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WestJet, Air Canada passengers baffled after travel partners compensated $1,000, but they got zilch

Frederik van der Veen was assured he’d be compensated for his cancelled WestJet flight, which brought on a 12-hour delay when flying dwelling to Montreal from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in July.

After all, his spouse and travel associate, Irma De La Luz Perez, had already utilized for and obtained $1,000 compensation for a similar flight. But, a lot to his shock, WestJet rejected van der Veen’s declare, stating the flight disruption was “resulting from an operational subject” exterior the airline’s management.

“[I’m] dissatisfied and type of bewildered,” he stated. “Why would they pay one and never the opposite if we’re on the identical flight?”

CBC News interviewed three WestJet and two Air Canada passengers who, when they utilized for compensation, had been flatly denied — although their travel associate obtained $1,000 for a similar flight disruption. 

“The guidelines aren’t working,” stated Air Canada passenger Dave Marrone.

Following a flight cancellation in August, Marrone’s spouse and travel associate, Kielyn, got $1,000 compensation for what resulted in a 19-hour delay of their return journey from London to Sudbury, Ont.

But Air Canada rejected Marrone’s declare for a similar flight, telling him the cancellation was both exterior the airline’s management or safety-related. 

“It does look like it is an actual seize bag of form of the way it’s utilized, the way it works and who will get compensated,” stated Marrone, who lives simply exterior Espanola, Ont. 

Kielyn and Dave Marrone had been delayed by 19 hours when flying dwelling from a visit to the U.Okay. in August. When they utilized to Air Canada for compensation, solely Kielyn obtained $1,000. (Dave Marrone)

Under federal guidelines, airways solely need to pay compensation — as much as $1,000 — if a flight delay or cancellation is inside an airline’s management and never required for security causes. 

Following this spring and summer season’s travel chaos which sparked quite a few flight delays and cancellations, many passengers complained to CBC News that they had been unjustly denied compensation. Since April, greater than 19,000 air passengers have filed complaints with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) associated to flight disruptions, based on the company.

The flood of complaints prompted Transport Minister Omar Alghabra to repeatedly warn carriers to play by the foundations.

“Airlines should respect travellers’ rights and compensate travellers who’re eligible,” he stated throughout a transport committee listening to in August. 

Airlines reply

Both Air Canada and WestJet have repeatedly advised CBC News they do abide by the air passenger laws. 

About two hours after CBC News inquired about Marrone’s case, Air Canada knowledgeable him it had re-evaluated his declare and that he would obtain $1,000 compensation.

In one other case, Air Canada compensated passenger Bob Hays final week — 4 months after he complained about being denied compensation although his fiance got $1,000 for a similar 24-hour flight delay in June. 

“It was irritating,” stated Hays, who lives in Prince Rupert, B.C. “It’s virtually comical, but it is not comical that two folks could be on the identical flight and get totally different choices.” 

In an e mail, Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick blamed each mismatches on “a processing error.”

WATCH | Airlines launch authorized battle over buyer compensation choices: 

Air Canada, WestJet combating buyer compensation choices

Both WestJet and Air Canada launch authorized battles to enchantment latest choices ordering them to compensate passengers. Experts say if the airways are profitable, it might impression different claims.

WestJet stated it had erred within the instances of all three passengers CBC News interviewed, but that in two instances, together with van der Veen’s, the airline had paid out $1,000 to the passengers’ travel partners by mistake.

“We apologize for the confusion and perceive the frustration any discrepancies could have brought on,” stated spokesperson Madison Kruger in an e mail. 

That means van der Veen will not be getting any money. However, he nonetheless believes he is owed compensation, as a result of WestJet by no means offered particulars concerning the “operational subject” past its management that brought on his flight cancellation.

“What are they speaking about?” stated van der Veen. “It’s a little bit of a gong present.”

Paul Stephenson and Lisa head had been each delayed 18 hours when flying dwelling from London. When they utilized to Air Canada for compensation, solely Head obtained $1,000. (Paul Stephenson)

Following CBC News’ inquiry this week, one WestJet passenger did get $1,000 compensation: Paul Stephenson of Salt Spring Island, B.C. Previously, solely his travel associate, Lisa Head, was compensated for the 19-hour delay they endured when flying from London to Victoria in January.

In March, WestJet advised Stephenson he did not qualify for compensation as a result of his flight disruption had been impacted by climate. Then in April, after he identified that his associate got compensation for a similar flight, WestJet rejected Stephenson’s declare once more and stated the case was closed. 

“It’s fairly poor customer support,” he stated. “The Canadian Transportation Agency wants to come back down so much tougher on airways and implement the laws relating to compensation.”

WestJet hit with fines

In September, the CTA — Canada’s transport regulator — doled out its first fines to an airline for violating the compensation laws. The recipient, WestJet, was fined for 55 violations in January for failing to offer compensation or an reason why compensation was denied inside 30 days of a passengers’ declare. 

The 55 fines ($200 every) totalled $11,000. Former Air Canada govt John Gradek argues that is not sufficient of a deterrent for a serious airline. 

“It’s actually only a token slap on the wrist to principally say, ‘You naughty boys — or ladies,'” stated Gradek, a lecturer and program co-ordinator for the aviation administration program at McGill University.

He stated the CTA ought to look to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which this week introduced it’s assessing greater than $7.25 million US in penalties in opposition to six airways for “excessive delays” in offering flight refunds.

“You’ve got to get the airways’ consideration,” stated Gradek. “The U.S. Department of Transportation now could be saying, ‘OK, we’re enjoying hardball.'”

WestJet didn’t touch upon the fines.

The CTA stated that if the airline commits the identical violation once more throughout the subsequent 4 years, it can face steeper penalties. The company added that, in the case of shopper safety, its principal focus is resolving passenger complaints to assist them get what they’re entitled to. 

Van der Veen has filed a criticism with the CTA and is hoping he’ll lastly get the compensation he feels he is owed. 

According to the brand new air passenger laws, the quantity of compensation for a flight disruption will likely be primarily based on the period of time {that a} traveller is delayed earlier than reaching their last vacation spot. (CBC)
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