Airline passengers denied refunds amid COVID-19 propose class-action lawsuit
TORONTO -- A couple from Whitby, Ont. who had their dream vacation to Hawaii cancelled due to COVID-19 were shocked when Air Canada told them they would only receive a travel voucher.
“Of course I feel deserve a refund and I think the airlines should be giving it to us," Mary Allan said.
Allan told CTV News Toronto that she plans to join a proposed class-action lawsuit that could involve tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of Canadian airline passengers.
The proposed class-action lawsuit involves Air Canada, WestJet, Swoop, Air Transit and Sunwing Airlines for offering travel credits to passengers and not refunds.
The Montreal-based firm Champlain Lawyers is handling the case and says airline passengers who had their flights cancelled due to COVID-19 should be entitled to their money back.
“The contracts of carriage between the passenger and the airline are very clear and it’s the right to a refund," lawyer Sebastien Paquette said.
To take part in the class action, a passenger would have to have purchased a ticket before March 11 for a flight to be taken after March 13. The proposed suit will be seeking refunds for passengers as well as damages.
“I can tell you that the main concern is that some families don't have that much money and that could have been their savings for the year. They want that money back and they may not want to travel anymore," Paquette said.
The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) had said on its website airlines don't have to give refunds if the cancellation was outside it's control, but the advocacy group Air Passenger Rights sent the agency a letter saying that it “creates the false impression of a legally binding determination by the CTA, and misleads consumers about their rights.”
The CTA declined to comment when CTV News Toronto reached out.
CTV News Toronto also reached out to the airlines named in the proposed class action.
“We do believe…we do not have to issue a full refund for travels that have not been completed. By issuing a 24 month-credit voucher, we believe that we are offering an acceptable solution,” an Air Transat spokesperson said.
Allan says the other portions of her trip to Hawaii are to be refunded by Hawaiian Airlines, but she wants a refund from Air Canada as well.
“We passengers are assertive and aggressive and we are not going to roll over and play dead," she said.
The proposed class-action lawsuit has not yet been certified by a court.