More Canadians blame weather and airlines, than govt., for holiday travel mess: poll

More Canadians blame weather and airlines, than govt., for holiday travel mess: poll

VANCOUVER — A new Angus Reid poll suggests that Canadians are unconvinced that fining airlines for failed service will help improve future outcomes.

The poll comes in the wake of airline and train delays and cancellations over the holidays.

New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds Canadians as likely to blame the weather (70%) as the airlines and rail companies (68%) for the holiday travel chaos. One-in-three (33%) blame the federal government. A similar number (30%) blame the travellers for putting themselves in the situation.

Those affected are most likely to blame the weather (54%) for dumping snow on their holiday plans, but they do so at a lower rate than those who avoided the travel mishaps completely (71%).

The data also indicate strong desire from Canadians for more government regulation to protect consumers from cancellations (78% say this), but a mixed belief that the regulation already in place will have much effect. Two-in-five (44%) want the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) to levy fines against the airlines who failed to uphold customer rights even if it means the companies raise airfares to cover them. One-third (34%) want the CTA to find other ways to hold airlines accountable for cancellations and delays.

Even after Transport Minister Omar Alghabra held a summit with airlines and airports in November, following the summer travel chaos, two-in-five (39%) Canadians believe Transport Canada failed to prepare for the holiday surge in travel. Two-in-five (43%) are more likely to absolve the government ministry and say the December travel mess was out of its control.

On Jan. 12, representatives from Canada’s airline industry, including Air Canada, WestJet and Sunwing, were questioned for hours during an emergency meeting of the federal government’s Transport Committee about the holiday season air travel problems. All three airlines were taken to task for the lack of effective communication to passengers impacted by the holiday delays and cancellations.

Here are the key findings from the Angus Reid poll…

  • Those whose holiday plans were affected by the travel woes say Transport Canada failed to plan for the holiday surge in travel at higher rates (50%) than those who avoided the mess (36%).
  • Half (47%) of frequent travellers believe the CTA should levy fines against the airlines even if it means the companies raise ticket prices to cover the fines.
  • Three-in-five (61%) Canadians say major airlines and rail lines don’t care about their customers. Frequent travellers are more likely to disagree (37%) than others who travel less, but still three-in-five (58%) in that group believe the major travel operators are inconsiderate of their clientele.
  • Two-in-five (43%) Canadians are planning to travel more this year as air passenger volumes have recovered, but still lag pre-pandemic numbers.