The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) has issued a statement in response to yesterday’s decision by Transport Canada to ground all Boeing 737 MAX 8s and MAX 9s as a safety precaution in the wake of last Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash.
“Registrants may have questions regarding their responsibilities under the Travel Industry Act, 2002 (“Act”) and Ontario Regulation 26/05 (“Regulation”),” TICO’s notice read. “Registrants should be aware of the consumer protection available to customers as they consider any new arrangements arising from today’s safety notice.”
Generally speaking: section 40(1) of the Regulation requires registrants offer their customers a full, immediate refund (or comparable alternate travel services acceptable to the customer) where the registrant becomes aware that ‘the scheduled departure of any transportation that forms part of the travel services is delayed or advanced by twenty-four hours or more.’
However, subsection (2) of the Regulation states that the above does not apply “if the delay results from mechanical problems that relate to the mode of transportation, safety considerations, the weather, a strike or a force majeure” (meaning acts of nature (ie: floods) or people (ie: war).
Rights & Responsibilities
Yesterday’s Transport Canada ruling is considered a safety consideration, TICO stated.
That means, as per the Regulation, registrants have the right to “delay” the scheduled departure of transportation by 24 hours or more without offering a refund or alternate travel services.
While this may be so, a registrant may have certain obligations under the common law and the specific terms and conditions of the booking, TICO noted.
“Registrants should carefully review the terms and conditions of their contracts and what their obligations are in regard to those agreements,” the notice reads.
The notice was issued as an “explanation of the legislation” as opposed to legal advice.
Keeping customers in the loop
TICO also advised travel agents that there is a requirement before and after entering the sale of travel services that “a customer be advised of any condition or change related to the travel service that may affect, or would otherwise have affected, the customer’s decision to purchase the travel service.”
In cases where consumers have lost confidence and no longer wish to travel, it is the individual consumer who must make that decision (while taking into consideration the terms and conditions of the contract with the supplier).
If the consumer chooses not to travel, the consumer “may or may not receive a refund depending on the cancellation requirements stated in the terms and conditions,” TICO states.
To read TICO’s bulletin in its entirety, click here.