B.C. travel agent loses $5K after Air Canada cancels flights | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. travel agent loses $5K after Air Canada cancels flights

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/AIR CANADA
February 28, 2021 - 10:00 AM

A small B.C. travel agent has found itself $5,000 out of pocket over a cancelled Air Canada flight and a credit card refund.

The case involves a B.C. couple who went through their credit card company to get a refund for an Air Canada flight, cancelled due to the pandemic.

While the credit card company issued a refund for the flights, the money ultimately came from the travel agent who booked the flight.

According to a Feb. 24 Civil Resolution Tribunal decision, Harman Preet Singh Waraich and Sandeep Kaur Waraich paid Sohi Vacations $6,597 for return air travel for their family of four from Vancouver to India.

The family left for India in February 2020 but had their March flight back to Canada cancelled due to the pandemic. The Waraiches then paid another $1,700 to reschedule the flight which was again cancelled.

Eventually, after being in India for an extra two months, they paid $6,550 and flew back to Canada.

The Waraiches then asked Sohi Vacations for a 50 per cent refund as it had only flown them one way.

However, the travel agent refused, saying it was up to Air Canada who only offered a flight credit or voucher.

The Waraiches then took the issue to their credit card company which refunded 50 per cent of the tickets.

However, the credit card company's refund left the Sohi Vacations 50 per cent out of pocket, so it then filed in the small claims court to recoup the money from the Waraiches.

The case highlights the complications in getting refunds as thousands of Canadians had flights cancelled but are yet to see their money refunded. The case also identifies those left on the hook when such flights are cancelled.

In the decision, the Tribunal compares the issue of cancelled flights to other events cancelled because of the pandemic.

The decision lists Tribunal cases in which it ruled against granting refunds for weddings that were cancelled due to the pandemic.

"Where a wedding contract is altered in terms of the number of attendees allowed or the precise date, a wedding can still proceed in some form at the same venue," the decision reads. "Here, the fundamental and sole purpose of the contract was to provide the flights. Sohi became unable to provide any flights from Delhi to Canada, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related government decisions."

Sohi Vacations argued the situation is Air Canada's issue and the airline's policy is to offer vouchers or credits toward future flights, but not refunds.

However, the Tribunal didn't agree, saying it would be up to Sohi Vacations to seek payment from Air Canada as a separate issue if it wished.

Ultimately, the Tribunal ruled that Sohi Vacations had breached its contract and therefore was obliged to refund the Waraiches 50 per cent of the ticket price. However, as the credit card had already covered the refund, there were no costs awarded.

So while the customers got their money back, and Air Canada didn't lose a penny, the independent travel agent was left $5,000 out of pocket.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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