Flair Airlines said on Monday it had refunded almost all of the 1,900 passengers whose flights were canceled after four of its planes were seized earlier this month, but some customers say they have received only part of the money that they received. is due to them.

Bailiffs repossessed four Boeing 737s for which the low-cost airline was in arrears on March 11 at airports in Toronto, Edmonton and Waterloo, Ontario.

The seizures led to the cancellation of several flights that day, forcing customers to rush to rebook with other airlines.

Kelly Butt and her family were scheduled to catch a Flair flight from Toronto to Palm Springs, Calif., on Saturday afternoon. The travelers, however, arrived at their destination approximately 30 hours later than expected due to the cancellation.

Ms. Butt, her husband, mother and two teenage children took two separate flights to Calgary late Saturday evening – Ms. Butt landed at 12:30 p.m., two hours after the others. They then had to take a midday flight to San Diego and drive a rental car for two and a half hours to get there on Sunday, she said.

After numerous emails to Flair, Ms. Butt secured a commitment from the airline to refund her fares, but not the cost of a lost Airbnb reservation and car rental. It will also not be fully compensated for the last minute cancellation.

Flair told her in an email that she was “not eligible for any expenses associated with this flight change, including meals, hotel, or transportation to another city.”

The Montreal Convention, a multilateral treaty applicable to international flights, states that airlines are generally liable for damages caused by delayed passengers, with rare exceptions, according to the president of the air passenger advocacy group Travelers Rights, Gabor Lukacs.

After The Canadian Press emailed questions about the refund Monday morning, Flair replied Monday evening that hundreds more refunds had been paid that day, and only eight remained to be processed.

“We don’t want a customer to feel frustrated so our teams have been working hard to get refunds,” the airline said in a statement.

“In most cases, this required manual tabbing by our customer service team. Any outstanding amounts due to customers should be paid within the next 48 hours. »

No money has appeared in Ms. Butt’s account so far, she said on Tuesday, despite the company’s commitment on March 11 to refund all airfares within one week.

“Seven days have passed. We haven’t seen a dime,” she said in an interview.

Some customers say Flair has not compensated them enough and dispute the airline’s communication throughout the difficulties.

In an initial notification to passengers alerting them to the canceled flights, Flair referred to them as “unscheduled maintenance delays.” This explanation is part of a regulatory loophole that exempts airlines from the obligation to compensate – separate from reimbursement – ​​if a delay or cancellation is motivated by a safety problem.

Flair said in a statement that the email was “miscommunication” and told customers she owed them $125 in compensation for their canceled flights.

“Most of the compensation has been paid out,” Flair said.

However, Mrs. Butt thinks she and her traveling companions are entitled to more.

The Air Passenger Protection Regulations state that small carriers must compensate passengers $125 for delays of three to six hours, $250 for delays of six to nine hours, and $500 for cancellations and delays nine hours or more.

“Because we arrived long after nine hours at our destination…it’s $500,” Ms. Butt said. But now they’re telling us no, no, you’re only entitled to $125. »

“To date, no one from Flair has called us. They’ve sent us a bunch of emails, but it’s going around in circles because it seems no one is actually reading the information we’ve given them. »

Other Flair customers voiced similar concerns on a Facebook group, though some also reiterated the airline’s refund plans for booked flights.

The passenger bill of rights states that travelers who receive a refund are entitled to less compensation. But Mr Lukacs of Travelers Rights says this only applies when the customer rebooks with the same airline or refuses to rebook. If they opt to travel with another carrier, the rule has no bearing, he explained.

“Airlines like to play this game of insisting on reimbursing passengers rather than providing them with alternative transportation,” he said.

Mr. Lukacs also pointed out that compensation issues in Canadian aviation were not unique to Flair.

“It’s a larger systemic problem. »