I just read an article on Savvy New Canadians about requesting and receiving a small refund (as a flight credit) from Air Canada for a recently interrupted travel plan. We found ourselves in a similar situation in January 2023 but we had a different outcome and I wanted to share our experience.
For context, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) says (as of 2018) that airlines have to give compensation for flights that are delayed or cancelled for reasons that are within the airlines control.
In December 2022, we flew from Halifax, through Toronto, to St. Louis to spent the holidays with my family. As you may remember, there was a huge winter storm from December 21 to 26 in North America. We flew to St. Louis on December 21, just ahead of the storm. We experienced a small delay (~2 hours) but that was it.
For our return flight, we were supposed to return on December 27. The evening of December 26 (~7 PM Central Time) we were notified that our flight the following morning at 9 AM had been cancelled “due to equipment availability”. I spent 2 hours on hold to talk to someone at Air Canada, by which time we’d been automatically re-booked on the same flights for December 30 (3 days later). The person I spoke to wasn’t able to give me any better options. We considered some crazier solutions (e.g. driving or taking the train to Chicago) but ultimately we decided to keep our re-booked flight.
After we returned home, on January 1, I submitted a complaint with Air Canada using their form. The auto-response from this form (as well as the CTA policy) promises a response within 30 days. After 30 days had elapsed without a response, on February 1, I also submitted a complaint to the Canadian Transportation Agency (using this form).
Here are the requirements to filing a complaint with the CTA:
On February 6, we received a response from Air Canada (36 days later) offering us $300 per traveller in Air Canada travel credits that expired in 3 years. This was the same thing offered to Savvy New Canadians. I added this information to our case with CTA, with a comment to the effect that we didn’t feel like this met the requirements of the refund process for travel interruptions.
Then, on February 27, we received another response from Air Canada giving each traveller a $1000 refund via e-transfer (and cancelling the $300 travel credit). I’m not sure, but I assume that the reason we received this updated refund offer is because our complaint with the CTA was moving forward. Thus, I would absolutely encourage you to file a complaint with the CTA (in addition to the airline) if you meet their complaint requirements.
If you have any experience requesting a refund due to a travel interruption, please feel free to share it below!