MONTREAL — A consumer media outlet is reporting that Quebec’s Justice Minister has promised travellers they will get refunds for vacations cancelled due to the COVID-19 travel lockdown.
CTV News in Montreal reports that Simon Jolin-Barrette, who is the province’s Minister of Justice with oversight for Quebec’s Office de la Protection du Consommateur, said yesterday he is working on a large-scale solution that will see consumers get their money back for cancelled trips in the wake of the pandemic. The story originated with wire news service The Canadian Press.
“I will make sure that Quebec consumers do not lose the money they paid for vacations, with family or alone,” said Jolin-Barrette.
“All players will have to pay what they have to pay.”
The refunds vs. vouchers / FTCs debate has been one of the biggest problems facing travel agents, travel suppliers and clients as the travel industry navigates the uncharted waters of the global pandemic.
Thousands of Canadians have signed petitions asking the federal government to require airlines and other carriers under federal jurisdiction to allow customers whose trips have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic to obtain a refund.
There are no easy answers, say agents, who are caught in the middle.
For the most part Canada’s airlines and tour operators have held fast to their decision to offer future travel credits instead of refunds, with some exceptions.
In the early days of the pandemic, the Canadian Transportation Agency issued a statement that under the extraordinary circumstances, vouchers / FTCs are an acceptable alternative to refunds.
The statement says that “while any specific situation brought before the CTA will be examined on its merits, the CTA believes that, generally speaking, an appropriate approach in the current context could be for airlines to provide affected passengers with vouchers or credits for future travel, as long as these vouchers or credits do not expire in an unreasonably short period of time (24 months would be considered reasonable in most cases).”
In recent months airlines including Air Canada and Transat have made their FTCs transferrable and eliminated expiry dates, to offer more flexibility.
To read the CTV News Montreal story click here.
CLARIFICATION: On Aug. 21 the CTA issued the following clarification to Travelweek, to ensure the utmost clarity. On Aug. 20 Travelweek noted that in the early days of the pandemic, the CTA issued a statement that under the extraordinary circumstances, vouchers / FTCs are an acceptable alternative to refunds. Says the CTA’s media team: “The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) issued the Statement in light of the risk that many passengers would receive nothing at all for the cost of cancelled flights, and the severe liquidity crisis experienced by airlines as flight and passenger volumes collapsed virtually overnight. To be clear, it did not relieve any airline otherwise obligated to pay refunds from doing so, as stated on our website. … As indicated on our website and as we have said publicly on multiple occasions, if passengers think they’re entitled to a refund and the airline refuses to provide one or offers a voucher with conditions passengers don’t want to accept, they can file a complaint with the CTA, which will determine if the airline complied with the terms of its tariff. Each case is decided on its merits. The voucher statement did not affect anyone’s right.”