The MapleMoney Show » How to Spend Money Wisely » Travel

Airline Cancellations and Your Rights As a Passenger, with Gabor Lukacs

Presented by CDIC

Welcome to The MapleMoney Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their personal finances to create lasting financial freedom. I’m your host, Tom Drake, the founder of MapleMoney, where I’ve been writing about all things related to personal finance since 2009.

If you’ve ever been impacted by a flight cancellation, chances are you’ve experienced the frustration that comes with trying to get a full refund from the airline. My guest this week has been fighting for the rights of Canadian airline passengers for years, winning countless challenges in court.

Gabor Lukacs is the founder of AirPassengerRights.ca. He joins me on The MapleMoney Show to remind us of our rights as passengers, and how to go about handling a dispute the next time an airline tells you that you have none.

This topic could not come at a better time. Unfortunately, the global airline industry is in complete disarray as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. And while the entire situation is out of anyone’s control, Gabor has concerns about what the future might look like, when the industry is back up and running. If you’ve had flights cancelled due to the Coronavirus, have you received a full refund from your airline in the original form of payment?

If all you’ve received is a travel credit, you could be in trouble, because no one knows what the prices of flights will be like in a year or two. Will you be able to rebook your vacation at the same rate when flights resume? Even worse, what if the airline you’re dealing with was to go bankrupt. You would run the risk of never seeing your money again.

The current crisis aside, Canadian airline passengers should know their rights. Gabor shares plenty of advice on handling airline disputes. He covers everything from contacting the airline, dealing with a travel agent, and when you should seek recourse from your credit card company. If you travel with any frequency, it’s an episode you don’t want to miss.

Do you bank with a member of CDIC? If so, your eligible deposits with that institution will be protected up to $100,000 in each of their coverage categories, in the event of a bank failure. Didn’t know that banks could fail? CDIC has handled the failure of 43 of its member institutions since it was established in 1967. Guess how many people lost their protected deposits during those failures? Zero. Not a single dollar under CDIC protection was lost. Find out more about CDIC coverage and check to see if you bank with one of its member institutions by visiting CDIC.

Episode Summary

  • What led Gabor to begin holding airlines to account
  • Too many people are not aware of their rights when they fly
  • Understanding passenger rights through the current COVID-19 crisis
  • When airlines return, who will bear the burden of the losses?
  • What happens to your travel credit if the airline goes bankrupt?
  • Until the airline refund goes back to your credit card, you don’t have the money
  • The advantage of booking a round trip ticket
  • The trouble with credit card insurance policies
Read transcript

If you’ve ever been impacted by a flight cancelation, chances are you’ve experienced the frustration that comes with trying to get a full refund from the airline. My guest this week has been fighting for the rights of Canadian airline passengers for years, winning countless challenges in court. This week, Gabor Lukacs joins me on the Maple Money Show to remind us of our rights as passengers and how to go about handling a dispute the next time the airline tells you that you have none.

Welcome to the Maple Money Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their personal finances to create lasting financial freedom. Do you bank with a member of CDIC? If so, your eligible deposits with that institution will be protected up to $100,000 in each of their coverage categories in the event of a bank failure. Didn’t know that banks could fail? CDIC has handled the failure of 43 of its member institutions since it was established in 1967. Guess how many people lost their protected deposits during those failures, zero. Not a single dollar under CDIC protection was lost. Find out more about CDIC coverage and check to see if you bank with one of its member institutions by visiting cdic.ca. Now, let’s talk with Gabor…

Tom: Hi Gabor, welcome to the Maple Money Show.

Gabor: Hi.

Tom: I wanted to have you on because I had seen you on the news and have heard of you before. We cover travel topics at Maple Money Show so your name has come up before with various airline issues. If we can go back to the beginning, what got you into this? I think it was around 2008 when you started challenging airlines about different rules?

