Contingency Plan for Lengthy Tarmac Delays

The Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge (hereinafter referred to as “Air Canada”) Contingency Plan for Lengthy Tarmac Delays is meant to comply with the regulations published by the U.S. Department of Transportation addressing airline services during conditions that result with long tarmac delays. This contingency plan is separate from and not a part of Air Canada's Conditions of Carriage.

Our contingency plan is intended to provide you with information regarding Air Canada's policies and procedures for handling your travel on our airline in the event of a lengthy ground delay, while you are onboard our aircraft.

Please note: This Tarmac Delay Plan applies to Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge flights. The tarmac delay plans for Air Canada Express flights operated by Jazz Aviation LP and Sky Regional Airlines Inc. departing from or arriving at a U.S. airport (including diversions) are available on their respective websites: Jazz Aviation LP and Sky Regional Airlines Inc.

Limits of lengthy onboard ground delays

Lengthy ground delays can take place during taxi-out prior departure, during taxi-in after landing or as a result of a diversion. Throughout all of these phases, the following limits apply:

  • Air Canada will not permit an aircraft to remain on the tarmac at a U.S. Airport for more than four (4) hours. Prior to reaching four (4) hours, Air Canada will return the aircraft to the gate or another suitable disembarkation point, where passengers will be allowed to deplane.

Delays longer than the above time limit may be necessary if:

  1.  the pilot-in-command determines there is a safety-related or security-related reason why the aircraft cannot leave its position on the tarmac to deplane passengers; or
  2.  Air Traffic Control advises the pilot-in-command that returning to the gate or another disembarkation point elsewhere in order to deplane passengers would significantly disrupt airport operations.

Passenger services during a lengthy onboard ground delay

Air Canada will provide passengers with adequate food and potable water no later than two (2) hours after the aircraft leaves the gate (in the case of departure) or touches down (in the case of arrival and diversions) if the aircraft remains on the tarmac, unless the pilot-in-command determines that safety or security considerations preclude such service.

For all flights, Air Canada will ensure that operable lavatory facilities will remain available while the aircraft remains on the tarmac. Air Canada will also ensure adequate medical attention is available, if needed.

Passengers will receive notifications regarding the status of the tarmac delay every 30 minutes while the aircraft is delayed, including the reason for the delay, if known.

Passengers will be notified beginning 30 minutes after scheduled departure time and every 30 minutes thereafter that they have the opportunity to deplane from an aircraft that is at the gate or another disembarkation area with the door open, if the opportunity to deplane actually exists.

Air Canada has taken steps to ensure sufficient resources are available to implement this contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays, when necessary. To better serve passengers, we have also coordinated this plan with the local airport authorities and service providers, U.S. Customs and Border Protection as well as the Transportation Security Administration at each large U.S. hub airport, medium hub airport, small hub airport and non-hub airport that Air Canada regularly serves, as well as its regular U.S. diversion airports.

Codeshare flights

In the event that you are on a flight operated by one of Air Canada’s codeshare partners, the tarmac delay contingency plan of the carrier operating your flight will apply in the event of a tarmac delay.


System Operations Control (SOC) is responsible for the management and quality of the plan. The decision-making for this plan lies within the SOC Centre. SOC will make their decisions taking into account, notably, the effects of flights delays, flight cancellations and lengthy tarmac delays on passengers. Airport Customer Service (ACS), Flight Operations and In-Flight Service will carry out the plan at the station and flight level.