Progress report, Year 1 (2023-2024)

Table of Contents

In It for the Long Haul

At Air Transat, we are fully committed to meeting and exceeding our obligations to our customers, our colleagues, society and the environment. We work tirelessly to build and maintain an organization that remains united, focused and true to our values across borders. Our vision is to be and remain an innovative provider of sustainable, safe and accessible transportation solutions.

To this end, we actively participate in accessibility committees and collaborate with the government, airport authorities and other organizations to make sure that the needs of people with disabilities are considered in the workplace and throughout the travel experience.

We will keep doing everything we can to improve air travel for people with disabilities and to take concrete action moving forward. As such, we will continue to:

  • Consult people with disabilities, including disability organizations and their leaders, on how air travel services and infrastructure can be improved to ensure a safe and enjoyable travel experience
  • Improve passenger transfers and the handling of personal mobility aids
  • Improve accessibility services training for front-line employees and provide more education on passengers with disabilities
  • Support the continuing study and development of safe and feasible aircraft accessibility features that broaden air travel opportunities for passengers with disabilities
  • Work with federal departments and agencies, airport authorities and others to ensure that the needs of passengers with disabilities are addressed throughout the travel experience.

In short, we will continue to make safety and accessibility a top priority for all passengers who fly with Air Transat and work to identify, prevent and remove barriers because we recognize the fundamental right of passengers with disabilities to be treated with dignity and respect.


According to the 2022 Canadian Survey on Disability, 27% of Canadians aged 15 years or older, or 8.0 million people, had one or more disability that limited them in their daily activities. This is up from the previous survey in 2017 and is expected to continue to rise in the coming years, driven by such factors as an aging population.

Given this reality, Air Transat, as the country’s largest leisure carrier and member of the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC), is committed to taking steps to improve accessibility and services for passengers with disabilities. We believe in serving all our customers with enthusiasm and friendliness, and with an emphasis on safety at every stage of their experience. Our efforts to maximize the accessibility of our services are part of this pledge.

On June 1, 2023, we published our first accessibility plan, covering the years 2023–2025, as required under the Accessible Canada Act, which came into force in July 2019. The purpose of this legislation is to make Canada a barrier-free country by January 1, 2040.

Under the Act, federally regulated entities must prepare and publish multi-year accessibility plans and annual progress reports. This first progress report outlines the actions we have taken in the year since our accessibility plan was implemented. The information it contains covers the seven key areas stipulated in the Act, namely:

  1. Employment
  2. Built environment
  3. Information and communication technologies
  4. Communication other than ICTs
  5. Procurement of goods, services and facilities
  6. Design and delivery of programs and services
  7. Transportation.

A work group was set up to ensure our efforts remain aligned with these areas. It is formed of representatives of the teams listed below, who are mandated to work closely together to monitor the implementation of our accessibility plan and draft annual progress reports:

  • Customer Relations
  • Information Systems (Flight Operations)
  • Digital Experience
  • Passenger Services, Procedures and Training (Flight Operations and Ground Services)
  • Technical Operations
  • In-Flight Services and Customer Experience (Flight Operations)
  • Organizational Development and Inclusion
  • Strategic Procurement and Real Estate.

General Information About the Feedback Process

As part of the continuous improvement of our accessibility and special services policies and procedures, we invite our employees and customers to share their comments with us regarding their experiences. Any feedback about this progress report or our accessibility plan is welcome.

To share your feedback with us, please reach out to our Customer Relations team through one of the channels listed below. You may do so anonymously if you wish.

Communication Channel How to contact us
Online form Feedback process form
Postal mail Customer Relations Department 300 Léo-Pariseau Street, Suite 1200 Montreal, Quebec H2X 4C2
Social media Private messages on Facebook You will be redirected to a new website. A new window will open. , X You will be redirected to a new website. A new window will open. or Instagram You will be redirected to a new website. A new window will open.
Telephone 1–877–TRANSAT (872–6728) (toll-free) or 514–636–3630
Bell Relay ServiceFor people who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing, or those with speech disabilities

Alternate Formats and Timelines for Making These Formats Available

This progress report and our multi-year accessibility plan are available in large-print format on our website.

This report, our accessibility plan and a rundown of our feedback process can also be obtained in print form or in Braille or audio format. To request a copy, please contact us via one of the channels indicated above. We are committed to responding to your request as soon as is feasible but not later than:

  • 45 days after the day that a request for a document in Braille or audio format is received
  • 15 days after the day that a request for a document in any other format is received.

