Looking for a refund for travel services that were cancelled by your airline, cruise line or other travel provider? Here are some of the most common questions we get on this topic along with our answers.
What you need to know
After over a year of cancelled travel plans, many consumers have had issues getting refunds from travel suppliers. As a BC regulator, one of the laws we oversee gives you cancellation and refund rights when you don’t receive the services you paid for online or over the phone. If you’re eligible, you may be owed a refund under BC law.
There’s a lot to know, and a number of steps to follow to get your refund, so we recommend you start by reading this page: COVID-19 and refunds for cancelled travel.
Read it carefully, as it has detailed information about eligibility, what forms to use, and the steps needed to request a refund properly. Please be aware that the laws we oversee when it comes to these transactions are very specific and not everyone will be eligible to go through the process for a refund.
Still have questions? Here are some answers.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What if I cancelled my travel plans myself?
A: If you cancelled the travel plans yourself, you are not eligible to go through our refund process. If your travel service was available to you, but you decided not to go, the cancellation and refund laws we oversee do not apply. In these cases, we would suggest you try and reach a solution with the business based on what their cancellation policy allows.
Q: What if I cancelled my travel plans because of the Government travel restrictions?
A: You are not eligible to go through our process for a refund if the travel service was available to you and you decided not to travel – even if it was because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. In these cases, you are bound to the cancellation policy you signed when you booked the travel. Review the cancellation policy to find out what the terms and conditions of your contract allow.
Q: The travel provider I booked with is not based in BC. Do they have to follow these rules?
A: If businesses are doing business with people who live in BC, they must follow the laws in our province. If you live in BC, you can follow our process for a refund, assuming you meet the other eligibility requirements.
Q: What if I don’t live in BC?
A: If you don’t live in BC but booked your travel with a BC-based travel provider, they are required to follow the laws of this province. You can follow our process for a refund, assuming you meet the other eligibility requirements.
Q: The travel supplier (airline, hotel, cruise, etc.) has given me a voucher. Does that count as a refund?
A: It depends. Here are some examples where a voucher is permissible, meaning you would not be eligible to go through our refund process: The travel supplier had a promotion or incentive of some kind to take a voucher and you agreed to it. Or you and the travel supplier agreed over email that a voucher was an acceptable resolution.
Generally speaking, if you have had a voucher forced on you as a substitute to the travel services you bought and you did not indicate that you accept the voucher, you may still be able to go through our process to claim a refund. For example, a situation where the supplier cancelled your travel plans and simply put a voucher into your travel account (despite you wanting a refund). Depending on each circumstance, we may not deem that to be consent.
If you are eligible for a refund under our laws, have been actively pursuing a refund from the business, and have followed the necessary steps, you must be refunded in the same way you paid.
Q: If I am owed a refund by the business, do I get all the fees back too?
A: Yes, if you are eligible, you should get a full refund. This includes all fees, charges, taxes and interest that may have been charged.
Q: The travel provider says that their policy does not allow for refunds/full refunds. Can they refuse me a full refund?
A: If you are eligible for a refund under the distance sales law, it does not matter what the business’s refund/cancellation policy is – you should still receive a full refund.
Q: My travel agent is keeping their commission/charging me a fee for cancellation. Is this allowed?
A: No. If you are eligible for a refund and followed the proper steps, your travel agent is required to provide a full refund to you. They cannot withhold their commissions or charge you fees. If they are not following the rules around this, you can submit a complaint to our office.
Q: The travel provider offered me different dates in place of the original travel plans (such as a different flight), but that won’t work for me. Can I get a refund?
A: If the business offered alternate dates within 30 days of the original travel or before you cancelled your contract (through our refund process), they are considered to have provided the service according to the law (even if that timeline does not work for you). The contract is still fulfilled, and you would have no ability to exercise cancellation and refunds rights under our laws.
Going through our refund process
The process includes three parts, officially cancelling your contract with the suppliers, if that doesn’t work then you try to get a reversal of charges from your credit card provider, and if you are still unsuccessful, you can submit a complaint to us.
Q: I’ve already tried to get my money back from the business – do I have to go through the whole process again by using your forms?
A: Yes – to go through our process for a refund, you must follow all the steps on our website. We recommend you use our official forms, even if you’ve already tried to get your money back from the business. This is because what you send to the business/credit card provider needs to include very specific information to be legal and our forms make sure that all that is covered. This gives you the best chance of getting a refund.
Q: I booked my travel plans through a booking platform/travel agency. Who should I cancel my contract with– the booking platform/travel agency OR the airline/hotel/business providing the travel services?
A: To cover your bases, we suggest sending our contract cancellation form to both suppliers. If you get to the stage where you need to submit a complaint to our office, when we ask for the name of the supplier, use the airline/cruise line/hotel (the business that was ultimately providing the services).
Q: How long will this process take?
A: The refund process has several steps and each one has required waiting times. This means that getting your refund this way can take months. If your travel supplier has a new refund process in place, like Air Canada, we suggest you try that first before coming to us.
Starting the process for a refund
Do you think you’re eligible for a refund for cancelled travel plans? Learn more and start the refund process.
Other resources on this topic
About Consumer Protection BC
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.