Coronavirus: More infected passengers reported on flights involving B.C. airports

News provided by Global News – link to story and updates

BY SHELBY THOM GLOBAL NEWS ~ Posted April 5, 2020

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Speaking from outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the federal government has now formalized its updated rules for domestic travel across Canada. Anyone showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus will now be banned from boarding domestic flights and intercity passenger trains, the prime minister announced at a press conference March 28.

The BC Centre for Disease Control has added three more international flights and five domestic flights in the past week to its list of COVID-19 in-flight exposures involving passengers who later tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

The new international flights with a COVID-19 case on board include:

  • March 11 – Air Canada 37 Vancouver to Melbourne, rows n/a
  • March 17 – Delta (unknown flight number) Seattle to Vancouver, rows n/a
  • March 21 – Air Canada 855 London to Vancouver, rows n/a

The new domestic flights with a COVID-19 case on board include:

  • March 10 – Air Canada 102 Vancouver to Toronto, rows n/a
  • March 10 – Air Canada 416 Toronto to Montreal, rows n/a
  • March 15 – WestJet 3103 Calgary to Nanaimo, rows n/a
  • March 21 – Air Canada 8420 Vancouver to Kelowna, rows n/a
  • March 24 – Air Canada 8245 Terrace to Vancouver, rows n/a


The BCCDC says as of March 27, B.C. no longer directly contacts passengers from domestic flights who were seated near a confirmed case during the flight.

Passengers in the affected seats may have been exposed to COVID-19 and should self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days following the flight.

Other passengers are not required to self-isolate but should self-monitor for onset of symptoms for 14 days after the flight.Coronavirus outbreak: Passengers on virus-stricken cruise ships board chartered flights home

For flights with affected seats not specified, the BCCDC recommends that flight passengers self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days following the flight.

There are now 17 international flights taking off or landing at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in which a passenger tested positive for the novel coronavirus after arrival.

There are also 18 domestic flights involving Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Kamloops, Nanaimo, Terrace and Prince George airports where a passenger later tested positive for the disease.

As of March 25, it is mandatory under the Quarantine Act that anyone arriving in B.C. from outside of Canada is required to stay home for 14 days upon their arrival.Canadians stuck in Nepal look to federal government for help getting home

Returning travellers that develop respiratory symptoms are also required to self-isolate for a period of 10 days after the onset of symptoms.

For a full list of affected international and domestic flights, click here. 

For advice on self-isolation and self-monitoring, click here. 

If you believe you have COVID-19 symptoms, you’re asked to do a self-assessment.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

WestJet: 5 April Update

Received directly from WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership


Today, WestJet’s repatriation flights from Havana (HAV), Cuba and San Salvador (SAL), El Salvador to Toronto (YYZ) safely carried 344 Canadians back home after international and transborder flying ceased with the rapid advancement of COVID-19.

These flights are part of the airline’s special operations in getting Canadians from international destinations amidst the closing of borders including two flights from Port of Spain (POS), a flight from Havana (HAV) and today’s flight from San Salvador. Altogether these four flights will carry almost 700 citizens home.

In addition, between March 17 and March 25, the WestJet Group of Companies also carried approximately 10,000 Canadians from international and transborder locations.

“The WestJet Group is proud to play a part in bringing Canadians home,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “We remain committed to assisting the Government of Canada as they work to repatriate as many Canadians as possible and I thank those WestJetters who are standing up in the face of this crisis.”

These flights are part of WestJet’s efforts to care for Canadian citizens after the suspension of international service due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, WestJet is keeping critical economic lifelines open in Canada through continued operations to all the cities it currently serves with decreased frequency.

