Air Canada and WestJet passengers struggle to get compensation

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Air Canada and WestJet passengers struggle to get compensation

Since December 15, 2019, the Canadian Transportation Agency has received more than 5,154 complaints for compensation denials, and 70% of them have not yet been resolved.

The recent chaos at major Canadian airports has led to a series of flight delays and cancellations, and passengers are accusing some airlines of providing suspicious reasons for denying them compensation.

Under federal regulations, airlines must compensate passengers up to $1,000 for flight delays of three hours or more.

However, airlines do not must pay only if the reason for the delay is within their control and not for safety reasons, such as unforeseen mechanical problems.

This is the reason given by d 'Air Canada to Scott Aalgaard, his daughter and wife, who were to fly from Toronto to Hartford, Connecticut.

On the morning of July 5, their flight was delayed for six hours due to an unforeseen maintenance issue. During the afternoon, the reason for the delay changed to personnel constraints, then to health and safety measures.

Three days later, Air Canada informed Mr. Aalgaard that he was not entitled to compensation because his flight was canceled (not delayed) due to a labor dispute that was beyond the airline's control.

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Scott Aalgaard and his daughter Yuki at the airport. Their flight from Toronto to Hartford, Connecticut was delayed six hours.

The airline's decision leaves the British Columbian perplexed. There was no indication that there was any labor dispute, he said.

“I feel like the company is picking a random reason and hoping it's believable.

— Scott Aalgaard, Traveller

Reasons for denied compensation for flight delays range from flight disruption to COVID-19.

Aalgaard intends to file a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency.

I refuse that Canada is a place where big business can just make up history as it goes, he laments.

In November 2021, at the #x27;Following a lengthy investigation involving all major Canadian airlines, the Canadian Transportation Agency has ruled that there is no evidence that the carriers intentionally misled passengers.

< p class="e-p">However, the federal agency said much of the information provided to passengers to explain their flight delays was inadequate, terse and unclear.

According to the lawyer Tahira Dawood, passengers need this information to assess whether to challenge their case.

“It's hard to complain [against the airlines] if they have limited information or if they don't know what they can expect from the airlines.

— Tahira Dawood, attorney at the Public Interest Advocacy Center

Yet many travelers have experienced situations similar to that of the Aalgaard family.

This is the case of Connie DeMelo and her husband, Antonio, who had their flight from Honolulu to Toronto delayed by almost six hours.

WestJet refused them compensation without giving them the specific reason for the delay.

They don't want to take responsibility, Ms. DeMelo laments.

“If they gave me a reason, I could chase them, but at this point I don't even know what I'm chasing. »

— Connie DeMelo, traveler

Connie DeMelo and her husband Antonio's flight from Honolulu to Toronto was delayed nearly six hours. WestJet denied them compensation.

Another Air Canada passenger, Joshua Cohen, got more explanation of his rights from employees at the Chicago airport when his flight was postponed to the next day.

They assured him that his airline had to pay him a hotel and meals until his departure.

However, when Mr. Cohen submitted his expenses for US$533.73, Air Canada responded by email that he was not eligible for compensation.

The airline said the cancellation of its flight was due to unforeseen staffing issues due to COVID-19, which were beyond the company's control. airline company. Air Canada gave him a $100 voucher for an upcoming flight.

It's a real slap in the face, said Cohen, who argues that staffing issues are up to the airline.

“ They do everything not to compensate their passengers and try to save money. This is simply unacceptable.

—Joshua Cohen, Traveler

WestJet and Air Canada declined to comment on the specific cases discussed above. Both airlines said they are in compliance with Canada's Air Passenger Protection Regulations and are currently operating in a challenging environment as the travel industry recovers.

This week, the Canadian Transportation Agency forced WestJet to pay a passenger $1,000 in compensation after a 21-hour delay, as the airline argued that the lack of manpower labor posed a safety risk.

However, the Agency concluded that crew shortages are generally within the control of the airline and that WestJet has not sufficiently established that cancellation of the flight was unavoidable despite proper planning.

This case law provides a beacon of hope for the Aalgaard family and for Ms. DeMelo and Mr. Cohen, who plan to appeal their denial of compensation.

With the information from CBC's Sophia Harris

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