Westjet has announced that it will begin providing cash refunds rather than travel vouchers to those whose flights were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The refunds will apply to flights cancelled by Westjet and its low-cost carrier Swoop during the pandemic period. The group will begin to contact eligible guests from November 2, beginning with those whose flights were cancelled at the start of the pandemic in March.
The process is expected to take six to nine months and the airline asks that guests wait to be contacted in order to avoid overloading the contact centre.
Ed Sims, President and CEO of Westjet, commented:
“We are an airline that has built its reputation on putting people first. We have heard loud and clear from the travelling public that in this Covid world they are looking for reassurance on two fronts: the safest possible travel environment; and refunds.
“We have been delivering on a safe environment through our Safety Above All programme since the onset of the pandemic and as of Monday, November 2, we will proactively provide refunds to original form of payment to itineraries cancelled by Westjet and Swoop.”
The airline also claimed to be the first national carrier in Canada to voluntarily provide refunds, a statement disputed by Air Canada on Twitter.
Misleading statement! @WestJet is just now catching up to our policy to refund refundable fares. We have already refunded over $1.2 Billion in refundable fares to date.
— Air Canada (@AirCanada) October 21, 2020
Earlier this month Lufthansa announced it had paid out over €3 billion to more than seven million customers, while Emirates had returned more than US$1.4 billion in Covid-19-related travel refunds by September.
Westjet also recently announced that it would extend status benefits within its frequent flyer programme, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.