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Ontario couple missed 2 days of their week-long vacation due to a flight delay and cancellation. Here's why they were denied compensation

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An Ontario couple planned to celebrate their anniversary at a resort in Jamaica in February. Despite meticulously planning the trip, their WestJet flight out of Toronto Pearson International Airport had been abruptly cancelled.

"I asked, 'Why was it cancelled?' They said we would have to contact WestJet to find out," Michelle Fraser of Etobicoke told CTV News Toronto.

Fraser and her husband, Victor, were told they could fly out the next day, so they decided to book a hotel near the airport. But when they arrived at Pearson the following day, they were told their afternoon flight was delayed.

By the time they flew into Jamaica, it was late, and their flight delays forced them to miss nearly two full days of their seven-day vacation.

"There wasn't time to do anything with those two days that we missed. I had wanted to visit with my husband's family, but we had to cut our visit short because we had also made other plans for our trip," said Fraser.

Under Air Passenger Protection Rules, if a large airline's flight is delayed by three to six hours, travellers receive $400 in compensation. If it's between six and nine hours, fliers receive $700, and longer than that, $1,000.

The Frasers applied to WestJet for $1,000 each, but their claim was denied.

"They took two days away [from] my stay in Kingston, where I was getting to know my family and I was really ticked off that that happened. They are saying there is no compensation because it's an aircraft issue," said Fraser.

An Ontario couple planned to celebrate their anniversary at a resort in Jamaica in February. Still, despite meticulously planning the trip, their WestJet flight out of Toronto Pearson International Airport had been abruptly cancelled.A spokesperson for WestJet confirmed the Frasers' flight was cancelled and delayed due to "unscheduled maintenance for safety purposes."

"We understand the guest's disappointment with the delay in arriving to Kingston however, WestJet is obligated to follow the APPR set by the Canadian Transportation Agency, and a cancellation required for safety purposes is not eligible for compensation under the regulation," the statement reads.

"As per the regulations, compensation for inconvenience only applies for delays and cancellations fully within the airline's control. In the case of Mr. Fraser, both flights in question were cancelled and delayed due to safety reasons out of WestJet's control. "

Gabor Lukacs, president of Air Passenger Rights, said the regulations that deal with compensation have many loopholes that airlines can use to avoid paying.

"The overarching problem is that it's an unreasonably complicated and impractical air passenger regime, which is designed to fail," said Lukacs.

WestJet should have paid for tickets with a competing airline, Lukacs said, so the Frasers could have made it to Jamaica sooner.

He advises passengers to document delays and cancellations as best as possible to help prove their case and suggests going to small claims court if travellers aren't successful in receiving compensation through the airline.

"If the airline refuses to pay you compensation, as required by law, like any other breach of contract, you can go to small claims court," said Lukacs.

Fraser thinks they deserve compensation for the two missed days of their holiday.

"I want them to give back in monetary value for the two days I have missed. Don't hide behind policies, be communitive and respect the public," said Fraser.

Airline passengers in Europe have a lot more protection than Canadians do. Under their system, if there are flight delays due to maintenance issues, they must still compensate customers for the delays. 

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