Additional flights:

  • Tuesday, April 7 from Port of Spain (POS), Trinidad and Tobago to Toronto on WestJet’s 737-800

 AFFECTED FLIGHTS – visit the blog (updated)

Airlines battling virus and consumers

News provided by the Vancouver Sun – link to story and updates

Ian Mulgrew Published 4 April 2020

UNDATED -- Receipts Marc Gage received from Air Canada for his "refund." (HANDOUT) [PNG Merlin Archive]
Receipts that Marc Gage received from from Air Canada for his ‘refund.’ / PNG

Retired CBC News-producer-turned-media-trainer Marc Gage lit up with delight when he heard a class-action lawsuit had been launched against Canadian airlines over their responses to the coronavirus crisis.

“Count me in!,” he exclaimed.

Ian Mulgrew: Airlines battling virus and consumers

Gage was still steaming about Air Canada’s brush-off and churlish cancel-or-modify ticket policy that refunded him barely $40 on a $500 trip called off because of public-health travel restrictions.

“Air Canada’s malevolence in helping Canadians through the latest plague to descend on the planet shows they are phoney hypocrites and they need to be called on it,” he fumed.

Tens-of-thousands of others agree, though for many the targets of their anger are WestJet, Swoop, Air Transat or Sunwing Airlines.

Montreal-based Champlain Lawyers launched the proposed class-action suit against all five major carriers over their responses to the outbreak. The 13-page statement of claim filed in Federal Court in Ottawa says passengers who had flights cancelled due to COVID-19 should be entitled to their money back, as well as damages.

The representative plaintiff named in the suit, Janet Donaldson, is only identified as a B.C. resident whose Vancouver-New York round trip on WestJet in April was cancelled as a result of the federal government’s March 13 blanket advisory against non-essential travel outside of Canada.

Lawyer Sébastien Paquette told reporters she had paid $361.39 on Jan. 14 by credit card for her ticket and, when she couldn’t get a refund, she was disappointed.

“This is a consumer-protection class action seeking to enforce each passenger’s rights to a refund for monies paid for their air tickets when they are not able to travel for reasons outside of the control of the passengers,” the claim states.

“Each of the defendants are experienced commercial airlines that have, or ought to have, proper contingency or financial planning to account for situations like COVID-19. In the alternative, each of the defendants ought to have acquired proper business interruption insurance policies to limit their exposure to situations like COVID-19.”

UNDATED -- Receipts Marc Gage received from Air Canada for his
Receipt Marc Gage received from Air Canada for his ‘refund.’ /PNG

The claim names Swoop, WestJet, Air Canada, Air Transat and Sunwing, and says Donaldson wants the case heard in Vancouver.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) initially said the airlines didn’t have to give refunds if a cancellation was outside its control. But the advocacy group Air Passenger Rights complained, saying it was creating “the false impression of a legally binding determination by the CTA” that misleads consumers about their rights.

The CTA emphasized on its site that the Air Passenger Protection Regulations remained in force and unchanged.

“The CTA recognizes that this is a very challenging time for both airlines and air passengers,” said Scott Streiner, its chairman and CEO. “We’ll continue to monitor the situation closely.”

To participate in the class-action, a passenger must have purchased a ticket before March 11 for a flight to be taken after March 13.

Other litigation is expected to be filed against the airlines, who are struggling to survive the crisis by laying off workers and adopting austerity measures.

Many would-be travellers across Canada have been denied refunds as flight cancellations mount because of travel restrictions and other constraints caused by the novel coronavirus.

Those without travel insurance were generally offered a travel credit, good for 24 months, and many are angry the airlines are keeping their money.

Gage and his wife planned a trip to Yukon leaving in late May but the virus squelched that plan. They called the hotels and B&Bs — nothing but understanding.

“We got our money back without any muss or fuss,” Gage said.

UNDATED -- Receipts Marc Gage received from Air Canada for his
Receipt Marc Gage received from Air Canada for his ‘refund.’ /PNG

He felt confident he’d get the same treatment from Air Canada — it ballyhooed its intention to treat customers fairly.

“We originally paid $555.98 for both of us, a great deal,” Gage explained. “I called to cancel but was told because I had booked economy class they would charge me $512.42 in refund charges leaving me with $42!”

