Passengers and advocates say Air Canada is turning the tables on refunds, compensation and the reasons cited for flight delays and cancellations, including a bad weather case cited two weeks before it happened.
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The country’s largest airline told some passengers that their flight to Lisbon would be delayed due to “bad weather” 12 days before they were scheduled to leave Montreal on July 17.
Another traveler recently received a $60 eCoupon due to a baggage delay of days instead of the direct reimbursement she is entitled to under federal regulations and Air Canada’s passenger contract of carriage.
“It would be great if I could get that money back instead of a coupon. Especially since I’m still without my bag and dealing with interim expenses,” said Air Canada Rouge passenger Leanna Durdle.
On Tuesday, the airline canceled a flight from Nashville to Toronto citing a “technical issue.” But data from the Flightradar24 tracking service shows that the same plane that was scheduled to fly to Nashville for the trip took off for Boston an hour after the original departure time, despite the aforementioned mechanical problem.
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Liam Walshe, a paralegal who advocates for consumer protection, called the reasons cited “questionable” and “suspicious.” Mechanical failures do not qualify as being within the carrier’s control and therefore exempt it from having to compensate customers, he noted.
“I was quite surprised with what I was seeing,” he said.
“How would you say it’s for maintenance and then an hour later the plane flies to Boston? Why not delay the Nashville flight a bit?
Taken together, Walshe said, the myriad instances of “technical” or “maintenance” problems coupled with travel coupons instead of reimbursement create the appearance of trying to avoid “having to pay.”
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“People have been filing claims and they’ve been denied,” he said. “You will see all kinds of people saying that there are inconsistent reasons.”
Air Canada said in an email that the explanation for the weather on the Lisbon flight was “an incorrect notification” that has since been revised.
“Air Canada fully appreciates the disappointment and inconvenience that schedule changes cause to customers, and does everything possible to mitigate these unfortunate situations,” the airline said in a statement.
It notes that travelers can request a refund in the original form of payment and says it will pay additional compensation when it is “overdue” under the passenger bill of rights.
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