TORONTO — Sunwing aims to give travel agents all the resources they need to help clients get their refunds for COVID-19-impacted bookings.
“Our goal is to equip agents with as much information as possible so they can smoothly navigate the refund process on behalf of their clients,” Sunwing spokesperson Melanie Filipp told Travelweek this morning, in the wake of the much-anticipated news about Sunwing’s revised refund policy.
“We are conducting direct outreach to the travel agent community to let them know about eligibility requirements, the refund process, and providing them with extensive FAQs to help them field common inquiries both they and their clients may have,” she said.
“This is in addition to posting key information and resources on our travel agent portal, including a direct link to the refund request form, and a notification on our ‘Sunwing – Exclusively for Agents’ Facebook page.”
Sunwing’s revised refund policy now includes non-refundable bookings cancelled by COVID-19. Customers with non-refundable bookings whose vacations were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and who have received a future travel credit or opted to use their Worry Free cancellation waiver and received travel vouchers, can request a full refund to their original form of payment.
The new policy applies to hotels, flights and vacation packages booked on or before June 25, 2021 for scheduled travel from February 1, 2020 onwards.
To request a refund, eligible customers and travel agents are asked to submit a request through Sunwing’s online COVID-19 refund request form by August 27, 2021.
Sunwing’s new agreement with the Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corporation (CEEFC), in addition to its February 2021 agreement, gives the company access to a repayable loan worth up to $100 million, under the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF), with the goal of providing financing for customer refunds.
As part of the agreement, travel agent commissions will not be recalled. Sunwing is the latest Canadian carrier to announce refunds for COVID-19 impacted travel plans. Air Canada’s announcement came April 12, and Transat’s came April 29, both as part of similar financial assistance packages with the federal government.
Filipp told Travelweek: “We are confident that agents and customers alike will be pleased with today’s announcement. We have been working diligently behind the scenes to support those with non-refundable bookings whose travel was cancelled amid the pandemic and are glad we have reached an agreement with the government to provide the financing needed for customer refunds.”
She added: “We know that the entire agent community has been busy fielding inquiries on refunds during the pandemic, so this announcement will help them directly address and alleviate customer concerns. In addition, we think agents will be very pleased to hear that commissions will not be recalled! We are thrilled that we can continue to support our valued travel agent community as part of our financing agreement.”
Regular terms and conditions will apply to any refund requests made after 11:59 p.m. EST on August 27, 2021.
Those who will not be eligible for a refund under the new policy include: customers who already received a refund, including a refund from an insurance provider; customers who received a refund from initiating a chargeback, or have a chargeback currently in progress; or customers who transferred their travel credit to another person not named on the booking.
Customers who wish to keep their Sunwing Vacations travel credit may do so and can take advantage of incredible savings on their future dream getaway. Future travel credits are available for travel up to September 30, 2026.
More information on the refund process and eligibility can be found on Sunwing’s website, here.
“After a difficult 16 months for the travel industry, we’re excited for our future and grateful for the ongoing support and dedication from the agent community,” says Filipp.
Earlier this week Sunwing announced plans to resume partial service to select sun destinations from Toronto and Montreal, starting July 30, 2021. The destinations on offer include Cancun, Punta Cana, Varadero and Punta Cana.
Travelweek’s interview with Sunwing’s Chief Marketing Officer Samantha Taylor about those new sun flights can be found here.