Canadian airlines such as Air Canada and WestJet have been accused of making up excuses in order to avoid paying compensation to travelers. As anyone who has traveled over the past few months will admit, the travel industry is a mess right now. From spiraling flight costs to flights that are delayed or canceled completely – not to mention luggage going missing in great numbers – flying right now is a not an easy endeavour.
Yet whilst travelers can usually consider themselves protected against the worst, travelers in Canada have accused airlines of offering wishy-washy excuses to get out of paying compensation. Through a series of actions such as changing their stories and reasons for their delays and cancellations and not offering details, passengers have grown weary of airlines in Canada trying to get out of paying compensation – and they demand better. Here’s a closer look at this story, plus a recap of passenger rights and how they should benefit from flights that have been affected.
Airlines Making Excuses – What Travelers Should Know
Whilst passengers are seemingly well protected in the event of delays in theory, in practice the reality is quite different, as a growing number of Canadian travelers are beginning to find out this year. More and more travelers have criticized the response to their valid claims for compensation by large airlines such as Air Canada and WestJet, accusing them of making up excuses and stretching the truth in order to get out of their legal requirement to pay compensation to travelers.
Passenger Scott Aalgaard described what he called highly suspicious excuses from Air Canada for denying his right to compensation. He was first notified that his flight had been delayed on July 5th due to a ‘maintenance issue‘. Eventually the flight was cancelled due to ‘staffing issues‘.
Three days later when he filed for compensation, he was denied because his flight was cancelled due to a ‘labor dispute‘ outside the airlines control.
This isn’t the first time passengers have gone public to the media. One such traveler highlighted an incident that saw herself and her fiancé – who were on the same flight – filing for compensation after a delay of six hours on Christmas Day. Her partner was awarded $700 in compensation for the delay in line with the current legal requirements. However, she was left empty handed after Air Canada replied that the delay was due to a safety-related “technical fault”, thus making it outside the airline’s control and not warranting compensation. Two identical passengers, two wildly different outcomes.
That isn’t the only example of funny business that has been brought to the fore. Other passengers have complained of airlines flip-flopping between different reasons for delays and rejecting claims for compensation despite the reasons being within the airline’s control and thus worthy of redress, such as flight crew availability. Other airlines, such as WestJet, have been criticized for not providing travelers with adequate details of why their flight has been canceled, making filing a claim difficult.
This isn’t the first time that travelers have been suspicious of airlines trying to get out of paying compensation. An inquiry that finished in November 2021 stated that whilst they found no evidence the airlines “intentionally misled passengers,” they did however feel that information provided to travelers “was inadequate, terse and unclear.” The CTA has called on travelers to file complaints if they feel aggrieved.
Passenger Compensation – Information For Travelers
In the event that travelers in Canada are subjected to a delayed or a cancelled flight, they are within their rights to receive compensation from their airline. For large airlines, such as Air Canada or WestJet, the levels of compensation a are as follows:
- 3-6 hour delays – $400
- 6-9 hour delays – $700
- 9+ hour delays – $1000
Travelers on small airlines are also due redress for delayed flights, though these amount to sums of $125, $250 and $500 for the same respective delay lengths as above.
Compensation is only due to passengers who face a delay or cancellation that is within the airline’s control, and isn’t safety-related. Travelers have a year to make a claim for compensation and whilst airlines can offer alternative forms of compensation, such as flight tickets, vouchers or credit, passengers are within their rights to ask for it in monetary form. Such rights were enshrined in an update to policy from the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) on December 15th, 2019.
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