Gabor: That was around 2007 when I had my first case in superior court of the province. My first airline case goes back to 2005. I think it was Continental Airlines at the time, which later on merged with United. The delayed me on my route to a conference by 26 hours. Things rub me the right way so I took them to small claims courts here and got a judgment. They didn’t even show up. They tried to have it set aside and lost that so ultimately we settled and they paid about three quarters of the judgment which was about $6,000. At this time, in 2006 it was quite a nice sum. That was my first airline success.

Tom: That wasn’t too long ago. I think maybe a year or two ago I had a ridiculous set of delays out of Toronto into New York and on the way back as well. I can’t remember what the issue was back then but at the time I didn’t know any better. I took my $300 credit for the hassle. It was something that was such a short period of time that I never even used it. It was just a piece of paper that disappeared. I never really even took advantage of the credit but I didn’t realize what my rights were at that time. I was just glad I got a flight. They were giving me a little extra credit so I was good to go. But I think I spent over 12 hours in the airport just waiting for the next flight. There were delays after delays and flight changes and everything. It was all so automatic and it didn’t feel like I had a choice. It just said this is the new flight and it leaves at such and such time, and here’s your credit. And that was it. So, I like the work you’ve been doing because it’s made me realize that there are actual rights we have.

Gabor: You’d be surprised by how much people are not aware of their rights. That’s quite true.

Tom: Now, I think it’s very important because we’ve hit this whole Coronavirus and everybody needs to cancel. What are your thoughts of our current situation right now? What’s travel look like this year?

Gabor: Well, it is going to look like a mess. When you think about what the next few months are going to be, I expect we’re going to have very environmentally friendly travel because there will be no flights if anything is happening. It will be most likely rescue flights, cargo flights, maybe exchange of some scientists and necessary equipment. It will be very, very limited. I told my family they will not likely be seeing me face-to-face for the next 24 months. That’s my prediction. It will take probably about 12 months to see things similar—close to normal in terms of the Coronavirus. I hope it will happen sooner but it’s not guaranteed. I expect it will be another 6 to 12 months until we see anything similar to the travel industry we are used to. Even though it won’t be the same anymore at least there will be some flights over to Europe. I expect my next trip will be a trip to some airport in Europe. I hope we won’t be too far from Budapest where my family is. I’ll probably be taking a train so it will be quite a significant undertaking. I just hope it won’t have to be by boat.

Tom: You mentioned that this could take 24 months which is interesting because it seems to be the new default that these airlines are 24 month credits. If it takes 24 months to get back to normal, is that the biggest issue with credits? What’s wrong with just saying, “I’ll just take the credit and book a flight later?

Gabor: As a passenger, if you don’t get on the flight you paid for you are entitled to a full refund. The airline cannot take an interest-free loan from you for God knows how long and keep your money locked in while you are incurring interest on your credit card. Some people pay for those trips using their credit card in anticipation of having more income because they didn’t see this crisis coming. They now need the money because otherwise they keep accruing significant interest on their balance while the airline is just enjoying that interest-free loan. That’s not right. Also, people have reported that the costs of future vacations (which are still being advertised surprisingly for upcoming months) are almost double the price they paid, in many cases. If you pay for a vacation today, the very least you should be getting is a comparable vacation in the future and not just the balance, because who knows what the price of a vacation will be in a year and a half or two years from now.

Tom: That’s a great point. If you buy a $500 flight and a year and a half from now it’s $1,000 then you didn’t really get anything. You also lose some options in how you spend your money especially if you’re locked into that airline and you want to get a deal somewhere else. That’s when you have a problem.

Gabor: It’s just a question of competition. You would like to be able to find the best deal when you are about to buy your next ticket.

Tom: Yeah. And if all these credits are going around where they’re all out there still waiting to be cashed, there’s not much incentive for the airlines to offer great deals on flights because they know all this money needs to be spent within two years.

Gabor: The reality behind it is not that they realize they don’t have the money. Not all airlines have the money. So they’re in trouble. There’s no doubt.

Tom: Yeah, that’s a great point to bring up. They’re not just sitting on all this money. It’s already gone into flights that have already happened.

