More Complaints Air Canada and WestJet Wrongfully Deny Compensation to Passengers | CBC News

Spread the love

Lesley Lowe believes that Air Canada is not following the rules.

Last month, the airline canceled its return flight to Toronto from New Orleans, five hours before it was due to leave. His booked flight didn’t leave until the next day.

After his trip, Lowe requested compensation for the delay and the US$394 he spent on a hotel plus additional expenses.

Air Canada responded that Lowe did not qualify for cash. Instead, the airline sent him an email, seen by CBC News, that outlined the challenges the company is facing due to a recent surge in travel, including long lines, problems with baggage processing and flight delays.

But the email left out an important detail: why Lowe’s flight cancellation did not warrant compensation.

“I don’t think they have a valid reason,” said Lowe, who lives in Whitby, Ontario. “I think if they were really honest and transparent about what happened … they know they would be responsible and would have to compensate the passengers on the flight.”

Lesley Lowe of Whitby, Ontario, says Air Canada never provided an explanation for why it denied her compensation for a canceled flight. Under Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations, airlines are supposed to provide an explanation when denying passengers compensation for delays and cancellations. (Submitted by Lesley Lowe)

Lowe is one of many air passengers who, during this summer of mass flight delays and cancellations, say their airline wrongfully denied them compensation.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has yet to confirm whether it will take action against non-compliant airlines, despite air passenger rights expert calls that it is time to dictate harsh sanctions.

“These [air passenger regulations] they’re not really being enforced properly in a rigorous way,” said Daneil Tsai, a Toronto-based consumer advocate and business lawyer.

under federal rules, airlines only have to pay compensation, up to $1,000, if a flight delay or cancellation is under the control of the airline and not necessary for safety reasons. Carriers must also cover accommodation costs for flight interruptions under their control.

WestJet and Air Canada first drew the ire of customers after they continued to deny compensation for some flight disruptions caused by crew shortages — despite a recent CTA clarification that staffing shortages are usually within an airline’s control and warrant compensation.

Now, some passengers are speaking out about another concern: the airlines are not providing an adequate explanation as to why they were denied compensation.

According to the CTA, airlines must explain in “sufficient detail” the reasons for the interruption of a flight, including why it does not justify compensation.

But Lowe said Air Canada never provided an explanation, even when she responded and demanded one.

“They just closed my case,” he said. They “do not respect me as a customer to even respond to my query.”

A ‘nebula’ explanation

Shakheel Bhatti of Mississauga, Ontario, is still waiting for a clear reason why WestJet denied her compensation for a three-hour delay when she was flying from Vancouver to Toronto in June.

In an email seen by CBC News, WestJet’s only explanation was that the outage “was due to a delay after departure that was beyond WestJet’s control.” But according to flight tracking service FlightAware, the delay occurred before departure.

“The facts don’t line up with what WestJet says,” Bhatti said.

On top of that, WestJet never explained why the delay was out of their control.

“You can’t really challenge something that’s so confusing,” Bhatti said. “I think it’s just obstructive for someone to give you that kind of vague, confusing, nondescript answer.”

SEE | Travelers say they were unfairly denied compensation:

Travelers say they are unfairly denied compensation for Air Canada flight cancellations

Some travelers say they are being denied compensation for canceled Air Canada flights, as the airline claims the flight disruptions were due to “crew limitations” and are beyond its control.

Both WestJet and Air Canada declined to comment on individual cases. Each of them told CBC News they follow federal air passenger regulations, noting that a 2020 CTA investigation found no evidence that airlines had deliberately misled passengers by denying compensation claims.

“A complaint does not mean an airline has done wrong, it is simply a disagreement over the interpretation of these very complex and situation-dependent regulations,” an Air Canada spokesperson said in an email. “That’s why the CTA has a complaint process.”

Passengers who feel they were wrongfully denied compensation can file a complaint with the CTA to help solve your problem.

The federal transportation regulator is currently dealing with a backlog of 18,200 air passenger complaints thanks to a recent surge: In the four months between April and July, the CTA said it received 7,500 new complaints, a significant increase from last year.

Higher fines?

Transport Canada spokeswoman Laurel Lennox said in an email that the department has given the CTA an additional $11 million to help it clear its backlog of complaints and “make sure airlines operate within the rules.” “.

That cash injection was first announced in the April 2022 federal budget, and Lennox provided no indication of any new implementation plans.

To date, the CTA has not issued fines to airlines for improperly denying compensation. In an interview last week, the agency suggested penalties, including fines, could apply.

“In fact, we’re looking at all of the enforcement options … that are available to us,” said Tom Oommen, a CTA spokesman. He declined to give more details.

While consumer advocate Daniel Tsai supports issuing fines, he said they may not be much of a deterrent, because the current maximum penalty per violation is $25,000.

“If anything, it’s just the cost of doing business for a multibillion-dollar airline.”

Tsai recommends that the CTA dole out fines of at least $250,000 per violation, in addition to millions of dollars in penalties for repeat offenders.

“That will really make airlines think before they try to pass their responsibilities onto consumers,” he said.

In its 2020-21 annual report, the CTA also recommended increasing the maximum fine to $250,000 for corporations, stating that the current cap “is out of date as it was established in 1996.”

#Complaints #Air #Canada #WestJet #Wrongfully #Deny #Compensation #Passengers #CBC #News

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.