Declan* and two friends were scheduled to leave in June 2020 for a trip of a lifetime to Europe. Like many other travellers, his flights were cancelled by the airline because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were really disappointed,” says Declan. On top of missing out on his much-anticipated trip, he was out nearly $2,000 in airfare and was having trouble contacting the airline. “I called. I emailed. I wanted to know about getting my refund.”
When he eventually heard back, he was told the airline was not offering refunds, only vouchers for future travel. With his work up in the air due to COVID-19, Declan was determined to get his money back. That’s when he contacted Consumer Protection BC and began to follow the necessary steps to secure a refund.
After reviewing Declan’s file and supporting documents, Consumer Protection BC investigators determined he was rightfully owed a refund under BC law. Because Declan had booked his flights online, he had entered what’s called a distance sales contract. With these types of contracts in BC, if a consumer does not get the services they paid for within 30 days of the supply date, they are within their rights to cancel their contract and receive a refund.
The investigators contacted the airline on Declan’s behalf and sent a letter demanding they comply with the law by refunding Declan the cost of his flights. After much back and forth with the investigators, the airline eventually agreed to refund Declan the full cost of his cancelled flights.
“It was a huge sense of relief,” says Declan. “When your money is tied up and you could really use it, it can be really stressful. Especially in these unprecedented times.” When asked what advice he would give to others in similar situations, Declan stressed the importance of having resolve.
“Don’t give up. Some of these companies will make you believe that you can’t get your money back. Become educated about your rights in BC and if you’re not getting anywhere, contact Consumer Protection BC. The process is long, but it’s worth it.”
*Names changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
Curious about your rights when it comes to cancelled travel plans?
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. Learn more about the process and what’s involved.
13 thoughts on “BC consumer wins fight against airline for refund ”
There is one very big omission to this story. The lack of naming the airline. This was a public company offering a service. There should be NO privacy considerations involved. That knowledge should be made available to the general public so they can act with knowledge when making a purchase.
Hi Fred, thank you for your comment. We did not name the airline in this story because that wasn’t the point of the story. We do not license or regulate airline companies but for the industries we oversee, we publish every enforcement actions we take and we clearly name businesses. Here is a link to the page where we list all recent enforcement actions.
The absolute vagueness of this article makes it seem like a made up filler article for a vapid free magazine. People are fighting and fighting hard for their rights with Canadian airlines who are behaving atrociously. This article is does the customers (and possibly yourself) a disservice.
Any chance of helping me get my refund from British Airways for a 2020 April flight they canceled? They only offered a future travel voucher which I accepted …more fool me. Visa will not refund and BA have categorically stated that because I accepted the voucher they don’t have to refund my $1300.
Hi Connie, do you live in BC? If so, you can take a look at our page outlining the refund process. I hear that British Airways is not refunding you but have you tried recently? Some airlines are handling the refund/voucher situation differently now. Please read through our information page carefully for more details and if you think you are eligible for a refund, please file a complaint to us. The online form is on the same page. Thank you, Connie!
Year 2020 when I booked my flight to PHILIPPINE AIRLINES..
Unfortunately the online seller BUDGET AIR never got their replies sooner not till after a month on trying to contact them..
Been getting their replies saying they are trying to get hold on the management and been trying their best for my end so I dont need to keep on contacting them.This is more than a year now.
Am I credited to get a refund?I live in BC
Any thoughts?and HELP?
Hi Wilma, thank you for contacting us. We have a comprehensive information page on this issue – would you be able to visit the page and see if you are eligible? If so, you can request a reversal of charges from your credit card provider. If that is also not successful, you can file a complaint to us. The online form for that is also on the same page. Thank you, Wilma.
I had to do a charge back to my C/C to get my refund from a B.C. based travel agency(Travel Best Bets) to get back over $4000.00 for flights booked with them. This was in March 2020 and the flights were cancelled by WestJet due to Covid 19. Two different agents told me that a refund was coming but then changed it to travel credits with different expiry times.
This has been an ongoing issue with Canadian Airlines and still currently going on with little media coverage. Sad for travelers in Canada.
Hi Marlene, are you still trying to get a refund for your cancelled travel plan? If so, please try getting a refund through Westjet first. You may have already tried this last year but their refund process has changed just this summer. Many people have had success getting a refund with their new process. If you are still not able to get a refund directly from Westjet, please feel free to check out our resources page on this topic. It has a lot of information so please read through the whole page. Here is the link to that.
BOOKED A FLIGHT FROM FLIGHT TROTTERS IN MONTREAL ON MAY 27 TH ,2020 WITH THEM FOR A FLIGHT FROM VANCOUVER , B.C. to PUERTO VALLARTA
MEXICO ,ON APRIL 11 TH to MAY 11 TH ,2021 . THEY BOOKED THE FLIGHT FROM AIR TRANSAT , FOR A COST OF $ 1 ,689. 98 UNTIL THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF CANADA CANCELLED ALL FLIGHT IN CANADA .AIR TRANSAT PAID REFUND OF $1 689 .98 ON MAY 12 TH ,2021 at 11 :50 PM . TO THEM ? KNOW PAYMENT TO US YET , FROM FLIGHT TROTTERS ON THIS MATTER. DATE IS COMING UP FOR KNOW REFUND OF ANY KIND
Hi Frederick, if you booked your travel online and it was the airline who cancelled the trip (not you), then you may be eligible to follow our steps for a refund. Here’s more information on how to do that: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/questions-about-travel-plans-and-covid-19/.
We booked a trip with Transat on November 25 2021 . The airline canceled the trip on December 21 2021 . Transat refunded all money paid, Manulife will not refund the money we paid for trip insurance. Does this law cover insurance companies as well?
Hi Dan, the laws we oversee at Consumer Protection BC do not apply to insurance. I’m not sure if there is a recourse for that but you may want to contact your credit card provider and see if they can provide you with a charge-back. I hope you will be able to get your money back!