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Master thread Air Canada Refunds vs credits; Class action lawsuit filed

Old Dec 10, 2020, 7:55 pm
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Last edit by: Adam Smith
As of April 13, 2021 (in conjunction with the federal government bailout), AC is providing refunds for flights cancelled due to COVID, which applies to tickets with travel after February 1, 2020, and purchased before April 13, 2021. This includes flights cancelled by customers rather than AC.

Going forward (i.e. tickets purchased on or after April 13, 2021), cancelled flights will be refunded if AC does not offer a re-booking option with departure +/- 3 hours from the original time.

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Master thread Air Canada Refunds vs credits; Class action lawsuit filed

Old Apr 5, 2020, 6:30 pm
  #91  
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
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Originally Posted by dav662
I have received an email from AC canceling my flight. But they are asking me to get a credit or if I ask for a refund it's a pitiful amount. It's a non refundable ticket but if they cancel it then they should give me the full amount. This is a domestic flight. I am going to write to Transport Authority in Canada.
what was your itinerary?
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Old Apr 6, 2020, 11:05 am
  #92  
 
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Originally Posted by hoipolloi
what was your itinerary?
YQM to YYZ. 20 May.
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Old Apr 6, 2020, 12:59 pm
  #93  
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Hi folks posting here because related to AC flight and AMEX Canada forum dead.

Question: Has anyone successfully used AMEX Plat. Trip Cancellation insurance on AC TB flights canceled due to COVID-19 by opting for ACs "Option 1 (refund minus non-refundable) over "Option 2" (24 month credit)?

Details:
  • Early May PNR YYZ<->USA proactively cancelled by AC last week. Given option to either:
    1) cancel and get $45 back or 2) get $XXXX voucher for travel within 24 months.
  • Called AMEX insurance and they said that if I can prove I did not get a voucher for future travel, the insurance will cover the entire non-refundable portion, however would not confirm in writing
  • Hesitant to refuse the credit and then get insurance claim denied. Curious if anyone has successfully gone down this route.
  • My other thought may be to do a chargeback on grounds of breaking US DOT refund rules, but also don't have any data points on success rate

Last edited by yyz_consulted; Jun 3, 2020 at 9:44 am
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Old Apr 6, 2020, 1:38 pm
  #94  
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Originally Posted by yyz_consulted
Hi folks posting here because related to AC flight and AMEX Canada forum dead.

Question: Has anyone successfully used AMEX Plat. Trip Cancellation insurance on AC TB flights canceled due to COVID-19 by opting for ACs "Option 1 (refund minus non-refundable) over "Option 2" (24 month credit)?

Details:
  • Early May PNR YYZ<->USA proactively cancelled by AC last week. Given option to either:
    1) cancel and get $45 back or 2) get $1100 voucher for travel within 24 months.
  • Called AMEX insurance and they said that if I can prove I did not get a voucher for future travel, the insurance will cover the entire non-refundable portion, however would not confirm in writing
  • Hesitant to refuse the credit and then get insurance claim denied. Curious if anyone has successfully gone down this route.
  • My other thought may be to do a chargeback on grounds of breaking US DOT refund rules, but also don't have any data points on success rate
Since you ticket involves a US point...

If the cancellation was due to airline-cancelling it as opposed to you proactively cancelling the reservation, then reach out to AC and refer to DOT enforcement notice date 3 APR 2020. If that doesn't work, file a US DoT complaint and a chargeback under Services not Received.
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Old Apr 6, 2020, 1:49 pm
  #95  
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Originally Posted by eyeball1
Yes I got this email too. I was under the Impression however that even if AC cancels the flight they will still not refund, only 24 month credit. So I'm not sure how much more leverage we gain by waiting for AC to cancel the flights. I don't recall seeing too much success with that argument on this thread (though of course I do agree a refund is due).
The leveraged gained by waiting for AC to cancel is that voluntary cancellations (i.e. those initiated by the customer, not due to significant schedule change/cancellation) have pretty always generated a travel credit. Involuntary cancellations, i.e. where the airline has cancelled a flight or made a significant schedule change, historically generated a full refund, but AC is now (March 19th onwards) trying not to give them.

