MONTREAL — While many Air Canada and ACV clients are not surprisingly keen on refunds for their COVID-cancelled travel plans, more than a few want to keep their future travel credits (FTCs) on file.
And that’s just fine with Air Canada’s Director, Canada Sales & Global Accounts, Tracey Bellamy, and ACV’s General Manager of Sales Ontario and National Accounts, Eminia Nigro.
Updating the trade courtesy of ACTA, as part of ACTA’s webinar series, Nigro along with Bellamy and Air Canada’s VP, Canada & USA Sales, Lisa Pierce said it’s no problem at all if clients want to hang on to their FTCs.
It was one of many questions the airline and tour op are getting from travel agents in the wake of the April 12 announcement from Air Canada, and the April 13 announcement from ACV, that COVID refunds (and commission protection) would proceed as part of Air Canada’s financial assistance package from the federal government.
“That’s a question we’re hearing a lot from agents: ‘What do I do if my client wants to keep the FTC?’ That’s an easy one – you don’t have to do anything,” said Nigro. “Many are opting to keep the FTC on file because they absolutely want to travel.”
ACTA President Wendy Paradis is one of them. Paradis said that while her family group of 18 people had to cancel their trip because of COVID, they’re hanging on to the FTC. “Our agent asked if we wanted the refund and we said, no way, we want to travel in March Break 2022,” said Paradis during the ‘A Conversation with Air Canada’ webinar, presented by ACTA, this past Friday.
Paradis added that ACTA members “have been pleasantly surprised at how many people want to stick with the FTC and don’t want the refund.”
AIR CANADA Q&A
ACTA’s hour-long webinar with Air Canada and ACV was a practical, down to brass tacks format with FAQs and overviews of common concerns.
For Air Canada, the Air Canada Flash updates for agents, from April 13, April 16 and April 22 have extensive resources for the refund process including Travel Agent FAQs, the Schedule Change Document, Goodwill Policy and a Tax Reference Guide.
The tax reference guide is key, said Air Canada’s Pierce, who urged agents to consult the guide and do their best through the process. “We really don’t want to issue debit memos, we know this is going to be complex,” Pierce told agents. “We’re not going to be on a campaign to find every little error. But there is a potential for debit memos if the guidelines aren’t followed. As sales agents for Air Canada it is the agent’s responsibility to comply with tax and regulatory requirements.”
Pierce encouraged agents with questions to reach out to the Air Canada’s sales team.
One common question Air Canada is hearing from agents processing COVID refunds is about commissions and what goes in the commission box. “We hear this a lot. You put in zero. The commission box should reflect 0.00,” said Bellamy, adding that agents should contact their GDS help desk for more guidance if needed.
Also of key importance: the refund deadline is June 12, 2021. And agents need to turn those refunds around by July 12, 2021. “Customers need to request their refunds by June 12, 2021 by 11:59 p.m.,” said Bellamy. “And agents will need to have all refunds processed by July 12, 2021, by 11:59 p.m.”
Agents must add the waiver code ACA21COVID before the PNR is cancelled. Refunds are processed via the original booking channel, whether that’s the GDS or aircanada.com/agents.
Other questions covered clients who have had refunds already processed by insurance providers. “If a client was reimbursed by the insurer, then the client is not eligible for a refund,” said Bellamy.
Bellamy also asked that agents not submit refund requests for EMDs.
As announced on April 12 and 13, 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 Air Canada tickets and ACV packages purchased before April 13, 2021 for flights cancelled either by the airline or by the customer for any reason.
During the ACV portion of ACTA’s webinar, Nigro stressed to agents that June 12, 2021 for clients to request their refunds is a firm deadline. “We can’t make any exceptions to that deadline. That’s really important,” said Nigro.
Agents need to enter the first and last name of the passenger on formstack and then use the travel agent’s phone and email. Agents will also need to enter their ACV Business Partner Number (email email@example.com if you need it). Group bookings only need to be submitted once (an ACV Groups rep will call the agent to review the decision of each passenger on the group file).
Like Air Canada, ACV is protecting commissions. “We’re so proud we’re able to protect travel agent commissions for our travel agent partners,” said Nigro.
One question asked how refunds will be processed in cases with multiple payments for one travel package. Says Nigro: “Refunds will be issued on the original form of payment. If multiple payment methods were used, the applicable amounts will be refunded onto each form of payment supplied.”
Agents have also been asking ACV if they will earn commission on files where they applied the full net amount. “For group bookings where the travel agent only applied the full net amount, ACV will pay the agent a commission up to a maximum of 5% on the total file. ACV’s Groups department will reach out to every group file that has requested a refund.”
Agents can reach out to ACV with questions, and Nigro also urged agents to check out ACV’s FAQ, dated April 21, for the latest updates and new features.