Air Canada Offering Miles Or Non-Expiring Vouchers For Cancelations, Insists They Are In Compliance With The DoT For Not Refunding Flights

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Air Canada is now allowing for bookings made from 3/1/20-6/30/20 to be converted into a voucher that has no expiration date.

Alternatively, you can convert your ticket into Aeroplan miles at an effective cost of 1.3 cents per mile. That’s a lot pricier than a similar offer from Turkish Airlines and than the offers to buy Aeroplan miles earlier this month. But on the plus side as the charge posts as travel this way, you can earn 2 points per dollar on Sapphire Preferred, 3 points per dollar on Sapphire Reserve, or 5 points per dollar on AMEX Platinum.

Those options are even available on flights that are not cancelled, as long as you cancel your reservation at least 2 hours prior to the scheduled departure.

Those are nice options to have, though Air Canada is bringing Aeroplan back in house later this year and there may be changes to the program. I wouldn’t want to invest in their miles at that rate given the uncertainty involved. And if the airline is forced into bankruptcy, those non-expiring vouchers may be forfeited.

Meanwhile, Air Canada is doubling down on their refusal to provide cash refunds for flights that they cancelled.

Here is how they responded to multiple DansDeals readers who filed a DoT complaint:

“Similarly to other major airlines, Air Canada is offering all of our customers whose travel was cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis, including those with non-refundable tickets, the option to keep the remaining value of the ticket for future travel.

Our policy of offering the remaining value of the ticket for future travel is not only consistent with how major airlines are managing this unique situation, but it is also in line with our publicly published tariff rules. Our policy states that in the case of uncontrollable cancellations, the airline’s responsibility is to provide alternate travel options (as opposed to refunds), at the end of the event that caused the cancellation.
 
This is also consistent with the Canadian Transportation Agency, which recently confirmed in a statement regarding COVID-19, the appropriateness of offering the remaining value of the ticket for future travel due to this unprecedented situation. This statement can be found here.
 
We realize you may disagree and view this approach as inconsistent with the US DOT’s Enforcement Notice.  However, we believe that our position is consistent with US law having examined this question in depth.”

This is nonsense of course.

  • Most major airlines are offering refunds at this point for cancelled flights, so which airlines are they referring to?
  • The US DoT has been abundantly clear COVID-19 is not a valid excuse for airlines to refuse cash refunds for flights cancelled by the airlines. They stated this April and they gave another harsh warning to airlines in May.
  • I don’t know of any other airline having the gall to claim that they are in compliance with US law. Airlines are trying to delay the inevitable so that they can hold onto your cash, but even El Al realized the folly of that approach.

Air Canada is sticking it in the DoT’s eye and daring them to issue an enforcement action against them. While Air Canada can hide behind the cowardly ruling of the CTA for flights that don’t touch the US, that’s not the case for flights that touch the US and I hope they are put in their place.

In the meantime, if you are trying to get an Air Canada refund for a flight that begins, ends, or transits the US, and have already filed a DoT complaint and gotten this response, I’d advise you to:

  • File a new DoT complaint with the response from Air Canada to let the DoT know that Air Canada refuses to comply with their order.
  • File a chargeback with your credit card, and be sure to include the DoT refund orders to the airlines.
  • Take Air Canada to small claims court based on violating DoT policy.

Have you had to deal with a cancelled Air Canada flight? Will you accept a voucher or miles, or will you fight for a cash refund?

HT: Yehudaa

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28 Comments On "Air Canada Offering Miles Or Non-Expiring Vouchers For Cancelations, Insists They Are In Compliance With The DoT For Not Refunding Flights"

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Ephraim

Dan, has there been a change in policy at United for those who took certs already on tickets bought before 3/1? My flight cancelled and was rebooked to a 5 hour earlier flight which was no good. I took the certs under duress. Does the new DOT directive apply here? I already filed at the DOT and attempted a chargeback on my debit.

Yossi

I have a Windsor to Tel Aviv RT on 6/3 using ultimate rewards. The flight will probably be canceled. Ill probably just have to take the voucher. Until last week the voucher was only good for 2 years.

Jj1

On a similar note, I booked a flight with Avios that was cancelled. Instead of refunding the points that don’t expire, they gave me travel vouchers with an expiration date and have to be redeemed over the phone. Any point in complaining?

Chani

I’m waiting for a cash refund for 6 tickets! I just filed a chargeback with my credit card, being that air Canada won’t refund!

