Agents lost up to $30,000 in recalled commissions due to winter cancellations: ACITA survey
ACTIA's leadership team (clockwise from top left): Brenda Slater, Nancy Wilson, Heather Kearns, Bronwen Hill, Michelle Gaudet, Lynda Dennis

Agents lost up to $30,000 in recalled commissions due to winter cancellations: ACITA survey

TORONTO — A new survey by ACITA (Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors) has underscored the continued need for commission protections following winter cancellations by both airlines and tour operators.

According to the survey, 20% of respondents said they had up to $30,000 in commissions recalled, while 4% had between $31,000 and $70,000 recalled. 

Fifty-two percent of agents who were impacted by cancellations are from Saskatchewan.

Fifty-seven percent of the cancellations took place between Dec. 29, 2022 and early January 2023, with 37% of cancellations taking place between Dec. 16-29, 2022 during what Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra referred to as a “weather-related ordeal” during a recent virtual meeting with ACITA members.

Fifty-two percent of agents spent the equivalent of 1-2 days working on files after the initial booking was made, which included processing refunds for impacted clients.

Widespread disruptions in operations over the holiday break by several airlines caused travel chaos for thousands of Canadians, leading to a federal government investigation into how the airlines handled the situation. 

Sunwing’s cancellations and operational challenges stemmed not just from the winter weather over the holiday break, but also its decision to cancel winter sun flights out of Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg and several gateways in Atlantic Canada and northern Ontario. It later announced that it would be cancelling its winter program out of Saskatchewan for the remainder of the season. Sunwing also issued a statement to travel advisors to confirm that it will not protect commissions for the winter cancellations. 

According to ACITA’s survey results, nearly 85% of respondents said their affected bookings were with Sunwing Vacations or Sunwing airline, with over half of those based in Saskatchewan. 

One of the biggest complaints noted in the survey was the lack of communication from airlines and tour operators. Over one-third of respondents said they received no communication from suppliers at all.

Travel advisors also shared that their primary source of information came directly from their clients, a press release or via social media, rather than from airlines and tour operators themselves.

While many airlines and tour operators directed travellers to their respective apps for guidance, ACITA says that many travellers found that information on the apps was inaccurate, not up to date, or differed from airport information and flight tracking apps.

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