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Friday,  July 19, 2024 6:07 PM 

WestJet asserts compliance with APPR rules, posts refund clarification

  • Air
  •   07-08-2024  8:41 am
  •   Pax Global Media

WestJet asserts compliance with APPR rules, posts refund clarification
(Pax Global Media/file photo)
Pax Global Media

WestJet says it is operating in compliance with Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) following the mechanics strike that led to almost 1,200 flight cancellations during and after the Canada Day long weekend.

According to APPR rules, in the event of a flight cancellation, alternate travel arrangements be provided to guests within 48 hours. If this is not possible, guests are entitled to request a refund to their original form of payment.

In a clarification posted to its website on Friday (July 5), WestJet said that under the rules, compensation for hotels and meals is not required for situations outside of a carrier’s control.

“The courts have held that the declaration of a strike marks the onset of a labour disruption,” WestJet wrote in a press release. “Therefore, flights disrupted due to a declaration of a strike and the strike itself are considered outside of a carrier’s control under the APPR.”

READ MORE: “A complete disaster”: Anger & frustration as agents clean up mess left by WestJet strike

Despite this, in certain instances, WestJet said it “went above and beyond its APPR obligations and provided hotel nights for guests stranded abroad.”

This is true – to a degree. The travel advisors that PAX spoke to last week said WestJet was, indeed, covering the costs for additional hotel nights – upwards of $150 CAD per person – but with limitations.

In some cases, only one additional night was covered for travellers stranded in destinations, forcing some to pay out of pocket for extended stays once flights disappeared.

The extent of how many WestJet customers were required to pay for additional hotel nights is not known.

What about WestJet Vacations?

Meanwhile, those who purchased packages trips through WestJet Vacations faced a separate refund policy. 

While WestJet activated flexible change and cancellation policies for its air customers during the strike, those who booked air and land packages through WestJet Vacations were subject to different policies.

READ MORE: WestJet confirms end to AMFA strike, says "returning to business-as-usual flying will take time"

What was valid for travel between June 29-July 3, 2024, on all fare packages, the policy offered a $0 one-time fee waiver for all changes or cancellations. 

As well, customers who cancel their WestJet Vacations package could only get the air portion refunded.

The land portion was returned as WestJet dollars with a one-year expiry date from the date of cancellation.

TICO addresses issue  

Given that travel is a provincially-regulated industry (only three provinces have regulations, this being Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia), the outcome of this policy may vary across the country. It also depends on the terms and conditions of each booking.

The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO), however, has told PAX that Ontario consumers who purchased a WestJet Vacations package (not land and air separate), and who didn’t receive their vacation, are entitled to a full refund (if they want one).

READ MORE: Full refunds for customers of WestJet Vacations in Ontario? TICO addresses strike

If the customer initiated a cancellation for travel services that were still available, they are subject to the terms and conditions of the booking.

As reported, WestJet’s call centre tried to get impacted customers booked on flights with other carriers and get them on their way (but it wasn’t easy).

READ MORE: WestJet stabilizes operations after strike

It also appears the airline wasn’t paying for lost resort nights due to later-than-expected arrivals in destinations.

PAX has reached out to WestJet Vacations for further clarification on its refund policy.

On the air side, WestJet notes that it is obligated to respond to APPR claims received within a 30-day period. Guests are invited to submit a claim for eligible expenses via WestJet.com. 

For more information regarding APPR, guests can visit the Canadian Transportation Agency’s website.

Ontario-based consumers or travel advisors that have questions can contact TICO at tico@tico.ca.


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