Air Canada has more customer complaints about refunds to the U.S. Department of Transportation than any non-U.S. airline.
The department says Air Canada got 969 refund grievances out of 7,568 in April, or 13 percent, exceeding more than 80 providers in the category.
The Montreal-based airline ranked 3rd for refund complaints of any carrier, after United Airlines and American Airlines.
Air Canada and other Canadian airlines have actually declined to reimburse most customers whose flights were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S., like the European Union, requires airline companies to reimburse guests. A problem to the U.S. transportation department uses a prospective path to compensation for some Air Canada clients who have actually been rejected north of the border.
Regardless of the high grievance numbers, Air Canada carries less passengers on flights with a U.S. segment than British Air and Lufthansa in addition to 4 U.S. airlines, according to 2018 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Data.
WestJet Airlines Ltd. ranks right below Air Canada in cross-border guest numbers, but gathered the 10 th-most refund grievances at 217, connecting with Air France. WestJet has actually said customers on U.S. or U.K. flights are entitled to refunds.
Air Canada did not immediately respond to questions Monday.
” The APPR (Canada’s Air Guest Defense Regulations) and CTA just need that airline companies make sure passengers can finish their journeys,” the airline company said in a June 23 filing to the U.S. Department of Transport. “In addition, CTA has actually authorized making use of travel credits or vouchers during the COVID-19 epidemic.”
Air Canada has actually returned about $1 billion to clients who bought more expensive refundable tickets, however still has some $2.6 billion from advance ticket sales, according to an Air Canada executive’s testimony to the House of Commons health committee last week.
In location of refunds, Air Canada and other providers have generally provided travel credits to clients with flights cancelled as a result of the coronavirus crisis, which has considerably diminished their income amid broad border closures and low travel need.
Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat have stated their stance on refunds aligns with federal regulations and guidance posted over the previous 3 months by the Canadian Transport Firm (CTA).
Contract law and legal precedent recommend that’s not the case, says passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs.
” The law has been really clear in Canada for the past 16 years. It was declared on four various events by the Canadian Transport Agency’s lawfully binding decisions,” Lukacs stated.
” No one is suggesting the airline company must be paying settlement on top of the refund. We are just discussing returning to guests the cash that they paid but got no services for,” he said.
” A refund is a universal principal across Canada … Our entire economy would break down if a merchant was enabled to not provide a refund.”
The CTA’s approval of airline company travel credits– pointed out by Air Canada in its complaint reaction– was conditional on contracts of carriage and regulatory precedent, said CTA chairman Scott Streiner.
” It’s not a binding order,” he told The Canadian Press last week. The regulator’s online posts provide “a basic declaration” or “guidance” rather than difficult regulations, he stated.
In its problem reactions, Air Canada likewise argues that the U.S. transport department’s refund enforcement order contradicts case law and does not “have the force of law.”
The position stands in contrast to that of WestJet, which altered its policy to compensate customers on flights in between the U.S. and Canada that were cancelled due to the pandemic after “thoroughly keeping track of the regulatory frameworks” throughout jurisdictions.
Earlier this month, Air Canada quietly changed its refund policy earlier to allow some consumers with cancelled flight tickets to recoup their money– but not travelers whose trips originated in Canada.
Visitors with flights coming from the European Union, Switzerland or Iceland are entitled to get a refund, the airline company stated, but passengers who were slated to fly one-way or round-trip from Canada to Europe are not.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2020