WestJet delay leads to compensation for BC traveler

A B.C. traveler will receive more than $1,300 in compensation from WestJet for a missed flight connection following a decision by the province’s Small Claims Tribunal.

In a Civil Resolution Tribunal decision posted online Wednesday, tribunal member Alison Wake explained that the dispute arose after a flight from Kelowna to Calgary was delayed on December 21, 2022. The flight was scheduled to land in Calgary at 3:06 PM that day. but did not arrive until 11:12 PM. The affected traveler had a connecting flight to Phoenix that departed from Calgary at 6:50 p.m

Under Wake’s decision, the traveler ultimately booked himself a flight from Calgary to Phoenix via Seattle on Delta Airlines. While he managed to reach Seattle, he “suffered further delays and cancellations once there,” Wake wrote.

The traveler ultimately took a flight on Spirit Airlines and arrived in Phoenix three days later than planned, on December 24.

Compensation claims against WestJet totaled $4,307 under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations, as well as reimbursement for rebooked flights, hotel costs and meal costs. Under the APPR, compensation can be awarded depending on whether the delay was within or beyond the airline’s control.

Wake wrote that in a statement emailed to the passenger about a month after his delayed trip, WestJet said “the primary reason for his flight delay was ‘flight crew delays of a connecting flight,’ over which he said he had no control.” “

But Wake said a carrier must “take all reasonable steps to mitigate the impact of the prior delay.”

“WestJet provided no evidence as to why the connecting crew was delayed, or whether it could have reasonably avoided the disruption,” Wake wrote. “So I think the delay was within WestJet’s control.”

No alternatives offered?

Wake explained that a major airline like WestJet is required under the APPR to rebook delayed passengers on the next available flight to their destination that departs within nine hours. This rule applies when the delay exceeds three hours and is within the airline’s control. If the airline is unable to book a flight on one of its own flights or with a partner airline within that time frame, it must rebook the passenger on ‘any reasonable flight route to their destination within 48 hours’.

Under the APPR, the carrier must refund the unused portion of a ticket if alternative travel arrangements do not meet the traveler’s needs.

In this case, the traveler claimed that WestJet did not offer him an alternative itinerary after his delay.

“He says he waited in line at the WestJet counter for over an hour until the WestJet employee at the counter said they couldn’t help anyone else that day,” Wake wrote. “He also says he called WestJet repeatedly but was unable to speak to anyone. WestJet does not dispute this.”

The passenger claimed that WestJet had not communicated alternative plans to him, so he booked his own flights.

Damages denied

In addition to claiming just over $1,200 for the Delta Airlines flight from Calgary to Phoenix, the delayed traveler also claimed reimbursement for “unused flights,” hotel costs and meals.

Wake determined that the passenger had already received a refund for his Delta flights, as he also experienced delays with that airline. She awarded a portion of the traveler’s claims for meals and lodging, totaling $276.72.

The majority of the awarded claim – $1,000 of it – came from compensation under the APPR for the flight delay. Wake discovered that the passenger’s arrival at his destination was delayed by more than nine hours, meaning he was entitled to compensation from the airline.

In total, WestJet was ordered to pay $1,361.84, including prejudgment interest.