Travellers frustrated after airline denies refunds, provides credits only
TORONTO -- Canadians who had their flights cancelled due to COVID-19 continue to tell politicians they want Ottawa to put pressure on the airline industry to offer refunds and not credits.
Thousands of flights were cancelled due to the pandemic and Canada’s major airlines are only offering travel vouchers and not refunds. Many Canadians have taken to social media to complain, saying airlines in some other countries have been required to give refunds.
During a House of Commons committee in Ottawa on Tuesday, Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau was asked why he wasn't forcing airlines to give passengers their money back as some airlines have done in other countries.
“Maybe I’ll start by bluntly asking you, are you planning to have airlines issue full refunds to passengers who were not able to use their tickets?" Taylor Bachrach, a Member of Parliament with the New Democratic Party asked Garneau.
Garneau answered by saying, “iIn the best of all worlds we would like to make sure all passengers are happy, but the airlines have been hammered by the pandemic."
Garneau said airlines have been financially devastated by COVID-19 and many are not yet back in operation, however they still facing serious fixed costs.
Andrew Lo of Richmond Hill wanted to buy an airline ticket for his daughter Victoria, who goes to school in London, England.
Lo purchased a ticket with Air Transat on June 6, but he was surprised when he received a notice that the flight was cancelled on June 11.
“When I booked the flight with Air Transat I did it online on their website and at no time did it mention that their operations were suspended," Lo said.
“The fact that they will let someone buy a ticket while their operations are under suspension doesn't make any sense."
Lo was surprised when he was told he would only be issued a travel credit not a refund. His daughter was upset that her father would have to buy her another ticket on another airline.
“I feel bad that my Dad was ready to pay for the ticket and they completely cancelled it" said Victoria Lo.
“I think that the travel credit, which is valid for 24 months, is a satisfactory option under the circumstances for most of our customers,” President and CEO of Air Transat Jean-Marc Eustache said in a statement. “Canada has yet to come up with any specific support plan for the airline industry.”
Air Transat plans to resume flights starting July 23. Air Canada had said its vouchers would be good for two years, but recently changed its policy so that vouchers will have no expiry date.