assurance vol retard bankrupt recours faillite

Primera Air in bankruptcy: your recourse

This post is also available in: FR

The low-cost airline, Primera Air, announced that it was bankrupt and ceased all operations. What recourse do you have?

Primera air ceases operations

We told you a few months ago that Primera air would launch a flight between Paris and Montreal soon. Now, the ultra-low-cost airline has just announced that it will cease all operations as of October 2, 2018.

bankruptcy primera air

Did you book a ticket on this airline? What recourse do you have?

The Quebec Consumer Protection Act

In a previous bankruptcy, Charles Tanguay – spokesman for the Office de la protection du consommateur – told La Presse:

The Quebec Consumer Protection Act provides that, in the case of distance commerce, the customer is entitled to a chargeback if he or she has paid by credit card for goods or services not rendered

Several conditions must be met for this law to apply:

  • Payment must have been made with a credit card
  • From a computer located in Quebec

What are the steps – laborious – to obtain reimbursement?

You have made your reservation via an online agency?

If your reservation was made on a site like Expedia, you are automatically covered by the Travel Agents’ Customer Compensation Fund.

compensation fund quebec

You will have to contact the agency directly to obtain a refund.

Did you make your reservation directly on the Primera Air website?

Try to contact Primera Air about your reservation for a refund: phone, email, social networks …. By law, Primera Air has 15 days to issue a refund.

Honestly, we don’t think you’re going to get much of a hit from this one… considering what the company says in their release:

Kindly understand that the usual options for contacts (via email or phone) can not be offered any longer.

However, Primera Air explains that updates on this failure will be posted on the website in the coming days.

Call your credit card issuer

Within 60 days, you must call your credit card issuer to explain the situation: you will not get the service (airline ticket) that you purchased on such and such a date on your credit card.

amex visa mastercard

The issuer is obligated to issue a refund to your credit card. If the issuer explains to you that the bankruptcy of an airline is not provided for in the insurance contract, remind him that your purchase was made from Quebec and that the Quebec consumer protection law applies.

Jean-Pascal, a member of our facebook group, told us that he received a refund for his ticket after calling his credit card issuer (TD Bank) immediately.

Our feeling about Primera Air… and ultra-low cost airlines in general

The airlines are constantly making price offers on the transatlantic market. To do this, they gradually remove services to “virtually” lower rates and appear first in search engines like Skyscanner.

Thus, the ticket price is certainly low and very attractive, but many fees are added afterwards:

  • checked baggage fees
  • Carry-on baggage fees
  • meal expenses on board
  • seat selection costs
  • ….

We even wonder when the cost of having or not having a life jacket will arrive if a catastrophic situation should happen!

Unlike other sites that offer “discount flights” and rejoice in this situation by explaining that yes… it is very easy to travel with only a backpack, we are not at all of the same opinion – especially when traveling with children!

infiniti qx60 luggage
Our Infiniti QX60 rental car, with a full trunk

For us, a transatlantic air ticket should include minimum services and the race to “all optional services” can only be detrimental to the consumer.

In the end, in many cases, you will pay as much for your plane ticket to go from Montreal to Paris via Iceland on WOW Air as if you were flying directly to Paris on the same route with Air France.

comparative wow af

Once you add only a hold baggage (no cabin baggage, no food…) your fare becomes identical to the one offered by Air France:

wow luggage comparison

Compare with Air France, which at $692 does not offer checked baggage. But for an extra sixty dollars, you get:

  • 1 piece of luggage in the hold
  • 1 cabin baggage
  • 1 hand luggage
  • Dinner
  • Breakfast
  • …. and a direct flight

comparative af

What is unfortunate is to see that traditional airlines like Air Canada, or leisure airlines like Air Transat, are starting to follow this path… in order to appear at the top of the search engine results! For example, Air Transat will charge between $55 and $70 per checked bag for flights between Canada and Europe!

air transat luggage

And the other Ultra low-cost companies?

Primera Air is the first of the ultra-low cost airlines to go bankrupt. However, the financial situation of other companies of this type is not good either:

And the American specialist in the field, Gary Leff, adds about WOW Air and Norwegian:

The transatlantic low cost carrier market needs a shakeout. There’s likely a business model there but too many flights on too many airlines from too many cities. Norwegian has struggled and there has been talk of British Airways parent IAG taking it over, if only to reduce competition and downward pressure on yields.

Last year Wow Air launched new service to every second tier city in the middle of America but Airline Weekly points out that they have suspended Cincinnati service for winter and haven’t scheduled service for later in 2019 despite other destinations being bookable.

As Poly advises in the facebook group, if possible choose long-established airlines like Ryanair, Easyjet, Air Asia.

And of course we recommend that you do your homework and compare prices… once all the additional services you want have been added to your “shopping cart”! And of course, book your tickets with a credit card that offers excellent insurance.

Think about the people who booked accommodations on Airbnb in Paris, or hotels by having prepaid their reservation and who must now find a plane ticket… at “high cost” not to lose their entire trip!

Be aware that if you have used hotel points like Marriott for your Paris accommodation, you can usually cancel without charge up to 48 hours before arrival. If you have booked your hotel with money, it is also possible that it has an advantageous cancellation clause (1 week before for example: read the fine print of your reservation!)

Bottom Line

We hope that few of you have booked on this airline. If you have done so, you should know that recourse exists and do not hesitate to activate it!

This post is also available in: FR

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!
Jean-Maximilien is an expert in Canada and France about Loyalty programs, Credit cards and Travel. He is the Founding President of Milesopedia.

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