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Sunday,  July 21, 2024 9:33 AM 

“Erroneous responses”: Air Canada clarifies story about rejecting comp. claims

“Erroneous responses”: Air Canada clarifies story about rejecting comp. claims
(Air Canada)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Air Canada is clarifying a story that’s running in mainstream media today (June 9) that says it rejected compensation claims from travellers who were among the thousands impacted by recent flight delays caused by a computer glitch.

In a statement to PAX, Air Canada said that it is, in fact, offering compensation in line with Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) compensation levels for flights that were affected by its IT outage, which briefly grounded and delayed aircraft last month.

It’s also possible that inaccurate information is being circulated in the news.

Air Canada also said that some of its passengers received “erroneous responses from us,” and that it is “in the process of recontacting them with the correct responses.”

READ MORE: Air passenger rights changes put burden of proof on airlines, not travellers, says Ottawa

The Canadian Press on Friday reported that Air Canada was rejecting compensation claims outright, citing a message from the airline that was sent to customers that said the technology issue was outside of the carrier's control, relieving it of obligations to pay compensation.

The outlet spoke to one passenger, Douglas Judson, who arrived more than three hours late after his June 1 flight from Winnipeg to Toronto was delayed due to the outage.

The passenger told CP that Air Canada denied his compensation request but offered him a 15 per cent fare discount on an upcoming flight in what appeared to be a goodwill gesture.

It now appears that message was sent in error and the Canadian Press has updated its story to reflect Air Canada's clarification. 

CTA posts advice

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), meanwhile, has posted guidance for passengers who were affected by Air Canada’s recent tech-related delays and cancellations

The CTA has reminded passengers who feel that they have not received compensation, or other entitlements that they should have received from Air Canada for recent cancelled flights, should make a claim directly with the airline.

If Air Canada does not respond to a claim within 30 days, or if it provides an unsatisfactory response, travellers are being instructed to file a complaint with the CTA directly.

“Each complaint filed with the CTA will be decided on the specific facts of the case,” the agency says.

However, in light of the principles established by the CTA's decisions in Lareau v Westjet and Anslow v Sunwing, there is a “high threshold for airlines to demonstrate that flight disruptions due to the airlines own actions or failure are outside their control or required for safety, and thus avoid paying compensation for inconvenience.”

On June 1, speaking to media, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Air Canada has obligations to the passengers who were impacted by the tech issue since the incident was within the airline's control.

In April, the federal government announced stronger measures to beef up penalties and tighten loopholes around air traveller compensation.

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