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Malcolm

Canadian Passenger Rights

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Hard to understand why anyone could buy a ticket and not be aware that it was not refundable.

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Mind you people do claim not to know the speedlimit for their drive despite the numerous signs.

For example AC makes the choice real easy and easy to understand.

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1 hour ago, Wolfhunter said:

If you had prepaid for a pair of men's pants and the store in question then became a women's dress shop then yes. If you bought a non-refundable ticket for a wedding that was subsequently cancelled, then no. If you ordered and prepaid for a new Harley and gasp, they went out of business, would you be OK with an in-store credit for a new Honda? It's not the same as ordering the bike and changing your mind because you broke your leg.

As far as I know, none of the airlines have switched over to operating trains and buses. None of the airlines in question has gone out of business. If they had, those who purchased tickets would join the thousands of folks who’ve been similarly affected by bankruptcies in the past. If I ordered a motorcycle and the government decided to ban their use on the roads I choose to travel because of a rash of accidents, is that the seller’s problem, or mine?

Edited by J.O.

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22 minutes ago, J.O. said:

If I ordered a motorcycle and the government decided to ban their use on the roads I choose to travel because of a rash of accidents, is that the seller’s problem, or mine?

I don't think we are getting anywhere here.

In your example, no. You could lock the bike in your garage and be in exactly the same position 3 gun competitors are now with AR15s.

If the government banned the importation of Harleys because of a trade war with the US and you were  refused a return on your deposit and offered a credit on a new Honda, I would support your claim of unfairness though. It's really that simple. If your deposit was non-refundable I think you should get it back.... unless you like Honda's, LOL, in which case I don't want to talk to you anymore.

Edited by Wolfhunter
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19 minutes ago, Wolfhunter said:

unless you like Honda's, LOL, in which case I don't want to talk to you anymore.

No worries there. :) 

At the end of the day, I am sympathetic to the complaints, but when I agree to a transaction where the conditions were right there for me to read, I should only expect the other party meet the conditions of said contract to the best of their ability, whether that’s delivering as promised, or providing the agreed compensation when they don’t (or can’t). If the airlines were grounded forever, I’d expect my money back regardless of the fare. They aren’t, so I have to settle for a credit for future travel. 

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2 hours ago, Wolfhunter said:

IMO though, it’s quite another thing to suggest that since it was non-refundable in the first place that there should be no reasonable expectation of either receiving the service or of receiving a refund should the service not be available or performed. It seems to me you are suggesting that Force Majure applies and there is no entitlement to a refund solely as a result of non-refundable status.

Using the same logic, would it not also be true that if Force Majure applies to one class of ticket that it could also be applied to all other classes of ticket by virtue of the same contractual caveat. In that case, the fare structure becomes irrelevant as all are captured by the shared circumstances. If you were to make that argument, I could see the logic and reluctantly agree.

 

Wolfhunter;

Interesting that you brought up the concept of Force Majure.  I had accepted your earlier challenge and was working on a post to argue the "pro-refund" side of the problem that encapsulated this.  I was almost there too but then read your latest and had to re-think.  Now I don't think I can get there.

First to note that English Common Law does not automatically include Force Majure and that it must be clearly stated in a contract.

AC's Tariff does include a Force Majure clause:

RULE 75 – REFUSAL TO TRANSPORT A. Refusal to transport - removal of passenger The Carrier will refuse to transport, or will remove any passenger at any point for any of the following reasons: (1) Government request or regulations Whenever such action is necessary to comply with any government regulations, or at the direction of a government official, or to comply with any government request for emergency transportation in connection with the national defense, or whenever such action is necessary or advisable by reason of weather or other conditions beyond its control (including but without limitation: acts of god, force of majeure, strikes, civil commotions, embargoes, wars, hostilities or disturbances) actual, threatened or reported.

This from AC's Tariff (bolding mine):

RULE 100 – REFUNDS A. General Refund by the Carrier: for an unused ticket or portion thereof, or miscellaneous charges order, refund will be made in accordance with this rule. (1) Economy Basic tickets are entirely non-refundable and hold no credit for future travel. For all other non-refundable tickets, the unused value may be used toward the purchase of another ticket within a year from date of issue if ticket is fully unused or from first departure date for partially used ticket, subject to any fee or penalty contained in applicable fare rules and subject to customer cancelling the booking prior to departure.