Gabor: It’s been paid out as dividends to shareholders. We shouldn’t forget that when the airlines come back for a bailout—and they will be coming back, those are questions that have to be raised. How are the shareholders going to bear the burden of those losses? What you cannot do is privatize profits and socialize losses. There is no doubt that some help is needed but there will have to be strings attached to it.

Tom: If you want to get really into it, in the worst case scenario, if one of these airlines went bankrupt, I assume that credit is meaningless?

Gabor: It is, yes. This is one of the reasons also that I’m urging people to seek a chargeback on their credit cards because money in your account (back to your card) is good money. Otherwise, it is not really your money. So the whole idea of airlines keeping your money for a long time is quite ludicrous.

Tom: Let’s get into that. I’ve seen in various places (including your Facebook group, which is a great resource for people) where you suggest three steps. Can you walk us through those steps?

Gabor: The first step is contacting the airline and seeking a refund to the original form of payment. If you are refused or ignored, then you contact your credit card company and initiate a chargeback procedure. If that fails then I would sue both the airline and the credit card company for the damages. The reason I’m suggesting to sue both is because if the airline goes belly up you can still go after the credit card company.

Tom: When you talk to an airline, what should you say? How do you initiate this once you eventually get through?

Gabor: I was say I was calling to cancel the contract and request a full refund to the original form of payment which is required by the airlines on the terms and conditions which they are required to comply with. These rules, required by case law, are required by general principle of consumer protection. I paid the money to get the service so I’m entitled to a full refund.

Tom: This only applies if they cancel on you, right? If I cancel a flight just because I’m concerned about this whole situation, do I lose those rights?

Gabor: If you cancel yourself. If it’s a normal day where you just don’t feel like going to Detroit anymore, then it is your problem. A situation where you cannot go because of circumstances outside of control of the airline and yourself and it’s not your personal circumstance then it can becomes a case of frustration of contract. This is in terms of legal principle where the parties just part ways and restore the situation as if the contract had never been made. The passenger gets back their money and the airline no longer has any obligation to the passenger. Everybody goes on their way.

Tom: This one’s a bit of a personal one because my wife is going through this right now for a trip next month. We booked a roundtrip flight and they’ve canceled the flight there but the flight back is not canceled yet. Is that a point where you would call them or do you still wait it out?

Gabor: At that point, you obviously cannot carry out the trip as contracted. The flight consists of a single contract. You have different flight segments on it but all of them constitute a single contract. If the first flight is canceled or any segment of the flight, for that matter, is canceled, you the right to say, “Sorry, you are not able to fulfill the contract in this case so I would like to receive a full refund. I would like to exercise my right to receive a full refund in the original form of payment.

Tom: I guess this is a good reason to book a roundtrip. I’ve done this in the past where I find the best—I’ll take WestJet down to the States and take Air Canada back just because those are the best flights. But I’m kind of giving up a little bit of that protection…

Gabor: That’s right. You’re giving up part of that. Having a single itinerary has some advantages. And more for international and transatlantic flights— not just in North America. Booking a roundtrip ticket is often cheaper. Within Canada, you wouldn’t see a big difference between whether you booked a roundtrip to Halifax in one or two segments. But in the transatlantic and Pacific sectors you can have a very significant difference.

Tom: This is all assuming they’ll actually refund the money. But what I’m hearing a lot, especially in your Facebook group is it almost sounds like the airlines are lying because they seem to be saying things like the laws have changed. But I think they mean it’s their policies. If the law is that they have to refund, how did they get away with this?

Gabor: Actually, some travel agents have been spreading lies about it—that the laws have changed. They have not. Travel agents have a significant financial interest because of the commission and obviously chargebacks and refunds hit them badly in their commission. What some travel agents have been telling customers (which is not true) is that the entire amount will come out from their account. That’s not the case. It’s the commission they’re going to lose in those transactions. But you have to understand that laws are only as good as they are being enforced. What guarantees you and me that someone will not come over and rob my house? There are laws in place but laws are a piece of paper. They just tell you what people are supposed to do. They are not physical barriers. So if I come to your house and take your car—steal it, normally there are the police which can catch me. They can arrest me and return your car to you. If those enforcement mechanisms stop working, then the laws become just worthless paper. What we see here is an overarching problem in the travel industry; the rules apply only insofar as they benefit the large players. I would mention that travel agents are often themselves victims of this situation. They are required to comply with the suppliers, the next predators in the food chain so to speak, who are above them and dictate. And they are often caught up between the passenger and the airline.

