Airlines aren’t exactly known for their customer service.
When Canadians buy a plane ticket, they know they will be crammed into tight seating, subjected to possible delays with no recourse, and will receive almost no compensation if their luggage happens to get lost or damaged. That’s pretty much the norm no matter who you fly with. And we’ve forced ourselves to deal with it, because once you get past that flight, an awesome destination usually lies at the other side.
But what if the airline managed to put a dent into your actual vacation as well? Because that seems to be exactly what’s happened to several people who flew with Sunwing recently.
Don and Angela Shewchuk were nine days away from taking off for Mexico when they received a notice informing them that the non-stop flight they paid for was no longer direct. The flight, which departs from Calgary, would now have a stop in Vancouver, which would mean one less day in Mexico for the couple.
Fortunately, they had purchased cancellation insurance beforehand. But since they cancelled less than 20 days before the departure, they didn’t receive a full refund and instead got a voucher.
Now screwed on two fronts, there was a slight glimmer of hope. The couple realized that with the stopover added to their original flight, Sunwing had dropped the price of the tickets by $1,000. They attempted to re-book the flight for the cheaper price, but the family says that Sunwing then told them it could not sell them the tickets back because they did not have price drop insurance.
Of course, price drop insurance. How could you forget that?
Two other families departing from Alberta to Puerto Vallarta at the end of March also say they suddenly had a stop in Vancouver added to their flight. In this case, it also meant their vacation time was shortened, and some passengers had to ask for additional time off work to make up for it.
“We were given no explanation, no warning, just here you are,” one of the affected passengers, Warren Rowland said. “You’re stuck with it.”
For its part, Sunwing has responded to these complaints:
“Occasionally it is necessary to amend our flight routings due to operational reasons. We cannot be liable for any additional expenditure caused by a later arrival or departure time.”
While we definitely sympathize for what those families are going through, it turns out the practice is perfectly legal.
The Canadian Transportation Agency heard a similar case where a Sunwing passengers had asked the agency to rule that adding stops to a flight after it was purchased should be illegal. But the CTA instead found that Sunwing should be allowed to add these stops as long as the possibility is stated in its tariff.
Needless to say, read those airline tickets carefully. For more information, check out the video above.