June 7, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

Complete Canadian News World

We need to tighten policy against air carriers, says expert

We need to tighten policy against air carriers, says expert

As hundreds of Canadians head home after their Sunwing flights to Mexico were canceled last week, a passenger rights advocate says stranded travelers should consider legal action if they are not compensated by the air carrier.

Gabor Lukács, chairman and founder of the Air Passenger Rights Group, recommends passengers who are troubled by canceled flights and who don’t have enough information about when they will be put on another flight should buy their own return tickets from another carrier and keep their expense receipts handy.

They argued in an interview with The Canadian Press that if Sunwing refuses to compensate them under federal air passenger protection regulations, they should take the case to small claims court.

“We’ve reached the point where suing an airline in Canada isn’t just about money, it’s about changing the way they operate. He said that if they want to change, they should be brought forward. This is where the government has failed in its duty to the people. »

Lukács said passengers should also call their local MP’s office and demand better enforcement of passenger rights in Canada.

Last Sunday, hundreds of Canadian passengers were stranded in Cancun, Mexico after Sunwing canceled their return flights. Some described being dragged from hotel to hotel, sometimes arriving to find there was no room reserved for them, while Sunwing officials provided inaccurate and incomplete information about when they could go home.

Stuck in Puerto Vallarta

Sheldon de Souza faced a similar situation in Puerto Vallarta, on Mexico’s west coast. He flew there on December 14 with his wife, three children and three family friends, and his return trip was scheduled for December 21 with Sunwing.

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Although only a few passengers were informed, the flight was cancelled, he pointed out.

He and a group of other passengers were transferred to different hotels and told to report to reception every hour if there was news of an available flight. However, the information they give is unclear, or has to be changed at the last minute.

Mr. De Souza finally booked a seat on an Air Canada flight to Calgary on Dec. 23, which cost him about $1,000. His wife, children and their friends were able to catch a Sunwing flight home on Monday, but they started showing up at the airport asking for seats.

The young family was able to get seats on a Sunwing flight to Edmonton late Sunday, Christmas Day, but when they arrived at the gate, officials announced that the crew had exceeded their hours. Maximum work allowed and flight cancelled.

“It’s like Sunwing has abandoned us, they don’t care,” Mr de Souza denied. It’s not like they tried to forget us. »

Compensation up to $1000

Federal Air Passenger Protection Regulations require airlines to pay up to $1,000 in compensation for cancellations or long delays arising from causes within the carrier’s control, when notice is given 14 days or less before departure.

Mr Lukács, of the Air Passenger Rights Group, believes Sunwing is unlikely to pay voluntarily. The Canadian Transportation Agency, which acts as the airline regulator, isn’t doing enough to hold airlines accountable, so they don’t feel much pressure to comply, he said.

Neither Sunwing nor the Canadian Transportation Agency immediately responded to a request for comment.

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Sunwing said in an email Sunday that flights were canceled due to bad weather and that it was doing everything to get passengers home “in the coming days.”