Passengers and proponents shout fouls about Air Canada’s compensation


Passengers and supporters have provided Air Canada with workarounds, citing reasons for refunds, compensation, and flight delays and cancellations, including in the case of bad weather highlighted nearly two weeks ago. Is called.

Despite the overwhelming surge of summer travel, despite thousands of flight abandonments and delayed arrivals, customers have struggled to file successful complaints and navigate complex regulatory nuances. increase.

The country’s largest airline has informed some passengers that flights to Lisbon will be delayed due to “bad weather” 12 days before leaving Montreal on July 17.

Another traveler recently received a $ 60 “e-coupon” for a few days of baggage delay instead of a direct baggage fee refund entitled under both federal regulations and Air Canada’s passenger transportation contract. I received.

“It would be great if we could get the money back, not the coupons, especially because I don’t have an intermediate cost between the bag and the prepayment yet,” said Air Canada Rouge passenger Lina Daddle.

On Tuesday, the airline canceled its flight from Nashville to Toronto because of a “technical problem.” However, data from the tracking service Flightradar24 show that, despite the mechanical issues mentioned above, the same plane, which was scheduled to fly to Nashville for a trip, took off for Boston one hour after its first departure time. Is shown.

Paralegal Liam Walsh, a consumer protection advocate, called the quoted reasons “suspicious” and “suspicious.” Technical or mechanical malfunctions are not considered to be under the control of the carrier and do not need to be compensated to the customer, he said.

“I was pretty shocked by what I was seeing,” he said.

“What do they say it’s for maintenance and the aircraft will fly to Boston instead after an hour? Why don’t they delay Nashville’s flight slightly?”

In summary, Walshe said that “technical” or “maintenance” issues and the myriad cases of travel vouchers rather than refunds appear to be airlines trying to avoid “payments.”

“People are submitting claims and they have been rejected,” he said. “You will see all sorts of people saying there are inconsistent reasons.”

Air Canada said in an email that the weather description for Lisbon’s flights was a subsequently revised “wrong notice.”

“Air Canada fully understands customer disappointments and inconvenient schedule changes and is doing its best to alleviate these unfortunate situations,” Air Canada said in a statement. I am.

Travelers note that they can request a refund at any time using the original payment method and state that they will pay additional compensation under the Passenger’s Charter of Rights.

Airlines have been struggling to cope with the tsunami of travelers in the last few months of staff shortages, with pilots, baggage carriers, security guards and customs officers vacant.

As a result, waiting times at the airport are increasing, luggage delays and mazes are constantly occurring, and complaints and demands for compensation are increasing.

The airline says its salary is 93% of the 2019 level, despite reducing more than 15% of summer departures. With this move announced last week, flight schedules are well below 80% of the pre-pandemic figures that have been in operation since late spring.

Meanwhile, the federal government has employed about 1,200 screening officers since April, and although not all have permission to operate the scanner, more than 700 student border guards have been inspected. It states that it is located in place.

Still, travel turmoil continues, with Air Canada scoring a higher percentage of flight delays (about two-thirds) than any other major airline in the world for the fourth straight day since Saturday. Other airlines and airports are also experiencing excessive stagnation from Heathrow Airport in London to Guangzhou, China.

Gabor Lukacs, President of the Air PassengerRights Advocacy Group, says traveler frustration highlights the complexity and loopholes of Canada’s three-year-old Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR).

For example, travelers are not ready to disprove the airline’s claim that mechanical problems are behind the delay and they are not borrowing cash.

“These are not easy-to-understand and easy-to-enforce rights. It’s a fake,” he said, pointing out the small-value court ruling in Nova Scotia from July 2021.

“If consumer protection is the intended result of the regulatory system, the system should be assumed to be plain language, easy to understand and support a simple billing process,” the judgment said.

“The APPR, which aims to achieve enhanced passenger rights, does not achieve any of these. The language is complex and legal. Calling the claims system requires detailed or specific knowledge. And the process of seeking compensation, once called, does not help with a quick resolution. “

Under the rules, if a flight is canceled or delayed by more than 3 hours due to airline control and notified more than 2 weeks in advance, the passenger will arrange or refund another trip (traveler’s choice). You have to pay.

If the trip is canceled within 14 days, the passenger will be liable $ 1,000 for cancellations or delays of 9 hours or more and $ 400-700 for delays of 3-9 hours.

Passengers who choose to refuse rebooking, regardless of the duration of the notification, will be required to receive a $ 400 compensation in addition to the refund.

Airlines should aim to rebook passengers on flights on the network that take off within 9 hours of their original departure time. If that is not possible, according to the Passenger Rights Charter, you should propose to book on another airline’s network “as soon as possible” for free.

Christopher Reynolds

Canadian press