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.