National Post: Canadians Furious Over Airlines’ Refund Refusals

NationalPost

A growing chorus of voices is demanding Ottawa force airlines to reimburse cash-strapped travellers the cost of trips that were cancelled because of the pandemic, rather than offering a 24-month travel credit, National Post reports

On Wednesday, support for a House of Commons petition demanding the feds require airlines to refund trips jumped from 500 in the morning to well nearly 5,900 by late afternoon.

Border shutdowns around the world over the past two months have hammered Canadian airlines’ bottom lines. Last Friday, Air Canada announced plans to slash its workforce by more than 20,000 jobs after reducing its flight schedule by 95%.

But a recent report by the Journal de Montréal says Air Canada is sitting on $2.6 billion in “prepaid passenger income” as of 31MAR.

The petition was started by Marie-Ève Dumont of Option Consommateurs, a consumer rights advocacy group in Montreal, and sponsored by Bloc Québécois MP Xavier Barsalou-Duval.

Barsalou-Duval said that Canadian airline customers’ money has been “confiscated” by companies who refuse to issue refunds in a time when millions of workers are unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don’t think that it’s up to the average citizen to put up $5,000, $10,000 or even $15,000 to keep a company afloat when they’d like to be able to pay their mortgage or buy groceries after possibly having lost their job. It’s not a simple situation for many people,” the Bloc said.

According to the Canadian Transportation Agency, the use of vouchers to compensate cancelled travel “could be a reasonable approach in the extraordinary circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

But that approach doesn’t seem to be resonating with consumers.

The CTA says it’s received nearly 5,100 complaints between 11MAR and 19MAY. It can’t say how many of those were specifically about refunds, but most flights in Canada were grounded during that time, so complaints about issues such as punctuality would presumably be down, says National Post. 


Comments

Kenneth allan zubko - May 22, 2020 @ 17:02
I booked a flight out of habana Cuba paid, the next day it was canceled to me that is fraud, now I need to go to the credit card company to dispute it. Will not fly with AC again.

Carol Taylor - May 22, 2020 @ 11:49
When the Vouchers go back to cash we are all losing that commission too so agents wont ever be paid on years of planning. Can we ask for the compensation to keep agents afloat while we wait it out

Patricia - May 22, 2020 @ 02:51
There is not only the issue that airlines collected and sit on the money for a services not delivered, they also collected the money for taxes they never have to forward to the airports, governments etc. as those fights got cancelled. On a ticket to Europe those taxes make easy up 50% of those fares. While we can have a discussion about the legality of FTC for fares excluding taxes, those taxes paid should definitely be refunded. Not everyone will use the FTC for the same destination when rebooking and should be charged for the new taxes only when the FTC is indeed used. AC is cancelling flights for the complete summer schedule around the world. Flights have therefore been cancelled even for September flights and those schedule readjustments are being financed by consumers, who paid for tickets to destinations the airlines cancelled out of schedule!. To top it up the travel insurance provider can back out of paying out cancellation claims for those same flights as the airlines can issue FTVs. To make things even worth, we all know that there will be huge price increases once the bans will be lifted. So the customer will eventually have to add additional funds to be able to use these FTVs. However you look at this....the consumer are paying the bill!

LeAnne - May 21, 2020 @ 21:10
American are angry about this rule (U.S. Department of Transportation backs the airlines!!).

Kathleen - May 21, 2020 @ 20:50
I see this has been addressed but I am reconfirming it. Travel insurance companies have not been honoring the cancel policy and giving out refunds.

Jackie - May 21, 2020 @ 12:40
Travel Insurance is always a great protection as any other insurance. In this instance it is the Insurance Companies that have changed wording/course on what they deem as compensation. The same way the airlines deem what they think is compensation. The entire travel industry is in chaos but the consumer should always have a choice. If they purchased insurance, according to the terms of coverage they should be protected by the insurer. This is where the governing body needs to step in. If the consumer chose not to buy protection well then the voucher option offer should be acceptable as the consumer had a choice to protect the travel investment for "Unforseen" reasons. My complaint is the Insurance Industry and this should not stand ground as most credit cards also include this benefit and now they are deeming the voucher as compensation in form of refund.

Tanis - May 21, 2020 @ 12:14
Briana's comment about the purchase of travel insurance is completely incorrect. Travel insurance companies are NOT compensating passengers that are offered the 24 month future travel credit as they view the credit as a "reasonable compensation" and therefore no financial loss is being incurred.

Barry - May 21, 2020 @ 12:14
I agree that travellers should have insurance, however, the insurance companies have ruled that a future voucher is compensation enough and therefore the traveller has not suffered a loss.

Briana - May 21, 2020 @ 12:06
Although I sympathize with travellers, it must be noted that 70-80% of travellers refuse travel cancelation insurance. Clients who had some form of cancelation insurance got their money back from the insurance company.
Perhaps like auto insurance, it,s about time travel insurance, both medical as well as cancelation, should be made MANDATORY.
Propose this to the MP who is pushing for this,

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