If they ever get their wrists slapped by a regulator and told they need to issue refunds for involuntary cancellations, I would rather have a ticket that was cancelled because AC cancelled a flight, not one that I chose to cancel because I thought AC was going to end up cancelling a flight.

Originally Posted by dav662
I have received an email from AC canceling my flight. But they are asking me to get a credit or if I ask for a refund it's a pitiful amount. It's a non refundable ticket but if they cancel it then they should give me the full amount. This is a domestic flight. I am going to write to Transport Authority in Canada.
I would suggest writing to the Canadian Transportation Agency, the Transport Minister (Marc Garneau - his ministerial e-mail, not his parliamentary one), and your MP.

Originally Posted by seawolf
Since you ticket involves a US point...

If the cancellation was due to airline-cancelling it as opposed to you proactively cancelling the reservation, then reach out to AC and refer to DOT enforcement notice date 3 APR 2020. If that doesn't work, file a US DoT complaint and a chargeback under Services not Received.
I was just typing that same thing as you posted this Although is a chargeback needed if a US DOT complaint is filed?
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Old Apr 6, 2020, 2:01 pm
  #96  
 
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Originally Posted by tomvancouver
Please correct me if I'm mistaken, but I thought AC only received the money when the flight was actually flown. I read (somewhere, quite possible on this forum) that the CC company keeps the money until then.
You thought wrong.

Its not uncommon for CC companies, in general, to hold back some funds (above their "discount" that is their payment), but it would be a rolling balance and not tied to any particular transaction. Air Canada might well do enough (and mostly, non-fraudulent) business that that buffer is 0. Who can say?

However, the situation between some ticketing airlines and operating airline and between a TA and an operating airline might well have funds not move until after the flight is taken. But then, the ticketing airline (or TA, if thats a thing) would be holding "your" money, still not the CC company.
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Old Apr 6, 2020, 2:02 pm
  #97  
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Originally Posted by Adam Smith
I was just typing that same thing as you posted this Although is a chargeback needed if a US DOT complaint is filed?
I would say individual preference. Don't know what DoT or AC response time is to a DoT compliant. Filing a chargeback (at least in the US) will "freeze" the disputed amount so that cardmember doesn't have to pay the disputed amount or have that amount be subject to interest accumulation if cardmember is carrying a balance until the dispute process plays out.

Under VISA/MC rules, cardmember has 120 days from date services were expected to be received to file a dispute under services not received. If for some reason the DoT compliant route takes that long to play out, filing a chargeback sooner preserve the chargeback option.
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Old Apr 6, 2020, 2:03 pm
  #98  
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Originally Posted by seawolf
Since you ticket involves a US point...

If the cancellation was due to airline-cancelling it as opposed to you proactively cancelling the reservation, then reach out to AC and refer to DOT enforcement notice date 3 APR 2020. If that doesn't work, file a US DoT complaint and a chargeback under Services not Received.
Called AC today about the enforcement notice, talked to a reservations agent and a concierge and they both said that they have been told the policy is not changing due to the DOT enforcement notice as "Air Canada is a Canadian company." Not sure that logic checks out. So back to weighing chargeback vs insurance options.
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Old Apr 6, 2020, 2:17 pm
  #99  
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Originally Posted by yyz_consulted
Called AC today about the enforcement notice, talked to a reservations agent and a concierge and they both said that they have been told the policy is not changing due to the DOT enforcement notice as "Air Canada is a Canadian company." Not sure that logic checks out. So back to weighing chargeback vs insurance options.
Agent is misinformed. If the itinerary involves a US point, DoT also has a say in this and AC is setting themselves up for possible enforcement action. First paragraph of Enforcement Notice explicitly includes foreign carriers. US airline lobby would never let regulations apply to US carrier only.

Originally Posted by RangerNS
You thought wrong.

Its not uncommon for CC companies, in general, to hold back some funds (above their "discount" that is their payment), but it would be a rolling balance and not tied to any particular transaction. Air Canada might well do enough (and mostly, non-fraudulent) business that that buffer is 0. Who can say?

