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Canadian Transportation Agency Backtracking on Flight Vouchers

UPDATE- Due to a comment below, I am adding a disclaimer that this post is not suppose to be biased towards any sides. The point of this post is to encourage people to see the different sides of the story before making a decision on what to do if they are faced with a cancelled flight. Keep in mind that regardless of anyone’s perspective, it is totally understandable if you need to act in your own best interest.

This is not exactly a good look on the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) who is now backing away from their previous position that airlines are not required to refund flight cancellations. Their position was that airlines have the right to issue travel credits instead of refunding cancellation trip. Even though their position is not a binding decision, it was their position.

CTA’s New Position

CBC reports that the CTA has now backtracked on their position on siding with airlines about refusing refunds.

The CTA states on their website that people can continue to file a complaint against an airline:

  • During these difficult times, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) continues to maintain its normal operations … You can continue to request CTA services, file applications, and do normal business with us through our normal channels.

Where it gets confusing is that even though they “maintain its normal operations”, there is an exception.

Dispute Resolution Paused

If you read further on their website, it also mentions that they paused any dispute resolutions:

  • … the CTA has temporarily paused all dispute resolution activities involving air carriers until June 30, 2020, ...

That’s not all. The pause can be drag out even longer:

  • ... On or before June 30, 2020, the Agency will determine if the pause should end on that date or be extended to a later date.

So they are stating their position, but they are not available to help.

Compromise Solution

Let’s not get too negative about the CTA, since there is only so much they can really do anyway. I would say that regardless of what you read online. I think most airlines are still dealing with passengers on a case by case basis.

Perspective of the passenger

Let’s discuss the arguments for the passenger first before balancing things out. If you want your money back because you need it, or you do not plan to take the trip anymore (or any other reason), then there is nothing stopping you from working it out directly with the airline.

You may be on hold for a long time with customer service and you may need to call in a few different times depending on which agent you speak with, so you will need to be patient to work it out. So be prepared for that.

Perspective of the airline

On the other hand, I would keep in mind that every day that passes (while travel restrictions remain), airlines run into deeper financial trouble. At some point, either the airline goes bankrupt or the government needs to bail them out.

Neither situation is desirable in the grand scheme of things. So yes, if we are scared that the airline goes bankrupt, it is reasonable to want our money back now. If the government decides to bail them out, it will comes from our tax dollars, where everyone is on the hock for that bill, even if you are not travelling.

Personally, I think that if you have the financial means, flexible with your travel and willing to take the risk, I would recommend changing your flight instead of cancelling. Many airlines are offering 12-24 month vouchers, which is open to be extended if the pandemic drags out further. It’s a lot to ask, so what’s in it for you?

If you do change your flight, I would however argue with the airline to maintain the price that I paid, rather have them charge me a fare difference. I think this is where airlines can work with us. To balance things out for the airline, regardless of whether the future fare increases or decreases, they will honour the price that we paid. So they win some and lose some, but it balance things out overall.

What should you do?

My only suggestion is to keep some sort of balance in mind and act according to your personal situation.

If you are being fair and reasonable with the airline, I think that they will do what they can to accommodate you.

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