Definition of Force Majure:

Force majeure is a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as a war, strike, riot, crime, epidemic or an event described by the legal term act of God, prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract. In practice, most force majeure clauses do not excuse a party's non-performance entirely, but only suspend it for the duration of the force majeure

So, the tariff allows for the refusal of transport (cancelled flights) due to government regulation, basic tickets are non-refundable and hold no future value and Force Majure frees the parties from liability or obligation for the duration of Force Majure.  It appears that AC's issuing vouchers meets or exceeds their tariff.

Yes, I can certainly agree that it doesn't play well on CBC or Facebook but if we wanted we could make a huge list of services paid for with no ability to use/enjoy them due to the Covid:

fitness clubs - monthly memberships with no access and no refunds (I've haven't checked every one of them so maybe a few are)

my shooting range - closed but my yearly membership will be renewed on the same anniversary date with many months lost

cottages - taxes being paid, maintenance, etc with no access

private aircraft, boats, marinas, motorcycles, little kid's karate classes and swimming classes

I realize these are not direct comparisons but my point is that a lot of stuff got paid for with nothing in return and it's nobody's fault.  At least the airlines are giving vouchers which is something.  Diminished value but value nonetheless and for many, more than is stipulated in the tariff.

Edited by seeker

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In our case we were supposed to go on a cruise which we booked through a travel agent. We have got money back from the cruise line but nothing from AC.

I don't know what class of airline ticket we bought it was all part of the package.

If I was given a voucher with no expiration date that would buy me a flight from Vancouver to Barcelona return I would be OK with that, but if they give me a voucher for $500 and the flight a year from now costs $2000 I would not be OK with that.

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2 hours ago, Tiburon said:

A voucher is virtually worthless in this environment and it leaves cash strapped individuals with nothing of value and payments to be made on the credit card no matter what

Oh they have asked they just have not got anything yet and they better not. I am all for the programs that have helped employees stay on the payroll as long as possible under these very unusual circumstances but there had better not be any corporate bailouts

Well, a voucher has value.  Not now but eventually and believe me I am quite cognizant of the Visa bill that needs to be paid.  I prepay for my annual club membership and I'd like to get that money back - not gonna happen.  That money is gone completely - no voucher there.  Same goes for fitness clubs, marina slips and university students who paid for in-person classes with their professor and are now watching him on their laptop.  Lots of people experiencing a loss and out of the bunch, people who are getting a voucher are doing better than most in the fallout.

Now, on the subject of "bailouts."  I keep hearing this term being throw about.  When one company or a subset of an industry gets public money it's a bailout.  When the entire industry gets money it isn't.  AC entered this pandemic with 7 billion dollars in cash and credit facilities.  I ask you, what would expect them to have done to be better prepared?  If you say, "save more", then I'll simply point out that this money comes from ticket sales.  Sure, the entire industry (not just in Canada) could have charged an extra $100 on every ticket for the last 10 years to ensure they'd have enough to ride out the duration - that would have been better I guess, just get the money upfront.  Or, we could just apply tax-credits, fee deferrals, backstop loans, etc as needed, where needed and leave those $100 bills with the consumers for the last 10 years.  And, BTW, why are we "bailing out" individuals?  Those people should have been saving money in case there was a pandemic or something.

You seem to have a real problem with corporations.  You do understand that corporations provide jobs, pay taxes, provide services, right?  Failing to support domestic corporations is exactly the same as shooting yourself in the foot.  Now, should you want to discuss foreign corporations that syphon money out of the country such as Google, Amazon or a hundred others I think you'd find we are 100% in agreement.

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4 minutes ago, mo32a said:

In our case we were supposed to go on a cruise which we booked through a travel agent. We have got money back from the cruise line but nothing from AC.

I don't know what class of airline ticket we bought it was all part of the package.