However, the situation between some ticketing airlines and operating airline and between a TA and an operating airline might well have funds not move until after the flight is taken. But then, the ticketing airline (or TA, if thats a thing) would be holding "your" money, still not the CC company.
I believe the buffer is/was $0 as per page 163 in 2019 AC annual report.

As for interline tickets, the plating carrier will hold funds until the operating carrier operates the flight or perform an involuntary exchange on the affected coupons.
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Old Apr 6, 2020, 2:48 pm
  #100  
 
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Originally Posted by yyz_consulted
Called AC today about the enforcement notice, talked to a reservations agent and a concierge and they both said that they have been told the policy is not changing due to the DOT enforcement notice as "Air Canada is a Canadian company." Not sure that logic checks out. So back to weighing chargeback vs insurance options.
Don't hesitate to file a complaint with the DOT as well, pointing out, among other things, that Air Canada used the excuse of being a non-US airline to not comply with the DOT notice.
https://www.transportation.gov/airco...umer-complaint
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Old Apr 6, 2020, 2:52 pm
  #101  
 
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Originally Posted by yyz_consulted
Called AC today about the enforcement notice, talked to a reservations agent and a concierge and they both said that they have been told the policy is not changing due to the DOT enforcement notice as "Air Canada is a Canadian company." Not sure that logic checks out. So back to weighing chargeback vs insurance options.
Good luck with that. If the DOT is going after airlines they will absolutely start with any non-US one that is violating the regulations.
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Old Apr 6, 2020, 4:39 pm
  #102  
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Originally Posted by Transpacificflyer
The issue is not grey because the Canadian courts have already established that;
1. An entity which engages in an activity of specialized expertise is held to a higher standard of care than a layperson. Air Canada is in the business of air transportation. The subject of pandemics and the potential for travel suspension was both known to the airline and should have been modeled for by the airline.


AC is in the business of air transportation and I expect it to be an expert in that. I don't expect it to have a clear view on how a pandemic will unfold, especially given that the true experts on the subject (public health officials/governments) have had such a poor handle on this disease, how quickly it would spread, and what measures (including travel restrictions) would be required to deal with it.

I think that AC was entitled to rely on the instructions and regulations provided by governmental bodies in setting and adjusting their flight schedule, because no private business could be expected to have better information.

Your argument allows for a company to behave in a dishonest manner. (I am not accusing AC of dishonesty, but am pointing out that the argument supports dishonesty.) Your defense would allow an airline to sell a ticket, then cancel the ticket and offer the customer a "credit" for a portion of the unused portion, all the while holding on to the money (the float). A cynic might call that "kiting". The method is unfair because the customer had contracted to fly at a specific time, and more importantly, the Air Canada credits typically have an expiration date. There is no certainty that Air Canada customers who have these settlements will be fairly compensated or will even be able to collect the monies owed.
You have apparently COMPLETELY misunderstood my position on refunds.

AIR CANADA SHOULD BE PROVIDING REFUNDS ON FLIGHTS IT HAS CANCELLED. I DO NOT SUPPORT OR DEFEND THEIR REFUSAL TO DO SO, AND HAVE STATED MY OPPOSITION TO THEIR STANCE NUMEROUS TIMES IN THIS THREAD AND OTHERS.


Hopefully that clears it up.

As far as I'm concerned, as long as AC had a reasonable belief that it would operate the flights it was selling (even if they might have known there was some risk that they'd have to cancel), and AC provided a full (and prompt) refund to anyone whose flight was cancelled, no real injury would have been caused to passengers.

Now that you (hopefully) understand that, I'm not sure we have any disagreement about "duty of care" other than whether a little pre-purchase warning on the website was necessary.
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Old Apr 6, 2020, 4:44 pm
  #103  
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Originally Posted by seawolf
I believe the buffer is/was $0 as per page 163 in 2019 AC annual report.
Nice to see someone else reading the AC financials other than me When this subject came up the other day in a different thread, I didn't even think to go there. I had assumed some of the restricted cash was held against that, but had spent enough time going through the docs already on other matters that I didn't bother to look.

Interesting to see though, despite what's stated in note 18 (the one to which you referred) that they do have some credit card holdbacks on AC Vacations sales, per note 2P.
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Old Apr 6, 2020, 6:19 pm
  #104  
 
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Originally Posted by yyz_consulted
Hi folks posting here because related to AC flight and AMEX Canada forum dead.

