Airlines should be required to refund customers for flights that were cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. That is the message sent Monday to federal Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau from North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney.
Blaney has been hearing from many local residents who had their travel plans cancelled, and have been left frustrated and out of pocket, in some cases thousands of dollars.
Susan Armstrong, a retiree from Campbell River, had booked a trip to Europe with Air Canada. She has been offered a credit good for two years, but has no intention of travelling within that time period.
“I documented calls, wait times, and auto disconnections then I tried email,” said Armstrong. “The latest was Air Canada saying that I could cancel my credit and put it through my credit card insurance, and perhaps they would refund it but that I should call my credit card company first as they may not.”
Diana and Terry Fright of Comox had planned a bucket-list trip to Haida Gwaii in June. They were offered a cash refund of less than a quarter of their flight costs, or a travel voucher that would expire prior to next year’s tour guide season. As seniors with health concerns, there is no guarantee that they will be able to reschedule their trip, and would like to have their money back to help address immediate costs and alternate plans this summer.
In a letter to the minister, Blaney noted the challenges faced by the airline industry and the important role it plays in bringing visitors to our region, but stated however that “it is completely unfair that individuals who happened to purchase travel tickets before the pandemic should shoulder the burden of financially supporting the airlines.
“If the airlines need additional support, the federal government is the only body with the capacity and resources to provide that. This government needs to mandate that airlines refund all unused tickets to their customers and fill the gaps as needed.”