Airline passengers express frustration after WestJet cuts services and reimburses with vouchers


Airline passengers trying to get to the Maritimes say they are not getting full refunds after WestJet announced it would drastically cut services on the East Coast.On Wednesday, WestJet announced that it would indefinitely suspend flights to Moncton, Fredericton, Sydney and Charlottetown, while cutting “significantly” service to Halifax and St. John’s.

It’s a decision that airline passengers in the Maritimes find logical, given the situation caused by COVID-19. But what doesn’t make sense to them is the way they are reimbursed.

“I don’t blame them for this decision, but they took my money, they took my reservation, and now they have to live with the consequences,” said Emmanuel Maicas, who recently booked a trip to the Dominican Republic.

READ MORE: WestJet cuts more than 100 flights to Atlantic Canada as pandemic makes service ‘unsustainable’

Maicas says he spent nearly $ 6,000 on flights for the family trip. He says the travel credits are of no use to him if WestJet does not return to Moncton, where he lives.

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“If WestJet doesn’t provide the service to me, well, I want my money back,” he said.

“In my mind, the only thing that will satisfy me is a full refund. “

It’s a similar situation Megan Hilderpants found herself in. She feels aggrieved by WestJet after she and her wife booked flights to Fredericton days before Wednesday’s announcement.

“It was kind of like they were already aware that this was happening,” Hilderpants said. “It seemed a little doubtful that they would sell us tickets so soon.”

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WestJet executive calls for federal support after company cuts flights and jobs

WestJet executive calls for federal support after company cuts flights and jobs

Hilderpants is also in the process of getting her money back, as Fredericton is the only place she and her partner plan to go.

In a statement, WestJet spokesperson Morgan Bell said the Canadian Transportation Agency has determined that travel credit refunds are acceptable in light of the situation caused by COVID-19.

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But passenger rights activist Gábor Lukács says providing vouchers rather than a full refund is illegal and almost fraudulent.

“WestJet is breaking the law here by failing to comply with the fundamental obligation to reimburse passengers or to rebook them,” Lukács said. “As an airline, you have an obligation to change the booking of passengers or flights of other airlines.

“If they choose not to, you have an obligation to reimburse them to the original payment method. “

READ MORE: WestJet cuts ‘just the vanguard’ if federal government doesn’t provide aid to airlines: experts

Lukács says WestJet’s decision may be justified from a public health perspective, but its vouchers do not follow provincial, federal or common law.

“As a general contractual principle, if you are contracting to provide services and you cannot or do not want to perform the services, the bare minimum you need to do is give back to the party the bare minimum that it has. paid, ”he said.

As for airline passengers, they don’t expect their fight with WestJet to end quickly.

“Give us our money back, that would be good. That would be ideal, ”Hilderpants said.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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