Question: Has anyone successfully used AMEX Plat. Trip Cancellation insurance on AC TB flights canceled due to COVID-19 by opting for ACs "Option 1 (refund minus non-refundable) over "Option 2" (24 month credit)?

Details:
  • Early May PNR YYZ<->USA proactively cancelled by AC last week. Given option to either:
    1) cancel and get $45 back or 2) get $1100 voucher for travel within 24 months.
  • Called AMEX insurance and they said that if I can prove I did not get a voucher for future travel, the insurance will cover the entire non-refundable portion, however would not confirm in writing
  • Hesitant to refuse the credit and then get insurance claim denied. Curious if anyone has successfully gone down this route.
  • My other thought may be to do a chargeback on grounds of breaking US DOT refund rules, but also don't have any data points on success rate
It looks like most insurances will decline coverage if a credit is offered: Advisory: Travel cancellation insurance and airline vouchers or credits
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Old Apr 6, 2020, 8:48 pm
  #105  
 
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Originally Posted by Adam Smith
AC is in the business of air transportation and I expect it to be an expert in that. I don't expect it to have a clear view on how a pandemic will unfold, especially given that the true experts on the subject (public health officials/governments) have had such a poor handle on this disease, how quickly it would spread, and what measures (including travel restrictions) would be required to deal with it.

I think that AC was entitled to rely on the instructions and regulations provided by governmental bodies in setting and adjusting their flight schedule, because no private business could be expected to have better information.



You have apparently COMPLETELY misunderstood my position on refunds.

AIR CANADA SHOULD BE PROVIDING REFUNDS ON FLIGHTS IT HAS CANCELLED. I DO NOT SUPPORT OR DEFEND THEIR REFUSAL TO DO SO, AND HAVE STATED MY OPPOSITION TO THEIR STANCE NUMEROUS TIMES IN THIS THREAD AND OTHERS.


Hopefully that clears it up.

As far as I'm concerned, as long as AC had a reasonable belief that it would operate the flights it was selling (even if they might have known there was some risk that they'd have to cancel), and AC provided a full (and prompt) refund to anyone whose flight was cancelled, no real injury would have been caused to passengers.

Now that you (hopefully) understand that, I'm not sure we have any disagreement about "duty of care" other than whether a little pre-purchase warning on the website was necessary.
Your position is that while you accept that Air Canada is an expert in air transportation you do not expect it to have been an expert in how the pandemic would unfold. I am not asking the airline to be an expert at pandemic management. Rather, I believe it reasonable that the airline have a workable pandemic plan for its operations. The issue of not responding to customers for extended periods of time, the lack of clear communication combined with the refusal to refund monies owed ,suggest that the airline did not have an appropriate plan.

After the SARS crisis, airlines were expected to develop a pandemic response as part of their Business Continuity Plan. IMO, the issue of refunds and how the airline would operate would have been dealt with in an effective plan. For example, the US CDC provided Pandemic Planning Guidance years ago. One of the items specifically mentioned was to Determine the potential impact of a pandemic on continuity of operations and company finances. (See www.pandemicflu.gov/impacts/index.html Even though it is US advice, I expect that the Air Canada's external auditors would have raised the issue with the company.

IMO Air Canada adopted the same position that it does with weather related cancellations and delays and that what we see as a failure to respond was intentional. I note that the filing has a demand for punitive damages.

I do not accept that Air Canada had a reasonable belief that it would still be operating its flights. This is because I have read the North American Influenza Pandemic Plan. I suggest that you read Chapter 5 as it sets out the expected travel impact in the event of a pandemic. https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/r...en.aspx#a5.2.3 You argue that "the true experts on the subject (public health officials/governments) have had such a poor handle on this disease, how quickly it would spread, and what measures (including travel restrictions) would be required to deal with it" provides the airline with a justifiable reason to escape responsibility. The failure of a government to act appropriately, does not alleviate a person or organization's own duty of care, particularly when there is a written indication from the government of what to expect in the event of a pandemic.
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