How Feedback Is Analyzed

After receiving feedback from customers or employees about their accessibility-related experiences, the Customer Relations team will analyze the issues raised and discuss them with the teams involved. We will then identify possible solutions and assess the budget implications should a financial investment be required to rectify the situation.

If the proposed solution entails updating an existing procedure or drafting a new one, the teams specializing in the matter will be included in the process. They may also be asked to distribute the new or updated procedure to the staff to whom it applies.

Feedback Received During the Past Year

We have not received much feedback on our accessibility plan since it was published in July 2023. In the comments received, three key areas were brought to the attention of our Customer Relations team.

The first area concerned certain shortcomings with regard to airport services, at one location in particular. These include excessive wait times for help or assistance or, in some circumstances, a total lack of services. Our analysis showed that the services provided did not meet our standards, so much so that we decided to change service providers in the airport in question.

We were also advised that the Canadian Video Relay Service (VRS) might be an interesting option for providing greater accessibility to our passengers. We therefore conducted an analysis on the feasibility of acquiring a VRS-compatible telephone system. VRS is a basic telecommunications service that enables people with hearing or speech disabilities who use sign language to communicate with voice telephone users.

The third area we looked into was in response to a comment received on existing weight limits for mobility aids brought on board, which we revisited and analyzed. Our findings led us to eliminate these limits for our largest aircraft (A330), although some size restrictions were upheld due to the physical constraints of other airplanes in our fleet and in an effort to continue meeting stringent safety standards.

Regardless of outcome, all feedback received was read and reviewed by the relevant parties.


Engaging with our stakeholders is vital to delivering better outcomes. We are committed to consulting with customers and employees with disabilities, as well as other members of the community, to identify obstacles and find solutions that meet these specific needs.

Continuous improvement is at the heart of our approach, which we are actively working to broaden to better understand and analyze the needs of people with disabilities.

Consultations with Employees About This Progress Report

While preparing this Progress Report, we reached out to members of our team with disabilities for their thoughts and insights. Their feedback also helped us ensure that the wording of the report is clear and easy to understand.

We talked to people in our Contact Centre and on our Digital Experience team, as they were actively involved in developing the accessibility plan in 2023. We asked both groups whether people who identify as having disabilities were interested in reading the progress report and providing their comments and feedback. We then sent a copy of the report to each person who volunteered to help in the format they requested.

We took most of the feedback into consideration and made the corresponding adjustments. We will also bear the other comments and suggestions received in mind during the next steps of implementing the accessibility plan.

Overall, the general feedback received from the people we reached out to about our ongoing commitment to accessibility is positive.

Feedback on Accessibility at Air Transat

In June 2023, we partnered with AccessNow, a go-to resource for accessibility information, to assess the travel experience of a passenger with reduced mobility on an Air Transat flight. The goal was to identify potential barriers and areas for improvement at various points during the trip. AccessNow’s recommendations were as follows:

  • Continue to focus on providing clear, comprehensive information in line with the specific needs of passengers with disabilities before their flight
  • Opt for more inclusive, supportive language in the reservation confirmation email (e.g., by emphasizing the type of assistance required rather than the disability)
  • Explore other approaches to prioritize integrated transportation and ensure mobility aids are transported safely (e.g., work with airport authorities to improve infrastructure, train staff on how to handle mobility aids carefully and with respect)
  • Develop the appropriate digital infrastructure to simplify and improve the process of sharing information with people with disabilities
  • Draft clear guidelines on how to store wheelchairs and provide comprehensive training to employees to ensure these guidelines are communicated across the organization, and understood and obeyed by all employees.

The Customer Experience team then used this information to draft an initial accessibility analysis focusing on four key points along the customer journey, namely:

  1. Planning a trip and finding a flight
  2. Arriving at the airport and checking in
  3. Going through security screening
  4. Boarding an airplane.

A second report will expand upon this information and examine other points during the journey. This will include customer consultations to obtain their feedback. We will then use these findings to put forward a series of suggestions about how to address barriers or challenges that arise.

Latest Progress Made in the Seven Areas Outlined in the Accessible Canada Act

1. Employment

Air Transat has always been dedicated to fostering a workplace where people can grow, thrive and unlock their full potential. The renewal of our corporate identity in 2022 and the formalizing of our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) commitments reflect this pledge and are guiding us forward toward new horizons.

One of our goals in this regard, which is fundamental to how we do business, is to be better in touch with who we are as an organization. Bearing this in mind, we distributed a confidential self-identification questionnaire to all Air Transat employees between July 4 and August 4, 2023.

