“A win-win for everyone, especially travel agents”: What front-line agents are saying about Air Canada’s COVID-19 refunds and commission protection commitment

“A win-win for everyone, especially travel agents”: What front-line agents are saying about Air Canada’s COVID-19 refunds and commission protection commitment

TORONTO — Front-line travel agents and agency managers and owners say they were thrilled to see commission protection included in last night’s announcement by Air Canada and the federal government, and to see the extremely challenging work travel agents have done over the past 13 months recognized and acknowledged.

Many agents Travelweek reached out to said they still had questions about the details around Air Canada’s COVID-19 refund policy, and about ACV.

This morning both Air Canada and ACV sent out more details about the refunds.

Eligible Air Canada passengers who purchased a non-refundable ticket for travel on or after February 1, 2020 but did not fly can now obtain a refund from the carrier by submitting a request online or with their travel agent.

The revised COVID-19 refund policy covers tickets and ACV packages purchased before April 13, 2021 for flights cancelled either by the airline or by the customer for any reason.

“Air Canada will be offering refunds to all eligible customers whether they cancelled their ticket or if their flight was cancelled by the airline. Customers can now submit refund requests online or through their travel agent and we are committed to processing refunds as fast as possible,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada.

 

 

In addition, says Guillemette, Air Canada has revised its booking policies for all future travel.

This afternoon Guillemette is hosting an Air Canada virtual town hall for the trade.

Travelweek has put together complete coverage following last night’s announcements from Air Canada and the federal government. For more on Air Canada’s and ACV’s refund policies, and news about Guillemette’s newly-announced appointment as President of ACV, click here. For reaction from Transat, Sunwing and WestJet, click here. And to hear what ACTA and ACITA have to say after their months and months of dedication, intensive lobbying and incredibly hard work to help secure this win for the retail travel sector, click here.

WHAT WE’RE HEARING FROM AGENTS

Travelweek reached out to many front-line agents, managers and owners this morning to get their reaction to last night’s news. Here’s what they’re telling us:

“Relief! Absolute relief that our voices have been finally heard after a long year. Very thankful for the work done by ACTA and ACITA, without their efforts this would not have happened. I can now look forward to being able to assist my clients in this process without the stress of commission recalls. Let’s hope WestJet/WestJet Vacations follows their lead.”

– Carrie Anne Gillespie, Travel Advisor, Regina, SK

“The work that Travel Advisors do is so integral to this industry. Our clients rely on us in the best of times and in the most challenging as well. I am pleased to see this step of added protection being taken.”

– Sandra Weber, Manager, Merit Travel, Toronto, ON

“I am thrilled to hear the news. We have had 50-plus emails this morning from clients with ACV bookings that are now expecting a refund. I hope WestJet, Transat and Sunwing follow suit. I wonder how the air consolidators will handle net fares?”

– Faith Sproule, Owner, Niche Travel Group

“I’m really happy to hear about the protection of the commissions for travel advisors, it’s a big sigh of relief knowing this is not money we are going to have to pay back for commissions we have already received or commissions that are owed to us that we know we will get without having to send it back. I’m still waiting to hear all the details as there are always conditions with any announcement as we have learned over the last number of months!   I hope it’s beneficial for my clients, I’ve already had inquiries from clients, so everyone is watching this with anticipation, us and our clients.”

– Scott Penney, Travel Advisor, The Travel Agent Next Door

“I am relieved to see that commission protection has been included as a component of the government’s liquidity agreement with Air Canada.  Travel agencies and individual travel advisors have been amongst the hardest hit businesses during the pandemic, some working with little to no ongoing income for over a year.  Commission recalls would have significantly added to their financial burdens and could have forced many agencies and advisors into bankruptcy.  This agreement will ease some of the financial pressures that these businesses have suffered since the pandemic began, while finally allowing consumers to receive refunds for their cancelled flights due to Covid-19. Overall, this agreement is a welcome development for our industry and for the travelling public.”

– Eric Cohen, Travel Advisor, Infinite Departures Travel

“This news is a win-win for everyone across the board but especially for travel agents who have had to endure a year of uncertainty, charge backs and commission recalls. Finally, they’ve been heard and acknowledged! With the appropriate feedback and due diligence, there was great thought put into this government package. It’s not the typical corporate bailout where only one side was taken into consideration and we are very pleased with the outcome. This should set a precedent for other airlines seeking similar government assistance as it solidifies the significance of travel agents in these situations.”

– Ayesha Patel, Travel Consultant, The Travel Agent Next Door

“I am very happy to see this resolution, if in the end our customers are happy. I am anxious to see the details, as right now there are a lot of unanswered questions as to how and who it applies to and if it indeed does look after the travel agencies for both groups and individual reservations.”

– Lois Barbour, Travel Time TPI, St. John’s, NL

Kathryn Folliott