MONTREAL — Here’s a new twist on a contentious issue: OWG wants to reimburse travellers out-of-pocket for COVID-cancelled air travel with a prize giveaway.
The startup carrier, which announced in July 2020 that it wanted to offer sun routes out of Quebec and later teamed up with Hola Sun for Cuba flights, says it’s offering travellers who lost their deposit because of the pandemic a chance to recover their money or get a credit toward a future flight.
As OWG President Marco Prud’Homme notes, the mass cancellations of airline bookings due to the pandemic, with reimbursement largely in the form of future travel credits and vouchers, created turmoil for many travellers, and also made travellers lose trust in their airlines.
“Currently thousands of travellers have fallen out of love with their traditional transporters. This promotion is our way to tell them that our heart is open and that there is always a local Québec based alternative for those who like to travel,” said Prud’Homme.
As part of its ‘High Love’ campaign, OWG is now offering travellers a chance to recover their money or get a credit toward a future OWG flight.
The contest is open to all travellers, who are asked to fill out a form on OWG.COM. As OWG says: “They will be asked to explain why they deserve to be chosen based on their story – for example, a ruined wedding anniversary, an important trip canceled or any reason justifying why they deserve to win this sum. The questionnaire offers a choice between being reimbursed in cash or in the form of a credit applicable on a future OWG flight – once it’s safe to travel again.”
Each week the OWG team will choose a winner based on the merits of their storyline, says the airline.
A sum equivalent to the lost amount will be delivered in person by an OWG employee.
The refunds vs. vouchers debate has been simmering ever since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, with several air passenger advocacy groups organizing petitions calling for refunds. One related case went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, however the court refused to hear it.
Meanwhile the proposed airline bailout hinges on refunds and Canada’s travel agents stand to lose up to $200 in commission recalls if it goes ahead without some form of protection against commission recalls.