Tom: Speaking travel agents, where do they fit into this? Are you paying the travel agent with your credit card? Does that make things a little murkier?

Gabor: Often the way things happen is, you give your credit card number to an agent and they provide the airline, the tour company and so on, and they get a commission from that company.

Tom: So it is still a direct?

Gabor: Yes. There is still some question about the travel agent though. Whose agent they are? That’s where the murky area is. When you look at some of those deals, the agent is acting as an agent for a tour company. But in some sense they are supposed to be your agent. They are supposed to serve you. And it’s not clear who the agent is really working for. Who is acting on the behalf of whom? Legally, it can be clarified, of course. But from the passenger’s perspective it’s far from clear.

Tom: Say we booked a trip with a travel agent? Should we be dealing with them to solve this or should we be going to the airlines?

Gabor: That’s a very big problem because the airline will refuse to speak to you until you go to your travel agent. But the travel agent will tell you, “I cannot do much because I don’t understand what to do.” I would check it first. Who charged your credit card? That’s a good starting point because whoever checked your credit card is normally the person who you are actually doing business with. In a case of airlines, there is the specific case law that whoever is involved, ultimately, your contract is with the airline. Your relationship with the airline (more precisely) will see the airline’s tariff apply no matter how exact the arrangements are.

Tom: Another question I see coming up a lot related to this first level of calling is when should you call? I think I’ve seen you recommend seven days out from your flight. But if it’s canceled before that, do you call immediately? What’s the timing?

Gabor: If your flight is canceled and they’re not offering you an alternative in this situation, then certainly you can call right away and tell them, “Hey, clearly you cannot fulfill this contract. I would like you to issue me a full refund to the original form of payment.” They may say no at which point you’re in a position to call your credit card company and tell them you’ve been refused. In some cases, you may have to give them some time to iron things out. And sometimes you may have to send a formal letter. If push comes to shove, maybe an email saying, “I am canceling the contract with you. Therefore, I expect you to refund me within 15 days.” And when those 15 days expire, you can call your credit card company.

Tom: You mentioned this frustrated contract. Does that basically apply right now? If we’re looking at a one month travel ban, even if they haven’t canceled the flight yet, if it lands within that time, there’s no way to make that happen.

Gabor: That’s right. It’s impossible to fulfill the contract. The country won’t let you in and the airline will likely cancel. It would be a case of frustrated contract. Yes. In those cases, you may have to go to court before you can vindicate your position if it’s a frustrated contract. But that’s what the law says. Whether airlines will start refunding people for these as well is yet to be seen. I would hope that any kind of bailout, any kind of financial assistance airlines might receive from the government will be contingent on the airlines cleaning up the mess they created with passengers by just refunding everyone. That would be the very bare minimum condition for any kind of package, in my opinion. And we’re not talking about that much money when you look at the grand scheme of things. Say a passenger is out $1,000. How many affected passengers are we talking about? Let’s say 100,000 for example. If you multiply that by 1,000 is just $100 million which is, of course, lots of money for you and me. It’s not as though we have that in our back pocket. But in terms of this happening to the country, we’re talking about assistance to large corporations—those who will be able to tune into billions of dollars. So cleaning up the mess would be a small expense. It is also important to restore public confidence in consumer laws, in the consumer system, the legal system, because if passengers have to worry that their money may disappear, they will not be booking flights. They will not be booking flights for vacations. They may be just driving wherever they want. That way they know they have this much money in their pocket to pay for a hotel and they know that’s what they’re going to get. Or people will just insist on only flying if they can pay the money directly right before boarding the flight. From an airline perspective it would create a very significant uncertainty. But if the airlines go down this route, there will be no one willing to pay in advance for a flight.

Tom: I know you’re just making the dollar amount up as an example but are you suggesting a government bailout would help fund that? Or that these airlines should just take it and save face and keep moving on?

Gabor: Well, some airlines just won’t have the money. It isn’t a question of whether they can or can’t? It’s a question of whether they have the extra capital to do it. That’s yet to be seen. They should certainly come forward with clear financial statuses. I wouldn’t be surprised if some airlines opt for a CCAA type of bankruptcy procedure, some restructuring. Some government bailouts would likely be inevitable. It’s an economic question. One has to sit down and do the numbers. I am not against it on principle, but it has to be done in a way that every dollar that is invested is turned into equity for the public. If an airline gets some capital, then the state should acquire probably ownership in the airline. Once the airline’s value increases, then those shares can be sold. It can be privatized. But until then, I would not just be giving cash handouts. I would not just be giving loans which they may not be able to repay. It’s public money. The other conditions that should be attached are some significant limits on various payouts to executives. I think it would make lots of sense to require some executives to refund some of the things they have received in the past years as a condition for an airline to receive a bailout because they have to also take out their fair share (of responsibility) in this situation. It’s very nice that they are laying out all the frontline employees, but then the top brass is still giving themselves bonuses. That’s unacceptable. And they have to deal with this situation. Shareholders will also, of course, have their fair share in contributing to the problem. One of them is when the government is acquiring shares, more ownership in the company. Shareholders may have to inject some capital into the company to keep it running. That’s all a significant possibility.

Tom: Yes. I think shareholders are seeing that because I’ve seen some of the stock prices of these airlines and they’ve been working their way down pretty fast.

Gabor: They’ve taken a nosedive, too. And pun is intended there.

Tom: The last thing about the call to an airline that I want to cover is what do we do to sort of support our case? Should we be recording calls? Should we only be using email?

Gabor: You need to think of this case as though you are now going to establish facts of a murder trial. There’s a level of precision and documentation I would recommend to people. Of course, it won’t be perfect. It’s never perfect. But in order to really have a good case, make sure think along the lines of a murder mystery where you collect evidence like a detective. Each piece of the puzzle has to fit in. So keep all your emails, record all your phone calls. Phone calls in Canada and any kind of conversation to which you are personally a party can be recorded and you don’t have to tell the other person you are recording. Be prepared even to the extent you have a script in front of you. Think about points you’re going to tell them in advance and just follow it. Be firm but polite. The person on the other end of the line is not your enemy. They are just a poor employee who was told that this is what they have to tell you. So don’t take out your frustration on them. Be professional, but don’t be hesitant to be pushy in terms of asserting your rights. It’s one thing to be nice, but if they are giving you an evasive answer, repeat your question. Tell them, if you’re unsure of their answer, to repeat it. For example, with an airline that doesn’t comply to a particular tariff rule, say, “According to rule one, two, three states that in such a situation a full refund is owed. Let me read it to you and can you explain to me why you’re not complying with that.” They may say, “I’m sorry…” And you say, “You didn’t answer my question. The question was why does the company not comply with the tariff?” In that sense, it puts lots of pressure on them. Also ask for the supervisor if necessary. What you need to convey is this huge determination that you are going to get back your money whatever happens; you are not here to negotiate. You’re there to tell them what they have to do. You’re not there to ask. You’re not there to beg. You are telling them this is how it’s going to be. This is what you have to do, “It’s not debatable. You have my money and you have to give it back.”

Tom: If we’re not getting anywhere and they’ve basically said, “No, and we’ve got it recorded,” the next step sounds like an easier option possibly; the credit card chargeback. But they’re still not always playing along.

Gabor: Some credit card companies are doing that to people and we are investigating that because in many cases there is a legal obligation on them to issue a chargeback. It’s not like they don’t feel like doing it. We don’t care about what they feel like doing. If the law says they have to reverse a charge, they have to reverse the charge. End of story. And one has to be very firm about that+86`0.0. First of all, when you call, you have to ask right away for the disputes department. Don’t start arguing with a poor clerk who is not a dispute expert. You need to tell them you purchased a flight and did not receive the service you paid for. Therefore, you would like to initiate a dispute. They may try to dissuade you somehow. They may even offer you future credit. That’s when you say you didn’t pay for a flight with a future credit. You paid for a flight on a given date and they are not performing it. There is not even a prospect of them flying a couple of days from that date so you’re requesting a chargeback. You want to access your right under the law to seek the credit card company to reverse the charges.

