Unfortunately, yes, and without any compensation. Airline flight schedule changes are the vast majority of our complaints, and there is very seldom anything we can do about it.
It’s very important that you understand this if you intend to make a choice between two different options based on flight times. You may even decide to pay more for an option which has a better time, and later find out that it is worse than the one you decided not to book. We make the statement “flight times are subject to change at the airline’s discretion” and print it on our invoices, on our website, and on your confirmation.
The Travel Industry Act and its Regulations allow for a tour operator to change their flight times by up to 24 hours without compensation or a requirement to refund. Only if the flight time change exceeds 24 hours is the booking eligible for refund. Date changes (in excess of 24 hours) can occur on programs that have only weekly flights to smaller demand destinations. In these circumstances, you would be offered a refund if you didn’t like the change.
Schedule changes can be problematic and costly for people – including missing a day’s work, missing or paying a penalty on another pre-booked arrangement (such as a flight to another city in Canada, or a cruise or tour). It’s for this reason that we advise people making these kind of arrangements to factor in a possibility of a schedule change. It is not likely or foreseeable, but if you are flying in from another city in Canada to take a package, or arriving for a cruise or tour, an extra day on the front end of the trip is desirable.
Scheduled airlines can cancel a flight altogether, never mind just change it, and they can wreak havoc on an itinerary when it involves a connecting flight. In all cases, tripcentral.ca customer service staff and your agent will assist you in any way we can to mitigate the inconvenience, but we cannot be held financially responsible for the actions of the airlines. Travel insurance is a good idea to protect the financial losses of schedule changes, but it has limitations, and the related travel arrangements must be booked together and included in the insured amount and dates of coverage.
Booking travel components independently, through different companies, will increase the risks of financial loss due to schedule change of one of them. This is why it is best to allow tripcentral.ca agents arrange as much as possible for you as part of a comprehensive itinerary.
There really is no way to make choices in advance to eliminate or lessen the chance of receiving a schedule change. Even scheduled airlines change their flight times. The best thing to do is avoid plans that are too tight around flights (work, babysitting, other travel services) and have a contingency plan just in case.
Do airlines compensate for delays and cancelled flights?
The short answer is, very rarely. There are moves by governments around the world for tariffs on flight delays and other inconveniences – sometimes referred to as “passengers bill of rights”, but nothing has been enacted that specifies penalties for delays. Even aggregious delays are seldom settled to customers satisfactions.
The theory behind it is that airlines incur costs themselves when delays occur, and adding financial penalties will only increase the overall cost of air travel. Delays typically occur due to weather and mechanical issues. In both cases, if you think about it, it is in your interest to be happy for the delay – as the alternative is an unsafe flight! Sometimes the weather is just fine, but your flight has been affected by weather in another city, so the aircraft are stuck in weather and it causes a cascading effect on the airline’s schedule. At these times, airline scheduling teams go crazy trying to deploy other aircraft, canceling partially filled flights and shifting people around in order to optimize the overall effect.
Some delays are very long, and if they are not weather related, airlines will offer food and hotel vouchers to help offset the costs of the delay. But there are no financial awards for missed days at work, etc.
The best thing is to build some contingency into your travel itinerary in case this happens. It happens; seasoned travelers know this, and will stay calm. Getting upset and worked up will not help, and it could spoil the first few days, or the end of an otherwise terrific vacation. Some people are more affected by this than others; consider the fact that you being angry and upset can affect your traveling companions that might otherwise take it in stride. It’s always a good idea to pack a good book, and something to entertain kids in these circumstances.