your point of origin.
  • Offer cash compensation of 400 euros if the disruption has delayed you by less than 4 hours, and 600 euros if it has delayed you by more.
  • Offer a full refund if you decide to return to your point of origin.
  • Offer meals, lodging, ground transportation, etc.

If the strike is not due to the pay and working conditions of the airline’s employees, but to third-party contractors, it is considered to be beyond the airline’s control, since it affects workers who are not officially part of its workforce.

Flight attendants' strike - Travel insurance and coverage

Although the Montreal Convention and EU 261 laws cover basic expenses such as meals and accommodation for itineraries within Canada, you may be out of luck as a flight attendants’ strike is not under the airline’s control with the CTA. You’ll need to turn to your travel insurance; read your certificate carefully and you may find passages like this one from the TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card:

Delay due to an unforeseen strike or other job action by employees of a Common Carrier, which means any labour disagreement that delays the scheduled arrival or departure of a Common Carrier.

Even if the law protects your flights, it’s a good idea to have extra insurance, just in case, especially since great ones are offered to some credit card holders. It’s important to remember that airline compensation is not the same as insurance.

It’s your responsibility to check your own insurance coverage, as policies vary with different insurers. To make sure you have the right cover for your trip, get the information directly from the insurer and, ideally, in writing, in case you need to make a claim.

While a flight attendants’ strike can affect your trip, many other things can happen too, and regulations don’t always cover said things. For example, you could break a leg a week before your long-awaited trip to Patagonia, or your son’s appendicitis could burst the day before you leave on your all-inclusive vacation.

Since it’s safe to assume that most people book their trips with a credit card these days, you need to make sure you’re using the right card. We often receive questions about which card will offer the best return for travel purchases in our community, but insurance is not to be overlooked.

If you want to make the most of it, you can apply for a new credit card with excellent insurance and unlock a fantastic bonus with your travel expenses! The following cards offer generous rewards and excellent travel insurance:

Bottom Line

Employees in all sectors have the right to demand pay rises and better working conditions, so a flight attendants’ strike comes as no surprise. As we’ve seen over the last few months, the tourism industry has changed: there’s a shortage of staff everywhere, and demand is rising all the time, which means more work and more stress for those who still stand. Ground workers could also go on strike, who knows?

Thanks to legislation and the right travel insurance, you could at least be compensated if you face a flight attendants’ strike in the coming months.

Finally, if you wish to benefit from your credit card insurance, make sure it remains open and active during your trip and throughout the duration of your claims procedure!

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I'm Aline, an experienced traveller, a foodie at heart, an Avgeek, a photography enthusiast and an expert on credit card programs. I use Reward Points to travel on a budget and to save money on everyday life; writing about these topics allows me to share my passion and help you. ~ 7 continents and 75 countries ~

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