If I was given a voucher with no expiration date that would buy me a flight from Vancouver to Barcelona return I would be OK with that, but if they give me a voucher for $500 and the flight a year from now costs $2000 I would not be OK with that.

What portion of the package was air travel; was it $500 or $2000?

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1 hour ago, seeker said:

I realize these are not direct comparisons but my point is that a lot of stuff got paid for with nothing in return and it's nobody's fault.  At least the airlines are giving vouchers which is something.  Diminished value but value nonetheless and for many, more than is stipulated in the tariff.

This is a bit dated (and perhaps posted before somewhere) but seems pretty definitive, at least until it isn't.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-passengers-hoping-for-refunds-for-cancelled-flights-will-be-out-of/

Assuming it's all true and continues to remain in force, I guess  it renders much of the discussion moot. At the end of the day it seems reasonable that the legalities contained in the tariff are governing and if carriers have actually exceeded the tariff requirements by virtue of issuing vouchers then so be it.

Most would agree that It certainly doesn't play well though and who knows, it may factor into future amendments to the pax bill of rights, which I assume is a living document and will become more expensive with age and the weight of future amendments.  

Edited by Wolfhunter

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32 minutes ago, mo32a said:

I have no idea.

Then how do you know what's an acceptable amount for the voucher?  If you got some back from the cruise line the remainder is the airline portion?

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Although it may not sound like it I really am sympathetic and if I had hundreds or thousands of dollars tied up in vouchers I wouldn't be happy either.  It's a dilemma.  The US is forcing the airlines to give refunds but is also giving $60 billion in industry assistance.  Canadian airlines haven't received assistance yet but it may be necessary and forcing refunds will make it imminently critical for all but AC which might make it a few months before being in the same position.  Like it or not, our airlines compete in a global marketplace.

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On 5/30/2020 at 1:48 PM, seeker said:

Then how do you know what's an acceptable amount for the voucher?  If you got some back from the cruise line the remainder is the airline portion?

I paid for a flight from Vancouver to Barcelona whatever that price was, all I want is a voucher that will take me from Vancouver to Barcelona in the future.

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Well, as I understand it, you paid for a flight and a cruise and got a refund for the cruise portion, right?  So you should be entitled to the balance (assuming no transfers, hotels, etc were included).  Whether that equals a stand-alone flight to Barcelona is besides the point.  Who knows what pricing the travel agent was able to negotiate/acquire for the flight as part of the package.

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https://nationalpost.com/opinion/kelly-mcparland-why-are-the-liberals-protecting-the-airlines-at-the-expense-of-their-citizens

 

Surely a company with $10 billion in the bank could handle the payments on a long-term, low-interest loan targeted to refunds. Plenty of passengers, given the choice, might opt to keep their vouchers, especially if offered a little sweetener: a suspension of the usual baggage fee, access to the snobby business-class lounge or maybe an on-board sandwich without the usual spine-chilling mark-up.

Passengers have borne the brunt of cramped seating, high fees and crowded terminals from a fiercely competitive industry. The passenger bill of rights introduced a year ago has been a bust. The Canadian Transportation Agency has waffled hopelessly throughout the pandemic. Passengers didn’t cause the crisis. It would be nice to treat them fairly for a change.

National Post
Twitter.com/kellymcparland

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That is such a typical response.  "they just got 1.5 billion dollars.  They should give it away"  The company is doing its best right now, and doing it well, to stay afloat.  Refunding every single cancelled ticket would end the airline.

perhaps AC should provide all the passenger data to the federal government and let them process the refunds directly and just cancel all of the vouchers.  See how that would play out.

 

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48 minutes ago, Tiburon said:

 

 

 

Passengers have borne the brunt of cramped seating, high fees and crowded terminals from a fiercely competitive industry. The passenger bill of rights introduced a year ago has been a bust. The Canadian Transportation Agency has waffled hopelessly throughout the pandemic. Passengers didn’t cause the crisis. It would be nice to treat them fairly for a change.

National Post
Twitter.com/kellymcparland

1. the industry is fiercely competitive because passengers want the lowest price and will jump from carrier to carrier to achieve that.

Passengers did cause the pricing crisis and for some reason think when they purchase a "Non refundable ticket" they should somehow be able to get a refund.  