Tom: Speaking of credit cards, what about credit card insurance? There is all this travel insurance and such. Is that still holding up? Does that make it easier?

Gabor: Credit card insurances cover a very specific risk. The difference between a chargeback and insurance is that with a chargeback you prove simply that you paid for the service but didn’t get the service. The merchant refuses to deliver a service or refund. End of story. With insurance you have to meet the insurance requirements from a mathematical or actuarial perspective. And insurance is risk balancing. You’re paying a premium because they made a calculation of how likely the event on the risk is to happen. If all of a sudden you have a situation, if your situation doesn’t exactly fit into the description of the insurance policy, then they won’t pay you. Not because they are bad people, but because they didn’t calculate the risk you want to get compensation for it. So credit cards, in terms of chargebacks, are more, clear cut cases. Insurances may have more valid reasons to refuse to pay you. If you don’t fall exactly within the limits of the insurance policy, they don’t have to pay you.

Tom: That’s a good point because I think a lot of cancelation insurance is based around specific things and I don’t think this virus was included in any of their terms. The third option you mentioned was if neither of these routes works, we should sue them. What’s this look like for a regular person because the idea of me suing Air Canada or WestJet sounds way too massive to be something I want to take on?

Gabor: I’m not talking about Superior Court types of lawsuits. I’m talking about small claims courts. That’s just about filling out a form where you provide the names of the parties. You provide a well-written, concise, description of the claim with basic facts like the date the ticket was purchased and the date the flight was canceled. You tell them the airline refuses to issue you a full refund. You tell them this is what you want and this is the legal basis for it. In this case, the situation is very, very straightforward. And those can be filed online. In some provinces, the courthouse itself will serve the airline. And in some provinces you have to serve them by registered mail. Now, of course, with Coronavirus you may have some adjustments to that—how the service is going to happen. Then you may have a mediation session, possibly even by phone these days. Then you have a hearing where you present your evidence. The airline will have to file a defense so just be prepared because they will deny everything. They will even deny your name. They will say that the burden of proof is on you and everything. That’s normal business with airlines and any lawsuits. Don’t get scared of that. But ultimately, when you go to the hearing you just explain to the adjudicator and the judge what happened, what the facts are, what your arguments are, and they are going to issue a ruling. It may not go your way in general, but small claims courts seem to fair—way more fair than federal regulators which tend to be very cozy with the airlines.

Tom: What does this look like? Granted, right now, everything is going to be a mess for a couple of years. But if this was last year, what’s the small claims process look like? How long does it take from beginning to end?

Gabor: It varies. In Nova Scotia it’s very quick. You’re going to hear in a month and a half, or two months. It’s really efficient here. In other provinces it may be six months, eight months. Quebec seems to be very long. I don’t know for each province but it varies from province to province.

Tom: Is there a minimum amount legitimately set out in the rules with small claims court? Let’s say you have a $300 flight, what do you do in that kind of case?

Gabor: I still think it would be a small claims court because it’s a very simple process. You have bear in mind that it may waste your time. But on the other hand, the other side may have to pay someone to deal with your claim so they may just choose to give you a refund and move on. It’s a consideration.

Tom: Yeah. I know your expertise is in airlines. Does this same stuff sort of apply to things like hotels and cruises? Is it the same set of laws or is there something different going on?

Gabor: There are a different set of laws, quite different. But generally, the same contractual principles, same consumer protection principles would apply because the fundamental principle is that if you don’t get a service, then you have to get a refund. Of course, if the service was available and you choose not to avail yourself, that’s a separate story.

Tom: Yes, I assume the frustrated contract is just contract law, right? That should apply to everything?

