A veteran Toronto travel agent is applauding the federal government’s new guidelines on flights within or originating in this country that were cancelled or delayed for over three hours for reasons beyond the airlines’ control.
Airlines must now offer those who experienced waits of three hours or longer reservations on a flight within 48 hours of the original departure time on the passenger’s original ticket.
If they’re unable to do that they must offer a refund within 30 days or alternative free travel.
Failing to comply can result in $25,000 penalties.
The changed Air Passenger Protection Regulations went into effect Sept. 8 and followed widespread complaints after airlines often refused to provide refunds for cancelled flights during the pandemic.
“This is long overdue,” said Ethel Hansen Davey of Toronto’s Uniglobe Enterprise Travel. “The passenger purchases the ticket in good faith, believing that the service purchased will be provided. The airlines have had ample time to get their ducks in a row to, either shuffle schedules or hire and train staff. To hear that passengers are paying so much out of pocket money to either get to their destination by other means, or to cover hotels and meals because of delays, is not acceptable. Passengers are missing family events, having to cut vacations short, etc., adding additional cost to them.
“I don’t think that the airlines understand that when someone books vacation time from work, they are expected to leave and return on the dates that they have scheduled off. In many places of employment, this has to be requested months in advance. To expect people to lose extra days from work or to expect that person’s employer to arrange coverage for that person’s job for the extra days off is another cost to passengers and to employers. The long-reaching ramifications of delays and cancellations must be acknowledged by the airlines.
However, Monica Millin of La Dolce Vita Travel in Port Moody, B.C., has numerous questions about last week’s development.
“There has been so much focus in the media about this, especially from consumer advocates that I wonder how travellers will react to this,” she says. “I also wonder exactly how airlines will handle this.
“I’m also curious if an airline can rebook within 48 hours, does the airline pay for hotel, food, etc. during that 48-hour time period, or is that left to the passenger?
“I have too many questions myself in regards to this!”
Pat Probert of TravelOnly agency Bob Family Travel in Toronto agrees upgraded compensation guidelines were long overdue for passengers but adds there had to be a “balancing act and fairness to both the airline industry and the paying public.”
Probert says he often “feels like the middle person between his clients and his partner airlines, so having a balance is important to both.”
He agrees his clients deserve to be offered compensation for delayed flights of over three hours, adding his agency registers “all of their clients who book their Manulife Insurance, so they receive from $30 to $140 maximum per trip automatically sent to them when a flight is delayed three to six hours with no hassles.”
Probert’s colleague Mary de Almeida adds there are “too many horror stories, with people sleeping in airports, not receiving proper allowance for food when delays happen or even when a hotel is needed when clients cannot fly until the next day. The airlines need to treat our mutual clients with the same level of service we offer every client, so it is a win-win situation for all. Travel is back in a big way, and everyone needs to gear up for it, the paying passengers are ready to travel the world.”
Meanwhile, Hansen Davey cautions people to not “even consider” travelling without travel insurance, warning disruptions that are unrelated to air travel can occur.