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6 hours ago, Marshall said:

and for some reason think when they purchase a "Non refundable ticket" they should somehow be able to get a refund.  

Just curious, are you claiming Force Majure here? I'm really not clear on this as it applies to tariff rules...

If so, and if applicable to one fare class, should the same caveat not apply across the board to all fares during the affected period? If service was denied, as opposed to simply missed or declined by the passenger, and if the justification for refusing both the service and the refund stands upon the foundation of Force Majure as causal, would it not be reasonable that all travel on those days be subject to the same elements of the caveat?

I can't help but think (as a matter of fairness because I know less than nothing about tariff rules) that "non refundable" status on services paid for in advance but not delivered is something of a red hearing. If you fell victim to my kitchen renovation contract (which included a time limited non-refundable deposit to obtain a reduced labour rate on the work) would you say the same thing? Better yet, would it be fair for you to pay the full labour rate now by virtue of the fact that the time limit was exceeded by factors outside my control, even though I keep your non-refundable deposit regardless of the decision you make? Take it a step further, if you sold your house during the Covid shutdown, can I keep your deposit because it was non-refundable?

While I'm willing to accept the tariff rules as written, I'm not smart enough to factor the caveats into that equation. I seems to me that a fundamental unfairness needs to be addressed here.

Edited by Wolfhunter

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Tarriff filed at the CTA would rule in this case for all fares within and ex Canada.  Might be over ruled by the country of sale (origin). Fairness is I guess, if you buy a non refundable ticket then the best you can expect is a voucher.  If you buy one that isn't non refundable then you should expect cash.

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20 minutes ago, Marshall said:

Tarriff filed at the CTA would rule in this case for all fares within and ex Canada

Is it fair simply because the CTA says it is or because it's "mountain right".... sorry, y'all has to be from the mountain to get that I guess.

Given the US went with the refund option, what is the difference between them and us? Does it lie in the tariff rules? In other words, did the CTA resolve fairness by decree?

I don't want to beat this up too badly, but the implication of applying Force Majure caveats to one fare and not another at a time when all travel was suspended, goes above and beyond the fare class IMO. 

Edited by Wolfhunter

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You would have to ask them, never had any reason to compare the US filings vs the Canadian. I do know however that the Canadian tariff is a legal document based on the CTA's acceptance of the filing.  Take a look at the following and goto page 78.

https://www.aircanada.com/content/dam/aircanada/portal/documents/PDF/en/ac_domestic_tariff_en.pdf

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Well, at least now I know there are more than 78 pages. Glad I have a motorcycle.

The applicable section preamble begins with "Refund by the Carrier: for an unused ticket or portion thereof..." 

I won't press this further (it's above my pay grade) but it seems to me that the reason it was unused was by virtue of a Force Majure caveat. In the absence of specific Force Majure definition and its applicability to the fare at hand, it seems to me the CTA simply declared it to be fair. 

Clearly no one at the CTA hails from the mountain eh?

Edited by Wolfhunter

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Well, you have to understand that lawyers wrote the tariff, lawyers blessed the tariff and lawyers will no doubt interpret the tariff .  The major difference is that the CTA has the power to make such rulings.  https://www.otc-cta.gc.ca/eng/organization-and-mandate.  

Quote

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal and regulator that has, with respect to all matters necessary for the exercise of its jurisdiction, all the powers of a superior court.

 

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https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/airline-refund-policies-credit-card-chargeback-1.5598623

Would-be passengers get around airline refund policies via credit card chargebacks

 

Customers can get chargeback from credit card company if no refund or no response from airline company

If a response doesn't come within 15 days or is rebuffed, customers can call the payment card issuer and request a chargeback on the grounds that services they paid for were not rendered.

"The burden of proof is now on the carrier," Lukacs said.   

He recommends asking for a dispute adviser or an agent with a similar title in the credit card department. Clients should insist on a chargeback process even if the bank suggests the matter is between them and the airline or that the tickets were non-refundable — an irrelevant point, Lukacs said.

"You need to be really very, very assertive."

Credit cards spell out consumer rights in documents online.

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