Samantha Borquez Perez, who lives in Sarnia, Ont., had planned to travel to Cuba to celebrate her birthday with her best friend in April 2020. Her vacation was booked through Air Transat.
But her trip — which would have been her first to a sun destination — was cancelled two weeks before they were set to leave as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
The 28-year-old mother of three, who lost her job in retail due to the pandemic and is currently on maternity leave until September, was “so excited” to hear the airline would be offering refunds Thursday morning.
“I’ve been waiting since they cancelled [our trip],” she told Global News. “Back then it was pretty stressful. Now it is a relief. But back then I could have used [the refund] a lot more.”
Coronavirus outbreak: Why won’t airlines give me my money back?
Borquez Perez says including taxes, she’s expecting to get about $1,300 back.
“Anything is helpful right now – anything,” she said, adding she plans to put the money towards savings and bills.
Transat A.T. announced Thursday it is tapping into the federal government’s Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility – the same program used to loan money to Air Canada – for $700 million.
The loan will be used, in part, to refund travellers for cancelled flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Transat said reimbursements will begin immediately.
“The total amount, what the consumer paid is going to be put back to that consumer’s credit card, including taxes — all the fees,” Flemming Friisdahl, president of The Travel Agent Next Door, a network of nearly 900 independent agents across Canada, told Global News.
“So it’s a phenomenal outcome for the consumers and also for the travel industry – they’re commission. Transat and Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations have been amazing in that part of their deal with the government is that they’re protecting that commission, which will save thousands of travel agents’ jobs across Canada.”
Friisdahl added that the refund process has been extremely smooth with Air Canada and expects the same with Transat refunds.
“From what we’ve seen since the announcement with Transat, it looks very straightforward, very simple.”
The Travel Lady: navigating your Air Canada refund
Here’s everything you need to know about how to claim your Transat refund.
Am I eligible for a refund?
In order to qualify for a refund, Transat says customers must currently have a travel credit that wasn’t transferred to them.
The booking for a travel package or flight must have been made before April 29, 2021 and the departure date must have been scheduled for Feb. 1, 2020 or later.
If you have booked a claim through your insurance company or have been refunded by your credit card provider, you don’t qualify for a refund through the airline.
How to I apply?
Those who qualify must submit their refund request online to Transat by Aug. 26, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
If a request isn’t submitted by then, a refund won’t be issued. However, you’ll still be able to use your travel credit when you are ready to make a new booking.
If passengers originally booked with a travel agent or online travel agency, the airline is advising customers to contact them directly.
When can I expect my refund?
Transat says processing times for refunds could take up to three months, due to the high volume of requests.
“It will take time,” Friisdahl said. “As you can imagine, there is literally millions of refunds that are happening and this does take time to process.”
Once the request is processed, a refund will be issued in the method of payment on file. If you made the booking yourself, confirmation will be sent to you. And if you originally booked with a travel agency, the confirmation will be sent to them.
“Requests will be treated in the order in which they are received,” Transat said. “Rest assured that all our resources are dedicated to responding to your request as quickly as possible.”
–With files from Global News’ Anne Gaviola
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.