Gabor: Actually, it comes from common law principles. A number of provinces have enacted statutes in regards to frustrated contracts, interesting. They have a specific law which says that.

Tom: With something like a cruise (which is what my wife is looking at now for next month) that’s an American company; do we have the same set of rights even if it was an American flight? Do we have the same set of rights if it’s something purchased down in the States?

Gabor: Well, I’m not sure what the details are; where she purchased it, whether she is flying down there as part of the same purchase. But I believe now the whole cruise is cancelled, right?

Tom: Yeah. Just to get into it a bit, it is separately purchased. So the cruiser was purchased, the flights were purchased. They are separate things.

Gabor: But the cruise itself, it’s canceled now because of the virus, correct?

Tom: I can’t remember the exact wording they used. I don’t think they’ve 100 percent canceled. I believe it was something like, “If you cancel now, we’ll give you 50 percent refund, 50 percent credit. And if you cancel two weeks from now, it becomes a worse deal as far as how much refund you get.”

Gabor: I would not cancel because they have to cancel. They will not be able to operate a cruise, it’s obvious. So I would wait until they cancel and then say you want all your money back.

Tom: Just like the return trip. Maybe this is the benefit of booking a package because when the flight is canceled, the whole thing kind of falls apart.

Gabor: That’s true. But in this kind of situation—the current situation, it’s obvious the cruise is not going to go anywhere. I wouldn’t worry about it. I would just wait until they cancel. And then if necessary, again, you can issue a dispute through your credit card. If they cancel the cruise—they cannot operate a cruise, I don’t have any problem with that because they just have to give back the money. As far as I can see, cruises are not the problem. Hotels are not the problem. Airlines have a problem. But hotels and ground transportation tend to be way more cooperative in the current situation.

Tom: Yeah, we were concerned with my wife’s trip. Another thing we had for each end of the cruise was hotels that we had booked through Expedia. And to save a few dollars they were “no cancelation” options. We didn’t see a situation where we would cancel it and sure enough, we had this problem and we weren’t sure how we were going to deal with these hotels that could not be canceled. Expedia really came through this week (as we’re recording this). They sent out special emails for both hotels so I assume this has gone on to quite a few people. It includes a cancelation link. You could click it—hit okay and cancel it with a full refund. It makes me happier with Expedia. It probably took a lot of stress off their own customer service because now people can just get what they want instead of waiting hours on hold.

Gabor: They did the right thing. And the hotels that were willing to go along with doing the right thing too. The airlines just aren’t willing to do it. Maybe they don’t even have the cash to do it which is part and parcel of the problem.

Tom: Well, this has been great. I think we’ve given people a lot of knowledge of their rights and the processes to go through. Can you let people know where they can find you online—your blog, your Facebook group, which I know has some interesting scripts and everything?

Gabor: Sure. We have a website; airpassengerrights.ca. And our Facebook group is Air Passenger Rights, Canada Group. The link is the usual—the way Facebook works. It’s going to be www.facebook.com/groups/airpassengerrights.

Tom: Great. And like I mentioned, there are scripts in there I think makes this a lot easier if people aren’t sure what to say on these phone calls. I think people should check that out if they’re coming up against this problem.

Gabor: Definitely.

Tom: Thanks for being on show.

Gabor: Thank you very much for having me.

Thank you, Gabor, for explaining the rights of Canadian airline passengers and for showing us what to do the next time we experience a flight cancelation. You can get the show notes for this episode at maplemoney.com/gaborlukacs. Or, check out all the episodes at maplemoney.com/show. The Maple Money Show has been growing steadily and I’d love you to help spread the message even further. Can you take a minute and head over to Apple podcasts and leave a rating in review? Next week we’ll have Martin Dasko return to the podcast to discuss his latest side hustle, Airbnb Experiences. See you next week.

When the airlines will be coming back for a bailout, and they will be coming back, the question has to be raised, how the shareholders will bear the burden of those losses. What you cannot do is prioritize profits and socialize losses. There’s no doubt that some help is needed, but (the government) will have to have strings attached to it. - Gabor LukacsClick to Tweet

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