He asked the airline clerk on the phone if that was a joke.

“She told me, ‘I am only repeating what the policy is Mr. Gage. I agree with you entirely but there is nothing I can do to help you.’

“Totally understandable,” Gage added. “She is just paid help, answering the phone.”

In an email, Air Canada media relations said the details of the policy are posted on the company’s website. It was offering passengers credit good for future travel, valid for 24 months from the date their flight was cancelled.

But if a customer was changing an existing booking (as opposed to buying a new ticket), then the situation was different, the media email noted. It said the company was waiving some of the fees normally charged on lower-priced tickets for such changes. But …

“In those cases, customers could incur extra charges because we are still applying our normal fare rules,” Air Canada said. “We recommend customers who have concerns to write our customer relations department and ask for a review.”

Gage laughed.

“Talk about taking advantage and ripping off people in a time of crisis. I’m sure there are thousands like me,” he said.

The class-action hasn’t been certified and none of the claims have been proven in court.

Westjet: 4 April Update

Received directly from WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership

4 April 2020


Today, 172 Canadians are back on Canadian soil after arriving in Toronto from Port of Spain (POS), Trinidad and Tobago this evening.  

The charter was WestJet’s first repatriation flight in collaboration with the Government of Canada.  

Said Captain Koko Gillis, “It was a good feeling to be able to welcome all of these citizens on board and know they are finally getting home. I felt honoured to be a part of this operation on behalf of WestJet.” 

These flights are part of WestJet’s efforts to care for Canadian citizens after the suspension of international service due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to repatriation flights, WestJet is keeping critical economic lifelines open in Canada through continued operations to all the cities it currently serves with decreased frequency.  

Additional flights: 

·         Sunday, April 5, from Havana, Cuba to Toronto on WestJet’s 737-800  

·         Sunday, April 5, from San Salvador (SAL), El Salvador to Toronto on WestJet’s 737-800 

·         Tuesday, April 7 from Port of Spain (POS), Trinidad and Tobago to Toronto on WestJet’s 737-800 

AFFECTED FLIGHTS – visit the blog (updated) 

·         We have made updates to our affected flights blog, the changes now enable you to search by city  

·         We appreciate your continued assistance in sharing these updates with the public. 

·         All information on affected flights remains posted here: 

More flights suspended at Charlottetown airport because of COVID-19

News provided by CBC News – link to story and updates

Air Canada will be suspending flights between Charlottetown and Halifax starting Monday

CBC News · Posted: Apr 03, 2020

An Air Canada flight prepares for takeoff at the Charlottetown airport in January 2020. (John Robertson/CBC)


More suspensions to flights travelling to and from Prince Edward Island were announced Friday as the airline industry across Canada deals with the effects of COVID-19.

Air Canada announced the service between Charlottetown and Halifax will be suspended from April 6 until June 1, 2020.

Flight service between Toronto and Charlottetown has been suspended until June 1 as well.

A spokesperson with Air Canada told CBC News the flights have been reduced because of “low demand.”

Starting on Monday, Air Canada will only operate one daily flight between Charlottetown and Montreal.

WestJet continues to operate a direct flight between Charlottetown and Toronto three days a week.

Passenger travel down 90 per cent

Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority, said the airport is very quiet, with passenger travel down by about 90 per cent.

“A little over a month ago we were looking at terminal expansions and challenges this summer in terms of how we were going to get people through the airport … we were looking at a banner year for the Charlottetown Airport Authority and the tourism industry,” he said.

“It feels like overnight that has done a 180. It’s certainly stressful times, but we’re not alone in this obviously.” 

The Charlottetown Airport Authority says travellers should check airline websites for any further schedule changes. (John Robertson/CBC)

He said the pandemic will take a financial toll on the airport, ranging in the millions of dollars. Newson said last April there was an average of up to 750 passengers coming through the terminal a day.

“Over the past week, we’ve had about 75,” he said.

The federal government has announced help so far by waiving rent for airports that pay Transport Canada.

