Several Canadian airlines have come under fire in recent months following a surge in flight delays and cancellations.
Most notably, however, Sunwing garnered significant attention following a system-wide outage caused by a cyberattack. Thousands of Canadians were stranded in sun destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America as a result of the outage.
Travellers are also expressing frustration and outrage after lengthy waits at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) have resulted in delayed or missed flights.
Numerous passengers say they recently missed flights or came close to missing them despite arriving hours in advance of their departure time. Several of them say one of the security areas was closed, creating longer wait times.
And while many delays and flight cancellations are outside of an airline's control, others are economic decisions.
When are Canadian carriers required to compensate passengers?
Dr. Gábor Lukács is the founder and president of Air Passenger Rights (APR) — a group that gives airline customers information about their rights so they are capable of enforcing them against airlines. He told Vancouver Is Awesome in a previous phone interview that Canadians are frequently taken advantage of by airlines because they aren't aware of the rules.
While there are some circumstances that the airlines cannot prevent, many cancellations "are simply economic decisions," he explained. "If not the vast majority of them."
If an airline cancels a flight because it is undersold, customers are entitled to compensation or to be booked on another flight.
When it comes to cancellations within the airline's control, the company is responsible for booking the passenger on another flight or issuing them a refund. But, as the air passenger rights expert points out, "The choice, whether to re-book to get a refund, is the passenger's. This is a key point because airlines cannot force refunds on passengers."
But if a passenger is informed of the delay within 14 days before the departure time that is indicated on their original ticket, APPR's subsection 19(1) states that they are entitled to monetary compensation, but only if it is for reasons other than safety-related ones. This is why it is critical to check the differences between your original ticket and the one that you eventually fly on.
If a major Canadian carrier delays a flight for over three hours, passengers are entitled to $400 compensation, even though they are still booked on the same flight. For over six hours, they are entitled to $700 and for over nine hours, they are entitled to $1,000. These figures are significantly less for small carriers, however.
In regard to Sunwing passengers, the Air Passenger Protection page highlights on its website that the carrier has stated publicly that "all impacted passengers with flight delays over three hours will be compensated." The compensation also applies for flights cancelled less than 12 hours prior to scheduled departure.
Sunwing has provided a link for those passengers to make a claim for compensation.
Find out everything B.C. residents need to know about flight cancellations, refunds, and baggage claims.