Its no secret that the airline industry (along with many others) has had a highly challenging year. With travel restrictions in many countries and people wary of travel, its led the airline industry to arguably one of its worst years. Its interesting to note however, that some Canadian carriers are scheduling flights that will not take off. Would-be travellers are spending on flights that may not actually take off and in some cases getting a travel voucher/credit, not a refund.
CBC reported that Air Canada cancelled 27,000 flights in November, while WestJet slashed its schedule by about 12,400 flights. Despite minuscule travel demand, Canadian airlines continue to schedule tens of thousands of flights per month, only to cancel the vast majority of them several weeks before takeoff. The approach can leave passengers with a drastically changed itinerary or no flight at all, giving them little choice but to accept vouchers they may never use.”It’s called bait and switch,” said John Gradek, a lecturer at McGill University and head of its Global Aviation Leadership program. The strategy is a response to a shift in customer behaviour, an attempt to woo wary travellers with ample flight options before drastically undersold seats prompt a scheduling cull. “The industry cross their fingers and hope people buy, that they all of a sudden get this insane urge to fly,” Gradek said, calling the practice “deceptive.”
More recently some airlines promised more refunds, but the process could take time to roll out. In the meantime, be mindful when booking fights and ask about refund policies before booking.