Zevi

I’ve had similar problem.
West Jet representative tried telling me that they have to follow Canadian law only and not US law. Which is downright ridiculous. Filed a DoT complaint and got nothing out of them. (Also ElAl: TLV to Heathrow filled out the online form 2 weeks ago and it went through alright and they haven’t yet processed the refund)

Blake

Dan you mentioned in the post that if AC were to go bankrupt you’d lose the value of the voucher. However as a Canadian I can easily state that Air Canada is at “too big to fail” status in the eyes of the Canadian government and would be bailed out. So no worry there. Also, you should find posts from Gabor Lukacs, he is a very big Air Passenger Rights advocate in Canada. He has stated and brought this to the government’s attention, that Canadian airlines must refund money if the airlines cancelled the flights due to COVID. The law is actually clear on it as well. The government on the other hand is not currently enforcing the rules out of fear that it may cause smaller airlines into bankruptcy. Air Canada is just using this leniency for their advantage. Once the whole craziness dies down a bit more I think Air Canada might change their tune or t he government will force them too. It’s not a matter of if but more a matter of when.

Jim

Why are people complaining about Air Canada not giving your money back? They know DOT doesn’t enforce the law and that’s why they get away with it . People should file complaint against DOT for not enforcing the law and only then air Canada will give money back

Moish

I am not sure you realize that a credit card chargeback will not help if it’a VISA issued card. Visa has been clear, that no refund is required if “An action taken by the government explicitly prohibits the merchant from offering the service due to COVID-19.”

Mark

Buy your ticket with amex platinum for 5x points and you’ll bring the cost down closer to 1.2c per mile

Gershon dubin

Air canada gave me a voucher good until 12/31/20. I put in for a chargeback on my Amex card & got it with no hassle.

JD

Hate to be the bearer of good news. AC cancelled my BWI YYZ connecting unto TLV. They booked us outbound out of Dulles and return to DCA. I called late last night (to the español line) and in 20 mins they obliged me and booked me PHL-YYZ-TLV RT at no extra cost. Fare difference would have been close to $300 per ticket. I’m bummed to KSML on those flights Aug17-31.

Zalmen

Had tickets from US to AMS booked on finnair, filed a chargeback with Amex just got a response from Amex that the airline is only offering a voucher and because of the dispute I have to pay an extra 100$… And they’re charging me back the full amount… Air Canada does have some airlines that don’t follow the rules apparently…

Zev

I booked a flight with Chase points on my Sapphire Preferred, which I got 1.25/ dollar. The flight was cancelled and instead of refunding the points that don’t expire, they gave me travel vouchers with an expiration date. Can I fight with Chase on this?

Zevi

Side note: I called WestJet and they’ve come around and are now giving refunds for transborder flights from March 1st to March 28th. They told me that they will give for the following few weeks at a later date because they don’t want to overload their systems all at one.

SM

Overload their systems = manage their cash flows.

Jimmy

Dan, Due to US > Canada travel restriction back in March, I requested Chase Reserve Travel help me cancel my wife’s flight using my points for 4/5 travel. I had gone back & forth via email & by phone by to no avail. Last contact I rec’d back is noted below. What would you do?
——————————————————————————————————
Thank you for giving Chase Travel the opportunity to resolve your issue. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused. We are reaching out to you in regards to your trip which you have requested for a refund.

First and foremost, we want to assure you that we understand the urgency and reason for your request. Please note that Chase Ultimate Rewards is bound by the airline policies which are set forth for tickets purchased on our site.

For your reservation we have confirmed that the following exception policy are available.

Airline’s change fees will be waived

Air Canada
Future Travel Credit amount – USD 105.29
New travel must be completed by 24 months from cancellation ~ April 3, 2022

United Airlines
Future Travel Credit amount – USD 182.56
Travel must commence and ticket must be reissued within 24 months from original ticket date ~ February 16, 2022

The U.S. Department of Transportation restated its policy requiring airlines to provide travelers with a cash refund if their flight has been cancelled or significantly delayed by the airline and the airline hasn’t covered them with an alternate flight. At Chase Travel powered by Expedia Group, we follow the policies of our partners, so any credit, refund or change is determined by the travel provider. We understand that you are dissatisfied with receiving credit with an airline vs a full refund. We’ve worked incredibly hard to work with our partners to provide travelers with as much flexibility as possible during COVID-19. We recognize that airline credit may not be what you were looking for but know that these are extraordinary circumstances that travel partners are trying to work through and Chase Travel powered by Expedia Group must follow the airline policies.

Please be assured that you are a valued customer and we support the decisions you’re making to stay healthy and safe at this time. Should you require additional information, or should you like to take advantage of either option provided above, please contact us at 1-866-406-1217. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sincerely,

Travel Consultant Supervisor
Chase Travel

eli

anyone had success with Barclay’s chargeback for these (bought thru orbitz)? have 5 tkts that were cancelled by AC and they refusing a refund. already attempted a DOT complaint.

Schneur

Dan, AC refuses to refund the ticket I purchased and offered a credit. I would be ok with that except that I bought the ticket for a temp employee and they will only offer a credit in the employees name rendering the credit worthless to me! What do you suggest I do?

@Yehudaa

Air canada now offering refunds for trips originating in the EU, Switzerland and Iceland due to regulations in those places. Maybe DoT regulations can get the US added to that list?

https://www.ctvnews.ca/mobile/business/air-canada-offers-refunds-to-some-passengers-with-cancelled-flights-1.4999772

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