Crowds, Christmas shopping, visiting friends and family - they're all a part of the holiday season. And (sometimes unfortunately), so is travelling.
Those who are lucky can hop in a car, drive a few minutes down the road and spend Christmas with their loved ones. But sometimes you have to jump on a plane to see those who matter most to you, and that's not always easy - especially during Canadian winters.
The thought of lugging your baggage through two feet of snow and waiting three hours to check in aside, plane travel isn't always the most relaxing mode of transportation during the holidays. Flights also tend to get delayed or - even worse - cancelled. In fact, by 9am today, there were already over 100 flights cancelled at Pearson Airport thanks to snowfall in the GTA.
A travel advisory listed on the top of the airport's website stated that snow is forecast and flight schedules may be impacted. Air Canada cancelled and delayed over 100 flights.
So what do you do when trouble arises? Luckily, there are ways to get a refund, but it all depends on situation, so we've listed your options for you.
When the airline cancels your flight
It will completely depend on the situation, but long story short: You don't automatically get your money back. If your flight is cancelled due to mechanical issues or a severely under-booked flight, the airline will reschedule your flight with no cost to you (or, they should). Flightbucks reports that while a free rescheduling is common, getting money back is not guaranteed, and you may only have a short window of time to request the refund.
For disrupted international flights from Europe, WestJet compensates its passengers with up to 600 Euro (just over 900 Canadian).
When the flight is cancelled because of the weather
The good news is that you will probably get a heads up that your flight will be delayed or cancelled if bad weather is forecast. The bad news is that if it is cancelled due to a storm, airlines are not required to offer compensation to passengers. However, they're usually extremely accommodating and will change your flight or get you on a different plane.
If you think the weather is going to affect your flight, call up as soon as you can to reschedule. Phone lines and websites can become completely overwhelmed in the hours right before a storm hits.
When the missed flight is your fault
Shit happens. Missing a flight is never a good way to start off a holiday, but having to pay the $100+ fee to reschedule it is worse. You can get a refundable ticket, but that will almost always cost you more upfront. Though it's definitely a good idea to purchase one if your plans aren't ironclad. Airlines will never refund you for a missed flight unless you have a refundable ticket, or are willing to pay the extra money to move the flight.
If any of this happens to you over the holidays, your best point of contact is a phone call to the airline as soon as possible. Find out what the refund policies are and request a refund while you have a customer service representative on the line.
Here's to hoping your travels are trouble-free this holiday season.