But Newson said those payments are based on revenue and may mean only about $5,000 in savings for the Charlottetown airport.

The airport plans to defer capital projects and will look at other ways to cut costs.

Newson said it is hard to predict the future in these unprecedented times but understands people, businesses and industries are impacted all over.

He said some of the smaller airports have already seen cancellations of all flights. If the pandemic continues for too long, Newson said, that could happen in Charlottetown as well.

With files from Wayne Thibodeau

WestJet: 3 April Update

Received directly from WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership


WestJet, in collaboration with the Government of Canada, has added two more repatriation flights to return an additional 348 Canadian citizens home from these areas. Flights are available for booking on now.

The repatriation flights are planned to operate as follows:

  • Sunday, April 5 from San Salvador (SAL), El Salvador to Toronto on WestJet’s 737-800
  • Tuesday, April 7 from Port of Spain (POS), Trinidad and Tobago to Toronto on WestJet’s 737-800

As previously announced, this weekend WestJet will bring home 346 Canadian citizens on its first two repatriation flights in collaboration with the Government of Canada. Flights will operate from Havana, Cuba (Sunday, April 5) and Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (Saturday, April 4) to Toronto. Please follow WestJet’s social channels for information.

WestJet thanks its flight and cabin crews and the agents at the airports, all of whom are committed to continuing to serve Canadians, along with our mechanics, flight dispatchers and our network team who are keeping us safely flying.

These flights are part of WestJet’s efforts to care for Canadian citizens after the suspension of international service due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to repatriation, WestJet is keeping critical economic lifelines open in Canada through continued operations to all the cities it currently serves at a reduced frequency.

WestJet: 1 April Update

Provided directly from WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership


The safety of our guests and WestJetters has and continues to be our top priority. In these uncertain times, we continue to make important changes to our business and operations, for the safety and peace of mind of all.

Moving forward, from now until May 4, 2020, the middle seat on our Boeing 737s and 787 aircraft and every other seat on our Bombardier Q400 will be unavailable to book.

We’ve made this change to ensure our guests and crew can continue to fly safely and have more space to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

As we navigate our way through the COVID-19 crisis together, we are also encouraging our guests to follow these guidelines while boarding and on our aircraft:

  • Keeping 2 meters (6ft) of distance between the guest in front and behind when boarding 
  • Using the WestJet App to download boarding passes to display on phones
  • Using the disinfectant wipes provided during boarding to wipe down seats and table trays
  • Avoid lining up for washrooms

WestJet remains focused on the health and safety of our employees and guests as well as maintaining essential domestic service to the Canadian communities we serve. We hold ourselves to the highest standard to create an environment as clean as realistically possible and continue to expand and enhance our sanitization measures onboard to keep our guests and crew safe. More information is available here

Read more about seat distancing on the WestJet Blog here

AFFECTED FLIGHTS – visit the blog (updated) 

Canada’s airline, tourism sectors facing ‘catastrophic’ decline due to COVID-19 pandemic

News provided by CBC News – link to story and updates

Airline lobby group warns that, without aid, companies will fold and thousands more will be laid off

John Paul Tasker · CBC News · Posted: Apr 01, 2020

An Air Canada employee works at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Friday, March 20, 2020. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

As Canada’s aviation and tourism sectors face a decline of epic proportions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government is preparing an aid package to save an industry that employs well over 2 million Canadians.

The lobby group that represents dozens of air carriers in this country is warning that, without immediate support from Ottawa, airlines will fold, thousands more will be out of work and the travel landscape in this country will be crippled for the foreseeable future.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said help is on the way — but it can’t come soon enough for an industry bleeding cash.

“We recognize there are certain industries that have been extremely hard hit by both the drop in oil prices and the COVID-19 challenge, whether it’s airlines or oil and gas or tourism,” Trudeau told reporters Tuesday when asked about the prospect of support.

“There are significant areas where we’re going to have to do more. And as I’ve said from the very beginning, we will be doing more.”

