While strikes are (kind of) common in Europe, a WestJet pilots’ strike, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, is looming over Canadian passengers, and we may not be familiar with our rights if it happens. Indeed, they are currently seeking a pilot’s strike approval, and your summer travels could be impacted.
First, you should know that a pilot’s strike is not considered really something ’’out of their control” and customers shouldn’t be paying for a dispute between the company and its employees’ unions. Therefore, you are entitled to more than a refund if your flight is cancelled, but your rights and compensation will vary with your itinerary.
While we are hearing about a WestJet pilot’s strike in the news, the following applies to other carriers in the country as well.
Pilots’ strike - When travelling within Canada
Pilots’ strikes are considered “outside carrier’s control” by the Canadian Transportation Agency for flights originating and ending in Canada. Therefore, you are under the APPR regulations in case of a pilots’ strike would be entitled to:
- Rebooking you for free on another flight, even if it’s a competitor.
- A full refund of any unused portion of the flight, in the original form of payment, if you decide not to travel anymore.
Pilots’ strike - When travelling internationally from Canada
The Montreal Convention will come into play when your itinerary includes at least one international segment. If a pilots’ strike affects you, you could expect reimbursement on:
- Your meals, accommodation, ground transportation, etc.
- The cost of another flight if the airline cannot transport you to your destination in a respectable window.
- Any loss resulting from the flight cancellation and/or delay, such as lost wages if you are scheduled to work the following day, lost accommodation, lost cruise, lost excursions, etc.
Pilots’ strike - When departing the European Union
If you booked a flight departing from an airport in the European Union to Canada and the company cancels it because of a pilots’ strike, the airline would need comply with all the following according to the EU261/2004 law since it is considered under the airline’s control:
- Offer a new flight to your destination or return to your point of origin.
- Offer a cash compensation of €400 if the disruption delayed you by less than 4 hours and €600 if it’s more.
- Offer a full refund if you decide to return to your point of origin.
- Offer meals, accommodation, ground transportation, etc.
Pilots’ strike - Travel insurance & coverage
While the Montreal Convention and the EU 261 laws cover basic expenses such as meals and accommodation for itineraries within Canada, you may be somewhat out of luck since a pilots’ strike is not under the airline’s control with the CTA. You’ll have to turn to your travel insurance; read your certificate carefully, and you’ll be able to find passages such as this one from the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite* Card:
Delay due to an unforeseen strike or other job action by employees of a Common Carrier, which means any labour disagreement that delays the scheduled arrival or departure of a Common Carrier.
Even if laws protect your flights, it doesn’t hurt to have an extra backup in terms of insurance, especially since great ones are offered to some credit card holders, you know, just in case. It’s important to remember that airline compensation is not the same as insurance.
While a pilots’ strike can affect your trip, many other things can too, and the regulations won’t always cover said things. For example, you may be subject to a broken leg a week before your long-awaited trip to Patagonia, or your son’s appendicitis may burst the day before going on your all-inclusive vacation.
Since it’s safe to assume that most people book their trips with a credit card nowadays, you should make sure to use the right one. We often see questions about the card that will give the best return for travel purchases in our community, but insurance is not to be neglected.
If you want to make the most of it, you can subscribe for a new credit card with excellent insurance and unlock a fantastic bonus with your trip’s expenses! The following cards have generous bonuses and offer excellent travel insurance:
Employees of every sector have the right to demand more pay and better work conditions, so a pilots’ strike is not surprising. As we saw last summer, the travel landscape has changed: there is a staff shortage everywhere, and the demand is constantly increasing, resulting in more work and stress for those who still stand. Flight attendants and baggage handlers could also go on strike; who knows?
With laws and the proper travel insurance, you might be able to, at least, be compensated for your troubles if you run into a pilots’ strike in the coming months.
Finally, if you want to rely on your credit card’s insurance, make sure it’s open and active for your trip and the duration of your claim process!