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Air Canada revises refund policy amid growing anger over cancelled flights

An Air Canada check-in area is shown at Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Saturday, May 16, 2020. Air Canada says it is bolstering its summer schedule, which nonetheless remains more than 50 per cent smaller than last year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pound the airline industry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Air Canada is revising its cancellation policy amid mounting customer frustration, offering travellers the option of a voucher with no expiry date or discount Aeroplan points if the airline cancels their flight due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline says the new policy — the previous one capped travel vouchers at 24 months — applies to non-refundable tickets issued up to the end of June, with an original travel date between March 1 and June 30.

Air Canada’s new tack comes as advocates and thousands of passengers continue to demand their money back for services they paid for but have not received.

Three petitions with more than 77,000 signatures are calling for full refunds to be implemented before financial aid is handed out to airlines, two of which were presented to the House of Commons over the past 11 days.

None of Canada’s major airlines are offering to return cash to passengers for the hundreds of thousands of flight cancellations since mid-March, opting instead for vouchers — typically with a timeline of two years.

Pressed on the issue Thursday at his daily media conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government will look at the issue further.

Airline resumes some flights to the U.S. and some international destinations

The airline also announced on Friday they are resuming some flights on routes within Canada, as well as the U.S. and other international destinations.

“Air Canada has had to abridge its selling schedule for summer 2020, with 97 destinations down from 220 last year, which nonetheless offers wide opportunities for travel and connectivity,” a news release said. “ Within Canada, the schedule will increase from 34 routes in May to 58 routes in June, with more routes added in August and September.”

For U.S. destinations, the airline said it will resume service on May 22.

“Air Canada will resume service to the U.S. on May 22, with six destinations being served by May 25, including New York-LaGuardia, Washington-Dulles, Los AngelesSan FranciscoBoston, and Chicago,” they said.  “This is a reduction from 53 U.S. destinations served last year.”

For international destinations, the airline said it will continue to operate from major international hubs starting in June.

“This includes service from Toronto to FrankfurtLondonZurichTokyo, and Tel Aviv; from Montreal to FrankfurtLondonParis and Brussels; and from Vancouver to LondonHong KongTokyo, and Seoul,” they said.





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