Airports across the country are virtually empty as travellers heed the warnings of public health officials to stay home and avoid all non-essential international and domestic travel to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

“The impact of all this is just devastating. People aren’t flying at all or capacity is at 10, 15 per cent. Nobody can sustain that for very much longer, that’s for sure,” John McKenna, president of the Air Transport Association of Canada, told CBC News.

“We’re eagerly awaiting an aviation-specific plan but we haven’t heard anything. We have no idea what’s coming.”

A Porter Airlines plane lands next to a taxiing aircraft at Toronto’s Island Airport. Porter Airlines says it is temporarily suspending all flights as part of the public health effort to contain COVID-19. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

His organization represents both large and small airlines, including Porter — which has grounded its entire operation— leisure carrier Sunwing and more than a dozen regional operators that serve rural and remote communities.

McKenna said that some carriers won’t make it through this crisis. He warned that the damage to the industry will only increase while it waits for the federal government to act.

‘Help us out here’

He said the promised wage subsidies for all businesses will help but his organization is also looking for interest-free loans to provide carriers with some much-needed capital.

He’s also asking that certain government fees and surcharges be waived so the companies can stay afloat. He asked that planned changes to the Canada Labour Code — including new rules for rest periods — be deferred to lessen the regulatory burden.

“Give us a break on everything else while we concentrate on surviving. Help us out here,” McKenna said.

He said some airlines were already in “dire straits” before COVID-19 hit, as carriers had to park their Boeing 737 MAX jets while still paying purchase agreement loans. The 737 Max was grounded worldwide a year ago after an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed outside of the capital Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people onboard.

The blanket travel ban means some debt-laden companies will shutter operations altogether.

“You’re telling people not to fly. You can’t just leave us hanging like that,” McKenna said.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced Tuesday that Ottawa would be waiving rent payments for 21 of the country’s airports between March and December 2020.

In Canada, most major airports are operated by independent, non-profit authorities, but the land on which these airports sit is still owned by the federal government. With fewer people flying and paying fees, making the rent is a challenge.

Morneau said the rental reprieve recognizes that the air transportation industry has “suffered tremendously.”

That measure will save airport authorities about $331 million a year in rent payments. But that does little for the national and regional air carriers that fly through them.

“I’d be surprised if we saw any of that,” McKenna said.

A passenger makes her way to the check-in at Trudeau International Airport Monday, March 30, 2020 in Montreal. The federal government is waiving the monthly rent paid by airport authorities to Ottawa for the rest of the year as revenues plummet due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Larger air carriers like Air Canada and Air Transat have been pressed into service to rescue Canadians stranded abroad by travel restrictions driven by the pandemic’s spread, but revenue from other operations has all but evaporated.

Air Canada, one of the world’s largest airlines, is in the midst of a system-wide shutdown that will result in a stunning 85 to 90 per cent reduction in capacity compared to the same period last year. Starting today, dozens of flights to the U.S. or international destinations will be grounded.

Nearly 17,000 of its employees have been temporarily laid off as the airline tries to protect its balance sheet and avoid bankruptcy. Beyond a few “air bridges” to locations overseas, Air Canada is a fraction of the size it was only a month ago. The company’s share price has declined by some 70 per cent from its high in January.

“To furlough such a large proportion of our employees is an extremely painful decision but one we are required to take given our dramatically smaller operations for the next while,” said Calin Rovinescu, president and CEO of Air Canada.

WestJet, the country’s second largest carrier, has also halted all international operations and is running some of its domestic flights with greatly reduced capacity at a time when demand has never been lower.

WestJet has laid off 7,000 employees and has cancelled virtually all planned capital investments for the year.

“This is devastating news for all WestJetters,” said Ed Sims, WestJet president and CEO, in a statement to reporters announcing the layoffs.

‘It’s the pits’

Major hotels, like Ottawa’s iconic Château Laurier, have temporarily closed while others are welcoming fewer than a dozen guests each night.

