The country’s two major airlines are in a Twitter fight over which one was the first to offer refunds to passengers for cancelled flights.
The social-media spat though isn’t much comfort to customers.
Soon after WestJet announced Wednesday that it would start providing refunds to passengers who had their flights cancelled by the airline as a result of COVID-19, Air Canada on Twitter accused WestJet of making a misleading statement about being the first to do so.
Air Canada claims it had already issued more than a billion dollars in refunds, then it was back to WestJet saying its refunds were for all ticket types.
Misleading statement! @WestJet is just now catching up to our policy to refund refundable fares. We have already refunded over $1.2 Billion in refundable fares to date.
— Air Canada (@AirCanada) October 21, 2020
For consumers, it’s just another chapter in a frustrating year waiting for cash.
Many of the offers had previously been credits for future travel, and still the wait drags on as WestJet says it’ll start contacting eligible passengers whose flights were cancelled early next month.
Refunds could take six to nine months time.
Airline analysts claim it’s not just about goodwill, rather, it may be a pre-condition on getting financial assistance from Ottawa.
Passenger Rights Advocate Gabor Lukacs said the six to nine months WestJet estimates it will take to process refund requests is excessive, calling it “ridiculous” and a “non-starter.”
Certification hearings on a class action against WestJet, Air Canada and Transat A.T. are to begin in federal court on November 2, the same day WestJet’s policy goes into effect.
Those eligible for refunds will be contacted directly by email for further instructions. We expect there will be an administrative backlog and ask for your patience as we work through requests as quickly as possible.
— WestJet (@WestJet) October 21, 2020