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Air Canada racks up second-most refund complaints in U.S. in May –



Air Canada had the second-highest number of complaints about refunds to the U.S. Department of Transportation of any airline in May.

The department says Air Canada was the target of 1,705 refund complaints out of 10,415 filed against non-U.S. airlines in the month, outpacing all 80-plus foreign carriers in the category.

United Airlines was the only airline — domestic or international — to notch more refund complaints at 3,215.

Air Canada and other Canadian carriers have refused to reimburse most customers whose flights were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However the U.S., like the European Union, requires airlines to refund passengers. A complaint to the U.S. regulator offers a potential path to reimbursement for some Air Canada customers who have been turned down north of the border.

Complaints come despite lower passenger count

Air Canada’s tally of complaints came even as four U.S. airlines as well as British Airways and Lufthansa carried more passengers on flights with a U.S. segment than the Canadian airline, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. ranked right below Air Canada in cross-border passenger numbers, but garnered the sixth-most refund complaints among non-U.S. airlines at 346. WestJet has said customers who booked U.S. or U.K. flights are entitled to refunds.

May marked the second month in a row that Air Canada has finished among the top tier of complaint targets, with the Montreal-based company’s portion on the rise.

Air Canada received 969 refund complaints out of 7,568 in April, or 13 per cent, according to the department. It ranked third for refund complaints of any carrier that month, after United Airlines and American Airlines.

“There’s a lot of pushback from the airline to refund passengers. They’re trying to offer vouchers or get out of their obligation to refund their passengers,” said Taylor Bain, a second-year law student at the University of Ottawa and co-founder of FORMidable Solutions.

Earlier this month, the organization released a free online tool to help passengers file formal complaints to the U.S. transportation department.

Bains says the complaint generator has now been used more than 2,000 times.

Disagreements with Department of Transportation 

Air Canada did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. transportation department’s April 3 enforcement notice states that “passengers should be refunded promptly when their scheduled flights are cancelled or significantly delayed,” and is applicable to U.S. and foreign carriers.

“Although the COVID-19 public health emergency has had an unprecedented impact on air travel, the airlines’ obligation to refund passengers for cancelled or significantly delayed flights remains unchanged,” the directive states.

Air Canada has fought formal complaints to the Department of Transportation, arguing that the enforcement notice along with “the Department’s COVID-19 Refund FAQs are guidance documents only…and do not have the effect of law.”

The airline also states in departmental filings that it has fully complied with the terms of its contract of carriage, that its refund policy “is neither unfair nor deceptive” and that many airfares were purchased outside the U.S., making the enforcement notice “an unwarranted extraterritorial application of U.S. law.”

In May, the top complaint-earning foreign carrier after Air Canada was TAP Air Portugal, whose 901 cases amount to just over half the complaint numbers of its Canadian counterpart.

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London officials to Queen's Park: Tighten rules on social gatherings here – London Free Press (Blogs)



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Premier Doug Ford indicated his willingness to grant the request by London officials.

He said his cabinet will discuss requests from mayors and medical officials from other areas of the province to extend restrictions.

“We’re going to be rolling (it) out to other areas across the province from the request of the mayors,” Ford said in Ottawa. “I listen to the medical experts. I’ll base this on the health and science.”

He also promised that his plan to address a possible second wave this fall will be released by the province next week.

Under the province’s enhanced restrictions, the fine for hosting a rule-breaking party starts at $10,000.

Mackie is anticipating the province will expand its gathering size restrictions to include the London-area in time for the weekend.

If the province doesn’t act immediately, the health unit is not ruling out issuing an order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to restrict private gathering sizes, but the move would take up to a week to come into effect, Mackie said.

The decision to issue a Section 22 order would come Monday or Tuesday of next week if the province’s restrictions are not in place, Mackie said.

The health unit has reported 47 new COVID-19 cases, including 39 among Western students, in the last week and declared three outbreaks.

One outbreak is connected to post-secondary students and the downtown party scene, including the bar Lost Love. The second outbreak is linked to a large student party this past weekend that drew “dozens,” Mackie said. The third involved staff at the Walmart store in Hyde Park.

None of the 39 Western students who tested positive have required hospitalization, Mackie said.

The health unit reported 13 new cases Friday, bringing the total number of new cases in the area to 24 over the past two days — nearly the same number reported in the entire first two weeks of September.

For weeks, the daily growth in new London-area cases had held steady at about one to two each day.

The Thursday-Friday case increases are the biggest two-day jump since April 18 and 19, when the health unit reported 17 new cases each day.

“Depending on how we fare over the weekend, this could become the worst stretch of cases in London-Middlesex since the pandemic’s onset,” Mayor Ed Holder said Friday.

“Please wear a mask, physically distance, avoid large crowds. . . . We can do this, we just need more of us to do a little better.”

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Canadian police charged a Tesla owner for sleeping while driving – Engadget




Police in Canada say they recently charged a Tesla Model S owner with driving dangerously for sleeping at his car’s wheel. In July, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) say they responded to a speeding complaint on Highway 2 near Ponoka — a town in Alberta, south of the province’s capital of Edmonton. Those who saw the car report it was traveling faster than 140 kilometers per hour (86MPH), with the front seats “completely reclined,” and both the driver and passenger seemingly asleep. When a police officer found the 2019 Model S and turned on their emergency lights, the vehicle accelerated to 150 kilometers per hour (about 93MPH) before it eventually stopped.

Police initially charged the driver, a 20-year-old man from the province of British Columbia, with speeding and handed him a 24-hour license suspension for driving while fatigued. He was also later charged with dangerous driving and has a court date in December.

It’s unclear how the Model S driver misused Autopilot in the way that they did. The incident occurred before Tesla updated the system to give it the ability to detect speed limit signs using a vehicle’s cameras. However, as The Verge notes, Tesla has said Autopilot will only work when it detects that the driver has their hands on the steering wheel. If that’s not the case, the car will try to get the driver’s attention with visual and audio warnings before disabling Autopilot.

But the fact that drivers can disengage from Autopilot is something that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the US has criticized Tesla over repeatedly. In March, the agency published a report that said a Model 3 driver’s overreliance on the system — in a situation it wasn’t designed to handle — led to a deadly crash in Delray Beach, Florida in 2019.

In this latest incident, the RCMP similarly warned against overlying on Autopilot. “Although manufacturers of new vehicles have built in safeguards to prevent drivers from taking advantage of the new safety systems in vehicles, those systems are just that — supplemental safety systems,” said Superintendent Gary Graham of Alberta RCMP Traffic Services. “They are not self-driving systems, they still come with the responsibility of driving.”

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Canadian retail sales slow after surpassing pandemic losses – BNN



Gains for Canadian retailers slowed sharply in July and August, suggesting pent-up demand from prior months has been largely extinguished.

Sales grew 0.6 per cent in July, versus 23 per cent in June and 21 per cent in May, Statistics Canada said Friday in Ottawa. Excluding vehicles, receipts unexpectedly dropped 0.4 per cent, versus a forecast gain of 0.5 per cent. Preliminary estimates from the agency show receipts climbed 1.1 per cent in August, suggesting the weaker trend will continue.

The report reinforces warnings that the pace of the recovery will slow in the second half of the year, after a strong V-shaped rebound through the early summer.

“All in all, the numbers imply that retail activity is normalizing after the whipsaw of a huge downturn and recovery,” said Scotiabank economist Brett House in a note.

Core retail sales, or those excluding vehicles and gasoline, dropped 1.2 per cent.

Still, the rebound has been impressive. In July, retail sales were up 2.7 per cent compared with year earlier levels.

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