Tony Elenis, president of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association, said hotels are dealing with “a catastrophic” drop in business.

“It’s the pits,” Elenis said.

Some hotels have been asked by provincial health authorities to house some patients in the future as hospital capacity becomes increasingly limited, but the rates will be lower than what they could get from a regular traveller, Elenis said.

Regardless, it could be a much-needed source of revenue at a time when properties sit vacant, he said.

A man jogs past the Chateau Laurier hotel in Ottawa. The hotel announced it will temporarily suspend operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada, said Tuesday that governments across the country are readying hotel rooms and other “alternative sites” to house non-COVID-19 patients or those with milder symptoms.

Quebec already has rented out a Quality Inn in Laval, Que. for this very purpose, with other sites expected to come online soon as the province grapples with the country’s largest caseload.

“We’re gearing up to accommodate patients. All of us should be working in any way we can to support those who are getting rid of this virus. A lot of hotel managers really want to support this,” Elenis said.

Tourism Minister Mélanie Joly did not respond to requests for comment. 

WestJet: 31 March Update

Provided directly from WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership

Impacted Flights – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last updated March 31, 2020 at 5:55 p.m.

The safety of our guests and crews is our top priority. It is our goal to be open and transparent throughout this rapidly evolving situation. This page will be updated regularly with information on COVID-19 impacted flights in our network.

Guests in affected rows of the below flights are considered close contacts and may be at risk for exposure. Public health officials recommend that affected individuals self-isolate for 14 days after arrival and monitor symptoms. Guests are advised to contact their primary care provider, or their local public health unit if they are concerned that they may have been exposed to or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

All guests who were on the listed flights, but not in the affected rows are advised to self-monitor for signs of cough, fever or respiratory issues and to call their local health authorities if symptoms arise within the next 14 days.Show 10255090100 entriesSearch:

Flight DateFlight NumberDepartingDestinationRows
March 213241Calgary (YYC)Kamloops (YKA)All seats
March 1910Calgary (YYC)Paris (CDG)N/A
March 19831Cancun (CUN)Toronto (YYZ)1-6
March 183380Calgary (YYC)Saskatoon (YXE)17-20
March 172313Cancun (CUN)Calgary (YYC)Exit row
March 17669Toronto (YYZ)Calgary (YYC)20-24
March 172311Cancun (CUN)Toronto (YYZ)Premium cabin
March 173281Calgary (YYC)Penticton (YYF)All seats
March 174London (LGW)Toronto (YYZ)All rows
March 173343Calgary (YYC)Kelowna (YLW)Exit row
March 169Paris (CDG)Calgary (YYC)2-6
March 162311Cancun (CUN)Calgary (YYC)All seats
March 163456Toronto (YYZ)Moncton (YQM)All seats
March 151571Denver (DEN)Calgary (YYC)All seats
March 153016Medicine Hat (YHX)Calgary (YYC)8-14
March 153372Calgary (YYC)Saskatoon (YXE)All seats
March 143268Edmonton (YEG)Regina (YQR)5-11
March 143300Calgary (YYC)Regina (YQR)14-20
March 14202Calgary (YYC)Winnipeg (YWG)19-25
March 141511Los Angeles (LAX)Calgary (YYC)15-19
March 131501Las Vegas (LAS)Calgary (YYC)13-19
March 131100Toronto (YYZ)Los Angeles (LAX)All seats
March 12490Winnipeg (YWG)Toronto (YYZ)5-9
March 12667Toronto (YYZ)Calgary (YYC)11-17
March 122London (LGW)Calgary (YYC)24-40
March 121447Las Vegas (LAS)Edmonton (YEG)2-8
March 12665Toronto (YYZ)Calgary (YYC)19-27
March 121201New York (LGA)Toronto (YYZ)3-9
March 122311Cancun (CUN)Calgary (YYC)32-38
March 123240Edmonton (YEG)Grande Prairie (YQU)1-6
March 12118Vancouver (YVR)Calgary (YYC)19-25
March 114London (LGW)Toronto (YYZ)10-16
March 111771Phoenix (PHX)Vancouver (YVR)5-9
March 113263Regina (YQR)Edmonton (YEG)12-18
March 11302Vancouver (YVR)Regina (YQR)5-9
March 11670Calgary (YYC)Toronto (YYZ)16-22
March 10232Calgary (YYC)Winnipeg (YWG)17-23
March 103538Toronto (YYZ)Montreal (YUL)3-8
March 103326Vancouver (YVR)Kelowna (YLW)10-16
March 10445Toronto (YYZ)Calgary (YYC)6-12
March 104London (LGW)Toronto (YYZ)N/A
March 91681New York (JFK)Calgary (YYC)all rows
March 9178Kelowna (YLW)Calgary (YYC)Exit row
March 92310Calgary (YYC)Cancun (CUN)all seats
March 92643Liberia (LIR)Toronto (YYZ)N/A
March 8271Winnipeg (YWG)Calgary (YYC)All Rows
March 81680Calgary (YYC)New York (JFK)All rows
March 71226Toronto (YYZ)Orlando (MCO)All rows
March 71157San Juan (SJU)Toronto (YYZ)2-6
March 72644Toronto (YYZ)Liberia (LIR)N/A
March 73440Toronto (YYZ)Moncton (YQM)7-11
March 52London (LGW)Calgary (YYC)36-40
March 32London (LGW)Calgary (YYC)7-14
February 281199Phoenix (PHX)Toronto (YYZ)18-22
March 21535Toronto (YYZ)Winnipeg (YWG)All seats
March 213324Vancouver (YVR)Kelowna (YLW)All seats
March 20195Calgary (YYC)Victoria (YYJ)All seats
March 201591Atlanta (ATL)Calgary (YYC)12-19
March 18600Calgary (YYC)Saskatoon (YXE)18-24
March 183380Calgary (YYC)Saskatoon (YXE)17-20
March 182310Calgary (YYC)Cancun (CUN)1-6
March 171499Phoenix (PHX)Calgary (YYC)2-8
March 161221Fort Lauderdale (FLL)Toronto (YYZ)All seats
March 161789Las Vegas (LAS)Vancouver (YVR)All seats
March 162London (LGW)Calgary (YYC)8-14
March 161201New York (LGA)Toronto (YYZ)2-8
March 163300Calgary (YYC)Regina (YQR)All seats
March 169Paris (CDG)Calgary (YYC)2-6
March 151231Fort Lauderdale (FLL)Toronto (YYZ)6-12
March 153256Calgary (YYC)Brandon (YBR)All seats
March 15252Toronto (YYZ)Halifax (YHZ)12-18
March 151681New York (JFK)Calgary (YYC)11-17
March 144209Paris (CDG)Calgary (YYC)12-18
March 142London (LGW)Calgary (YYC)All seats
March 14526Calgary (YYC)Winnipeg (YWG)19-25
March 14323Toronto (YYZ)Saskatoon (YXE)17-20
March 121475Palm Springs (PSP)Calgary (YYC)10-16
March 12122Vancouver (YVR)Calgary (YYC)4-10
March 12530Calgary (YYC)Winnipeg (YWG)5-11
March 11452Calgary (YYC)Saskatoon (YXE)All seats
March 102643Liberia (LIR)Toronto (YYZ)7-13
March 102313Cancun (CUN)Calgary (YYC)All seats
March 10135Calgary (YYC)Vancouver (YVR)All seats
March 81333Las Vegas (LAS)Regina (YQR)3-9
March 72419Cancun (CUN)Saskatoon (YXE)17-24
March 6546Winnipeg (YWG)Toronto (YYZ)8-14
March 2735London (YXU)Calgary (YYC)5-11
March 13521Montreal (YUL)Toronto (YYZ)All seats
March 1659Toronto (YYZ)Calgary (YYC)All seats

Class action launched after airlines give vouchers, not refunds for cancelled trips

News provided by CBC News – link to story and updates

Suit targets major Canadian airlines and travel companies, could affect hundreds of thousands of people

Yvonne Colbert · CBC News · Posted: Mar 31, 2020

Airlines have slashed routes during the pandemic and cancelled many flights as the Canadian government urges people to avoid all non-essential travel outside the country. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

A British Columbia woman is launching a class-action lawsuit against several major Canadian airlines and travel companies over their decision to issue credits and vouchers instead of refunds for flights and vacations cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legal action by Janet Donaldson, whose Vancouver-New York round trip on WestJet in April was cancelled, was filed last week in Federal Court against Swoop, WestJet, Air Canada, Air Transat and Sunwing. The suit has not been certified.

Sébastien Paquette, a Montreal lawyer representing passengers in the suit, said Donaldson paid by credit card and was “disappointed” when she could not get a refund, “which she was allowed to receive by law.”

“This is a consumer-protection class action seeking to enforce each passenger’s rights to a refund for monies paid for their air tickets, when they are not able to travel for reasons outside of the control of the passengers,” the statement of claim said.

It said companies should not be permitted to keep passengers’ money for an indefinite period of time, whether they want to travel in the future or not. The class action applies to an unknown number of passengers, but it’s estimated it could affect hundreds of thousands of people.

It includes anyone “residing anywhere in the world” who has not received a refund and who bought a ticket with one of the companies before March 11 for a trip scheduled between March 13 and whenever the federal government withdraw’s COVID-19 travel advisories.

Airlines defend vouchers

Airlines have slashed routes during the pandemic and cancelled many flights as the Canadian government urges people to avoid all non-essential travel outside the country. Many passengers have been frustrated at being offered travel vouchers instead of refunds.

Paquette said part of the claim is asking that the money paid for the cancelled tickets be placed with the court until the case is settled.

Westjet was among the companies named in the class-action lawsuit. (Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images)

“We want to secure the class members their money. At this point it literally is their money, so there’s no reason it should be kept in the airlines’ accounts,” Paquette said.

Air Canada and WestJet did not respond to requests for comment before publication and Swoop had no comment. Sunwing said the decision “to suspend all flights was made as a last resort, in response to the exceptional circumstances faced across the industry and around the world.”

In an email, Air Transat’s vice-president of human resources and corporate affairs, Christophe Hennebelle, said the situation “has placed an extraordinary burden on the industry, which puts its very existence into question.”

He said the company believes “that in such a force majeure situation, way beyond our span of control, we do not have to issue a full refund for travels that have not been completed.”

He called the 24-month credit voucher “an acceptable solution,” saying Italy, Belgium, France and the U.K. have passed legislation to “secure that solution.”

‘It’s the right thing to be done’

Paquette said the airlines are forcing people to fly at a later date, when they may not wish to travel and could face a “substantially different price.” He points out the companies are saving money on fuel and other operating expenses because of the cancelled flights.

The lawsuit is being welcomed by people like Halifax resident Katie Gillis, one of those denied a refund after Sunwing cancelled vacations she, her fiancé and 30 others planned in Mexico for her wedding. Collectively, they spent more than $57,000 on the trip.

Katie Gillis of Halifax was denied a refund after the trip she had planned to Mexico for her wedding was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted by Katie Gillis)

“I’m super-pleased to hear that,” Gillis said of the lawsuit. “It’s the right thing to be done.” 

Class-action lawsuits can take years to wind their way through the courts unless the defendants agree to a settlement. Paquette said he can’t predict how the companies will respond, but lawyers are preparing in the event it goes to a trial.

“We feel that this is wrong and class members should definitely get their money back,” he said.

Those who were denied a refund during the specified period are automatically qualified as part of the class action and do not have to do anything at this point.

Paquette is urging people to keep their documentation, including ticket bookings, charges and emails, since it may be required in the future to prove a claim.

None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven in court.