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Repayment or credit?
With COVID-19, the situation is changing rapidly on the airline side.
Initially, they offered reimbursement with particularly generous rules. But little by little, faced with the extent of the situation, the airlines have changed their terms and conditions and offer, for the most part, a credit to be used for a future plane ticket.
This is the case forAir Canada, for example.
We had written an article introducing you to the legal rules that would allow you to get a refund instead of a credit.
Then we presented you the different ways chosen by the airlines (some of them offering a “refundable credit“).
Now, the Canadian Transportation Agency has issued a message regarding the credits to reveal its position on the subject.
Credits: approved by the CTA
The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) supports the airlines’ position of offering vouchers or credits for future flights instead of refunding tickets.
First, the CTA recalls the exceptional nature of the extraordinary situation the world is facing today:
The various legislative, regulatory and tariff provisions were written for relatively localized short-term disruptions. None have been considered for the types of massive worldwide flight cancellations that have occurred in recent weeks as a result of the pandemic. It is important to consider how we will need to strike a balance that is fair and rational between measures to protect passengers and the operational realities of airlines in these extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances.Office des Transports du Canada - 25 mars 2020
But on the other hand, their customers are also facing economic difficulties. This is a real vicious circle that the CTA recognizes:
On the one hand, passengers who are unable to complete their planned itinerary with the assistance of an airline should not have to incur expenses for cancelled flights. On the other hand, airlines that are seeing their passenger volumes and revenues decline dramatically cannot be expected to take actions that would threaten their economic viability.Office des Transports du Canada - 25 mars 2020
Thus, the CTA approves as a suitable solution the credits offered by the airlines in lieu of refunds, but under certain conditions:
The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) will consider the merits of each specific situation presented to it, but generally believes that a solution that would appropriate in the current context would be for airlines to provide affected passengers with vouchers or credits for future flights that will not expire in an unreasonably short period of time (24 months would be considered reasonable in most cases).Office des Transports du Canada - 25 mars 2020
It is therefore likely that the airlines will soon align their policies following this message from the CTA, especially on the validity of the credits, extended to 24 months (while some only offer credits valid until the end of 2020).
We would have liked the CTA to take a more customer-friendly position by allowing, for example, the refundable credit note proposed by certain airlines such as Air France or United:
If your flight has been canceled, you can complete this form to obtain a refund in the form of a credit note valid for one year on all Air France, KLM, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic flights. This credit is refundable after one year if it is not used.Air France
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Note that this is an opinion of the CTA and not a legally binding regulation.
In Quebec, the Office de la Protection du Consommateur (OPC) considers that travel credit can be an option, as long as it does not come with restrictive conditions:
The Agency recommends that you check the terms and conditions of a travel credit before accepting it. Make sure you can use it for a reasonable period of time, such as 24 months, and that there is no penalty for accepting it. Also, confirm if you can use it only for yourself or if it is to be used for another person, for example a family member.
Office of Consumer Protection
The TPO also reminds you of the option to request a chargeback from your credit card issuer:
In the case of a purchase made on the Web or by telephone, for example without the intermediary of a travel agent, the consumer can benefit from specific provisions of the law, which provide, in particular, in the case of refusal to refund a contract duly cancelled, the possibility of demanding a chargeback by the issuer of the credit card with which the purchase was made. The card issuer will then have to recall the payment to refund the consumer.
Office of Consumer Protection
In this situation, in order to obtain redress, we suggest that you contact, in order, the following
- The airline, wholesaler or travel agency with whom you have done business
- The Office of Consumer Protection
- Your private insurer
- Your group insurance
- The issuer of your credit card on which you purchased your trip
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