The following questions were included to help us gain a better understanding of the experiences and concerns of employees with disabilities:

  • Could we make accommodations that would make it easier for you to fully participate in your workplace?
  • If so, what are your suggestions?

An initial analysis of the data gathered through this questionnaire gave us a clearer picture of the situation at Air Transat with regard to people with disabilities. In an effort to ensure that these results continue to reflect the current situation, access to the questionnaire will remain open so that employees can edit the information at any time should their circumstances change.

Moreover, in order to promote the use of respectful language and demystify some of the concepts around inclusion and accessibility, a two-hour in-person workshop on DEI and unconscious bias was held for all Air Transat managers in the fall of 2023. An online version of the workshop was also made available to employees across the organization.

Finally, the Talent Acquisition team took a course in inclusive recruitment that helped us evaluate our human resources practices through this lens.

2. Built Environment

We recognize the importance of making sure that all of our facilities can be accessed by people with disabilities. We therefore see to it that all our aircraft and our workplaces meet accessibility standards.

We have implemented a remote work policy to provide employees with as much flexibility as possible so they can find the work arrangement that best suits them. Employees also have access to best practice guides and instructions on how to properly set up their workstations whether they’re based out of the office or at home.

Additionally, we launched an accessibility assessment of the work environment at Air Transat. In the coming year, we will ensure that priorities are established based on the findings of this process and the resulting actions executed in a timely fashion.

3. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)

We understand that it is vital to make our telecommunications systems, computer systems and networks, including our website and mobile app, accessible to all users. Our website has a section dedicated to accessibility and special needs that contains all the information our customers may need to plan their trip with Air Transat.

We are also committed to working with the latest technologies and ensuring that these technologies are accessible in order to avoid adding barriers for people with disabilities.

3.1 Accessibility of Check-In Kiosks

In December 2023, we rolled out the new version of the Amadeus Altéa system1 in our check-in kiosks, with new features designed to improve accessibility.

This new version of the departure control system complies with the core aspects that a product or service must provide to be considered accessible by Shared Services Canada. It allows people with visual, hearing or motor disabilities to check in using features that meet their specific needs, including:

  • Usage without vision, with limited vision or without perception of colour
  • Usage without hearing or with limited hearing
  • Usage with no or limited vocal capability
  • Usage with limited manipulation or strength.

The use of these check-in kiosks is meant to be as automated as possible. For example, voice instructions begin immediately after a pair of headphones has been plugged in. Audio mode is required by people with a visual impairment, but it is also helpful for users with other barriers to reading such as dyslexia or low literacy, as well as those who are learning a new language.

This new version complies with the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations mandated by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) and the national standard CSA/ASC B651.2-07, Accessible design for self-service interactive devices.

These kiosks are owned, operated and administered by the various Canadian airport authorities.

3.2 Accessibility of Our Website and Mobile App

We have set up a multidisciplinary accessibility committee made up of IT system integrators, webmasters and web content writers. The committee meets monthly and is tasked with:

  • Applying Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to any new features added to our website and mobile app
  • Quality assurance testing of accessibility issues every time new content is deployed or new pages are created
  • Making ongoing corrections using the Siteimprove accessibility tool and measuring their effectiveness
  • Training new team members on the principles of accessibility.

These efforts helped drive significant progress during the year. The accessibility rating for rose 5.3 percentage points, from 81.8% in June 2023 to 87.1% in March 2024. In November 2023, it surpassed the industry benchmark set by Siteimprove.

The year also saw us initiate a review of the content of the Accessibility section of our website. The goal is to make it easier to understand by using plain language.

4. Communication Other Than ICTs

Good communication between our staff and our customers is key to providing excellent service. This communication must be taken into account in meeting the specific needs of many different customers. We therefore strive to ensure our employees use clear, respectful and accessible language when interacting with people with disabilities. All customer-facing employees, including baggage and cargo handlers who may be called upon to deal directly with the public, have received extensive accessibility training.

We also ensure that safety features cards are available in large print and Braille. Passenger safety information is available in audio and video format, with the option of being able to adjust the volume and font size as needed.

4.1 Expanded Accessibility Training

During the year, all aircraft cabin crew members took a course in how to respond to requests from passengers with special needs. This gave them the opportunity to refresh their knowledge related to this matter.

We also expanded the pool of employees who are provided with accessibility training to include all airport-based employees, including baggage and cargo handlers who may be called upon to deal directly with the public.

4.2 Activities to Familiarize Children on the Autism Spectrum with Air Travel

In collaboration with Aéroports de Montréal, Giant Steps and Autism Montreal, Air Transat holds an event every year, known as Premium Kids, to help autistic children become better acquainted with the travel process in the most authentic way possible. Every step of the airport experience is run through, starting with the carpark shuttle through to security screening, customs and boarding.

We also took part in the first annual “Ready, Set, Fly… with YYZ” experience in the fall of 2023, which similarly provided an airport familiarization tour for families with neurodivergent needs. This new collaboration with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and Autism Ontario made it possible to hold an event designed specifically for children on the autism spectrum, based on recommendations from Autism Ontario.

Like Premium Kids in Montreal, Ready Set Fly is an opportunity for our staff to learn more about the unique needs of autistic individuals and be better prepared to provide them with the services and support that can make all the difference.

5. Procurement of Goods, Services and Facilities

We are constantly adjusting our practices to make our services as inclusive as possible for people with disabilities. We take accessibility-related issues into account in all our decisions and operations. We make it a point to factor in accessibility from the outset of our procurement processes to mitigate potential barriers.

5.1 Newly Designed Aircraft Interiors

We have incorporated the principles of accessibility into the procurement processes for the internal layout of our future aircraft. All new airplanes will have to comply with these principles, which will be essential going forward.

6. Design and Delivery of Programs and Services

We make sure that all our services and programs are developed and implemented with accessibility in mind.

6.1 Optimization of On-Board Services

Customer feedback and service shortcomings have prompted us to make changes to our operations and our training program to provide better support to and eliminate barriers for customers with disabilities.

In reviewing and enhancing our training program for front-line employees, we consulted with Kéroul, an organization that specializes in services for people with disabilities.

The updated program will be provided to all 1,800 cabin crew members at Air Transat between September 2024 and August 2025. It will cover as broad a spectrum of disabilities as possible, including various forms of neurodivergence.

In addition, between 2022 and 2024, cabin crew members working on subcontracted flights operated by SmartLynx and Smartwings, two airlines we leased aircraft from on a temporary basis, underwent training. This ensures that the services provided to our customers on theses flights continue to meet our quality standards and our obligations under the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations (ATPDR).

Furthermore, the 540 people who joined our cabin crews in 2023 (representing nearly a quarter of our cabin crew workforce) received training before they started working with the public. Current cabin crew personnel are required to undergo regular online training as part of a three-year training cycle, which actively promotes a warm, personal approach to providing services to customers and delivering pre-flight instructions.

6.2 Improvements to Ground Services

During the year, various steps were taken to improve the accessibility of the ground services we provide in all the airports where we operate. These include:

  • Making regular updates to accessibility handbooks for ground services in line with industry standards and customer expectations
  • Enhancing the content of accessibility training for ground services staff to promote high-quality service and manage accessibility-related requirements as effectively as possible
  • Updating Air Transat’s handling labels for mobility aids to indicate more clearly the types of devices accepted
  • Lifting the maximum weight restriction for mobility aids accepted on A330 aircraft to accommodate people travelling with heavier devices.

We strive to review and act quickly and efficiently on comments received from our front-line airport personnel, our Customer Relations Department and our Contact Centre, with the necessary corrective measures or improvements introduced as needed. We also update our website regularly to ensure our customers have access to the latest information on requirements and specifications with regard to mobility aids.

Lastly, our ground services employees are currently hard at work developing a comprehensive database with details on the facilities, tools and devices available at every airport served by Air Transat. This database will be incorporated into our Destination Manual so that personnel who deal directly with customers with special needs have information on accessibility-related services across the Air Transat network available at their fingertips.

7. Transportation

We do not manage ground transportation as part of our regular operations. Nevertheless, we are aware of how important it is to work to eliminate any barriers that customers with disabilities may encounter in the transportation used to access our services.

Canadian Transportation Agency’s Accessibility-Related Regulations

The accessibility requirements we are subject to come from various pieces of legislation and regulations adopted by the Canadian Transportation Agency pursuant to subsection 170(1) of the Canada Transportation Act.

This report describes the progress we have made in implementing the various elements in our accessibility plan with respect to the provisions to which Air Transat is subject. Please see pages 8 to 13 for further details.

The sections of the following law and regulations are the ones that apply specifically to Air Transat:

1 Software that allows airlines to manage passengers individually, from check-in to boarding, and provide them with services that cater to their specific needs.