Last week I wrote about the showdown between Air Canada and the US DOT.
The post gained traction among Canadians, with a number of Retweets and Likes on Twitter:
Aviation Showdown: Will The DOT Enforce Its Rules Against Air Canada? https://t.co/qORW4MsZgl
— DansDeals (@DansDeals) July 2, 2020
@USDOT please do enforce rules against @AirCanada! I'm Canadian and they are the worst run airline in #Canada. They've been warned multiple times and do not listen. Time to take the bull by the horns, they have it coming!#AirCanada #RefundPassengers #USDOT #airtravel
— Jackie (@mommaditty) July 4, 2020
"… the crooks to our north, also known as Air Canada"@JustinTrudeau @MarcGarneau @AirCanada @airtransat @ToddDohertyMP @ErinOTooleMP #RefundPassengers #airtravel #AirCanada #airtransat https://t.co/k1hkhmdNkI
— Maria Loranger (@Ily426) July 3, 2020
— AIR CANADA STOLE 6,000$ FROM ME (@6Kpoorer) July 3, 2020
Clearly Air Canada’s actions have not been popular in Canada.
The post also got the attention of the CTA, which wrote this to me:
“Good morning, we’d like to clarify a misunderstanding in your blog, published on July 2.
Specifically, “But worse than that, the Canada Transportation Agency ruled that Canadian airlines did not have to refund passengers holding tickets on flights that Air Canada cancelled.”
Please note the CTA never ruled that airlines did not have to refund passengers for a cancellation related to Covid-19.
In its Statement, published March 25th, which was at no time a binding decision, the CTA offers suggestions to airlines and passengers in the context of a once-in-a-century pandemic, global collapse of air travel, and mass cancellation of flights for reasons outside the control of airlines.
For delays or cancellations outside of the airline’s control, the legislation as passed by Parliament does not give the CTA the authority to make regulations that establish a minimum obligation for all airlines to issue refunds. For such flights, the legislation only provides for regulations that require airlines to ensure passengers can complete the passenger’s itinerary (rebook the passenger). Some airlines’ tariffs provide for refunds in certain cases, but may have clauses that airlines believe relieve them of such obligations in force majeure situations.
The Statement doesn’t affect airlines’ obligations or passengers’ rights. If a person believes they are entitled to a refund for a flight that was cancelled for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic and doesn’t want to accept a voucher, they can ask the airline for a refund. If a passenger thinks they are entitled to a refund and the airline refuses to provide one or offers a voucher with conditions the passenger doesn’t want to accept, they can file a complaint with the CTA, which will determine if the airline complied with the terms of its tariff. Each case will be decided on its merits.
Also, for future reference, the name of our organization is the “Canadian Transportation Agency” and not “Canada Transportation Agency”.
Well that was a long-winded way of saying that we aren’t empowered to enforce refunds, but nevertheless we still are giving Canadian airlines cover to not give refunds for cancelled flights by stating that we believe it’s appropriate for airlines to refuse refunds on flights cancelled due to COVID-19.
We won’t stick up for our citizens, but surely you won’t mess up our name again, right?
On a positive note, at least they’re now accepting complaints. Previously they were not accepting them. However it sure doesn’t sound like they will do anything about those complaints.
Remember that if you are refused a refund:
- You can dispute the charge with your credit card. Just note that if you used a personal travel agent you’ll be taking the money out of their pocket rather than the airline’s pocket.
- You can file a complaint with the US DoT if the flight was to/from the US.
- If those options fail, you can take the airline to small claims court.
Hopefully the DOT will hit Air Canada with enforcement action for violating their rules about refunds on cancelled US flights.