Lack of compensation for cancelled flights adding to travellers' frustration
The travel chaos at airports is more than just flight delays and cancellations. Now passengers are getting rejected by Air Canada for compensation.
What happened to Stephanie Schinkel recently is now common for air travellers, as her flight was cancelled just four hours before departure.
“Woke up at 6 a.m. on the 27th to catch my flight, only to find out that it had been cancelled,” says Schinkel.
Air Canada refunded the return fare, but it has been more than 30 days since Schinkel submitted a compensation request. Still no response from the airline.
“It was cancelled for staff shortages,” says Schinkel. “So they just didn’t have staff. And that's why the first flight was delayed, as well… lack of staff.”
Her flight from London, Ont. to Ottawa didn’t have enough crew to fly. She spent $340 on a train ticket to get home.
“The next flight they could offer me was 48 hours later,” says Schinkel. “So obviously I didn’t take it because I needed to get home.”
Under Canada's passenger rights charter, airlines must pay in cases of cancellation or major delays stemming from reasons within their control.
In a statement from Air Canada, they say safety is their top priority.
“This properly recognizes that the top priority for any carrier (and customers) is to operate safely and that there should be no penalties for making decisions based on safety.”
Former Chief Operating Officer of Air Canada, Duncan Dee, says airlines cannot force crew to work overtime due to safety reasons.
“You can’t force a crew member, beyond their duty day limit, to work a flight to keep it on time,” says Dee. “You can delay that flight, or you can cancel that flight. You really don’t have a choice. So, it becomes a safety issue. You can't just tell crew members, who are at the end of their duty day, to continue working to keep a flight going.”
Allen Zourani is also frustrated with Air Canada changing his flight to Germany 12 times in just 24 hours.
“It’s chaos. I think they don’t have enough staff,” says Zourani. “The delays and all these changes, 12 times they changed it is too much. One time is okay, two times is okay, but 12 times and then finally cancelled.”
Zourani still waiting for compensation.
“They were supposed to reimburse us at least a portion of the fare,” says Zourani.
As for Schinkel, she won’t be flying again anytime soon.
“We’re not booking any air travel at any point in 2022,” says Schinkel. “And possibly early 2023 until things start to get sorted out.”