Due to their decision to issue vouchers and travel credits instead of refunds for canceled flights due to coronavirus, a woman has launched a class-action lawsuit against several Canadian airlines.
Janet Donaldson, a resident of British Columbia, has filed suit against Air Canada, Air Transat, Sunwing, Swoop and WestJet. According to the CBC, her round trip Vancouver-to-New York flight on WestJet this April was canceled and she was “disappointed” that she couldn’t receive a refund.
The claim states, “This is a consumer-protection class action seeking to enforce each passenger’s rights to a refund for monies paid for their air tickets, when they are not able to travel for reasons outside of the control of the passengers.”
The suit also suggested that the monies used for a flight might be needed by travelers during these financially challenging times.
The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) had announced last week that airlines no longer have to refund passengers if they cancel flights, instead saying:
…While any specific situation brought before the CTA will be examined on its merits, the CTA believes that, generally speaking, an appropriate approach in the current context could be for airlines to provide affected passengers with vouchers or credits for future travel, as long as these vouchers or credits do not expire in an unreasonably short period of time (24 months would be considered reasonable in most cases).
Donaldson’s class-action suit was launched after the CTA’s March 25th announcement.
With little to no commercial passengers, the airlines in question, like all airlines around the world, have drastically curtailed their schedules and laid off staff.
Air Transat would not comment on the lawsuit but did issue a statement on March 30th, defending the industry’s decision:
“[These] are extraordinary circumstances, when all airlines and travel companies have been forced to temporarily halt or reduce drastically their operations when government have decided to close their borders. We do support these decisions in the name of public health and the protection of populations, but these, and the situation itself, has placed an extraordinary burden on the industry, which puts its very existence into question.
“In such a force majeure situation [ETA: a force majeure is a “chance occurrence” or “unavoidable accident.” It’s a common clause in contracts that frees both parties from liability or obligation], way beyond our span of control, we do not have to issue a full refund for travels that have not been completed. By issuing a 24-month credit voucher, we believe that we are offering an acceptable solution. We are confident that our clients will be able to travel again in a not-too-remote future, once the crisis is over.”
Other airlines named in the suit have not offered statements at this time.
Any thoughts on how long it will take for a similar lawsuit to come forth in the U.S.? 😉
#stayhealthy #stayathome #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary