Air Canada passengers, here’s how to get your refund for cancelled flights

After more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Air Canada passengers hoping for a refund on cancelled flights can finally breathe easy.The government’s bailout package for the airline, announced Monday, includes a $1.4-billion loan earmarked for refunds, and the company has revealed some details. Refunds are available for all booked flights cancelled — by the airline or the traveller — since Feb. 1, 2020, if purchased before Tuesday.“The revised COVID-19 refund policy covers tickets and Air Canada Vacations packages purchased before April 13, 2021 for flights cancelled either by the airline or by the customer for any reason,” reads Air Canada’s news release regarding the refund policy.Requests for a refund can be submitted online until June 12, unless the ticket was bought through a travel agent, in which case the passenger must go through the travel agent. Air Canada’s news release notes that its refund will exclude whatever customers paid travel agencies in sales commissions.If the travel agency used has since folded, the airline’s online Frequently Asked Questions direct passengers to call Air Canada Reservations, where airline staff will verify that the agency is permanently closed before starting the refund request.According to the FAQ, refunds may take up to three months. Gabor Lukacs, head of the Air Passenger Rights organization, isn’t exactly jumping for joy, though he’s been calling for refunds ever since the issue arose.Throughout the pandemic he’s recommended passengers seek a refund through their credit card, and he stands by that now. Otherwise, his advice is to “fill out the forms and hope for the best.”He also thinks that customers shouldn’t have to fill out online forms or contact Air Canada Reservations — the airline has all the information it needs to give out the refunds on its own.“There are many people I anticipate that are going to fall through the cracks,” said Lukacs. “Why do passengers have to go through all these hoops to get what is already theirs?”For all future travel, Air Canada has revised its booking policies, said executive vice-president and chief commercial officer Lucie Guillemette in the news release. For flights cancelled or rescheduled by more than three hours, the airline will offer a choice between a refund, a travel voucher or the value of the ticket in Aeroplan Points with a 65-per-cent bonus, according to the release.If a customer makes a voluntary change, normal rules will apply, the release adds, but Air Canada is extending its policy of letting customers make a one-time change with no fee for all new or existing bookings made through May 31, 2021 for original travel until May 31, 2022.Marty Firestone, president of Toronto-based travel insurance company Travel Secure Inc., said it’s important to note that if you already accepted Aeroplan points or a voucher for your cancelled flight, the refund will replace those.“This is important because there was such anger amongst clients who received this voucher which was useless to them,” he said. The online portal asks passengers for their voucher number or Aeroplan number, as well as their original flight date and booking reference number. Online portals can be frustrating, noted Firestone, especially if everyone floods them at once. He advises waiting a day or two, as it won’t make a difference to your refund, and above all, being persistent and diligent in tracking the process until the money is back in your account.With files from Jacob LorincRosa Saba is a Toronto-based business reporter for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @rosajsaba

Air Canada passengers, here’s how to get your refund for cancelled flights

After more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Air Canada passengers hoping for a refund on cancelled flights can finally breathe easy.

The government’s bailout package for the airline, announced Monday, includes a $1.4-billion loan earmarked for refunds, and the company has revealed some details. Refunds are available for all booked flights cancelled — by the airline or the traveller — since Feb. 1, 2020, if purchased before Tuesday.

“The revised COVID-19 refund policy covers tickets and Air Canada Vacations packages purchased before April 13, 2021 for flights cancelled either by the airline or by the customer for any reason,” reads Air Canada’s news release regarding the refund policy.

Requests for a refund can be submitted online until June 12, unless the ticket was bought through a travel agent, in which case the passenger must go through the travel agent. Air Canada’s news release notes that its refund will exclude whatever customers paid travel agencies in sales commissions.

If the travel agency used has since folded, the airline’s online Frequently Asked Questions direct passengers to call Air Canada Reservations, where airline staff will verify that the agency is permanently closed before starting the refund request.

According to the FAQ, refunds may take up to three months.

Gabor Lukacs, head of the Air Passenger Rights organization, isn’t exactly jumping for joy, though he’s been calling for refunds ever since the issue arose.

Throughout the pandemic he’s recommended passengers seek a refund through their credit card, and he stands by that now. Otherwise, his advice is to “fill out the forms and hope for the best.”

He also thinks that customers shouldn’t have to fill out online forms or contact Air Canada Reservations — the airline has all the information it needs to give out the refunds on its own.

“There are many people I anticipate that are going to fall through the cracks,” said Lukacs. “Why do passengers have to go through all these hoops to get what is already theirs?”

For all future travel, Air Canada has revised its booking policies, said executive vice-president and chief commercial officer Lucie Guillemette in the news release. For flights cancelled or rescheduled by more than three hours, the airline will offer a choice between a refund, a travel voucher or the value of the ticket in Aeroplan Points with a 65-per-cent bonus, according to the release.

If a customer makes a voluntary change, normal rules will apply, the release adds, but Air Canada is extending its policy of letting customers make a one-time change with no fee for all new or existing bookings made through May 31, 2021 for original travel until May 31, 2022.

Marty Firestone, president of Toronto-based travel insurance company Travel Secure Inc., said it’s important to note that if you already accepted Aeroplan points or a voucher for your cancelled flight, the refund will replace those.

“This is important because there was such anger amongst clients who received this voucher which was useless to them,” he said.

The online portal asks passengers for their voucher number or Aeroplan number, as well as their original flight date and booking reference number.

Online portals can be frustrating, noted Firestone, especially if everyone floods them at once. He advises waiting a day or two, as it won’t make a difference to your refund, and above all, being persistent and diligent in tracking the process until the money is back in your account.

With files from Jacob Lorinc

Rosa Saba is a Toronto-based business reporter for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @rosajsaba

Source : Toronto Star More