Air Canada customers are worried about possible strike action and the prospect of travel disruption next week, if the union representing its flight attendants cannot agree on a new labour deal with the airline.
Flight attendants – represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees – rejected a tentative contract agreement and voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike mandate, in a 10-day country-wide poll. It means a walkout could happen as early as next Wednesday if an agreement cannot be reached. Attendants cannot strike until a labour conciliation period expires at midnight on Tuesday. By law, the union also has to give Air Canada 72 hours notice of a strike.
In a statement, the airline said it would implement a “partial schedule” in the event of industrial action, adding that it was in talks with the union and that it would be “business as usual.”
Air Canada told TERMINAL U it had “no further information”, but that it will provide updates if there are any new developments.
Travel Advice for Air Canada customers worried about the threat of strike action
TERMINAL U has the following advice:
Can I cancel my flight just in case the strike happens?
Your decision to cancel will depend on your own circumstances and whether it is absolutely essential that you travel or whether your travel dates are flexible. There is a chance that strike action could be averted if the airline and flight attendants can reach a new agreement before next Wednesday, the earliest day they can legally strike.
According to Air Canada’s website, you can cancel a booking provided it was made directly on the airline’s website, that you are cancelling the entire booking and not a portion of it and you are not cancelling less than two hours before departure.
Unless you have a fully flexible or fully refundable ticket, you may only be entitled to a partial refund of your ticket (and the remainder as a credit towards future travel), or, if your ticket is non-refundable, a travel credit to the value of your ticket. There may be a refund penalty too, depending on your fare type. Check the conditions on your ticket. Click here for more information.
Air Canada’s refunds page.
What could happen to my flight if Air Canada’s cabin crew strike?
Air Canada said it will operate a partial schedule. It is most likely that the airline will either offer passengers the chance to rebook their flight to a later date or arrange flights on other airlines with its Star Alliance codeshare partners.
What happens if I am abroad and Air Canada announces a strike?
You should contact Air Canada to discuss being re-booked on to the next available flight. Also check the airline’s website at www.aircanada.com for updates.
Also ask the airline to clarify their policy in the event that you are stranded abroad, such as assistance with accommodation if you are substantially delayed.
Canada’s bill of passenger rights – Flight Rights Canada states: “carriers are required to address matters such as compensation for denied boarding as a result of overbooking, delays, cancellations, passenger re-routing, and lost and damaged baggage.”
If Air Canada cancels my flight, am I entitled to a refund?
Yes. According to ‘Flight Rights Canada’, the code of conduct of Canada’s airlines states that if your flight is cancelled, the airline must either: find you a seat on another flight operated by that airline, or on airline which it has an interline (codeshare) agreement with, or offer you a full refund. Click here for more information.
Can I claim compensation for other arrangements, such as accommodation and car hire expenses?
The airline isn’t responsible for losses incurred to your trip other than your flight. Contact your hotel or car hire provider first to see if you can claim a refund. If not, check to see if you are covered for trip cancellation insurance in the event of a strike.
Am I covered for a strike through my travel insurance?
Whether you are covered or not depends on the type and level of cover you have. Some policies exclude events including strikes. Always read your policy wording.
Insurers will only consider claims if you bought your travel insurance before you knew about the threat of strike action.