‘We were left hanging’: Family denied compensation after delayed, missed flights

After delaying their vacation for over two years during the pandemic, Steve Torgerson, his wife, three kids and mother-in-law finally got to take their trip to Liberia, Costa Rica during Easter break in April.

The group’s plane leaving Costa Rica needed the air conditioning fixed before leaving the tarmac, causing a delay to the departure. When the family landed at Toronto Pearson Airport later that night, they were told they would miss their connecting flight to Calgary and subsequent flight back to Regina.

Torgerson said neither WestJet nor any other airlines any flights available for another few days.

“It was surprising that the company really left us hanging,” he said.

Torgerson said he understood there were no flights available but the airline would not provide his family hotel or food vouchers.

WestJet told CTV News in a statement, “The delay was following takeoff as a result of events outside of WestJet’s control.”

“We then thought it would be cheaper to rent a car than hang around in Toronto for a couple days and pay for a couple hotel rooms,” Torgerson said.

The group then drove from Toronto back to Regina.

When he returned home, Torgerson called the airline for a refund on the flights he did not take. WestJet issued him a credit of $484.87 per customer.

Air Passenger Rights is an organization which helps flyers with claims like Torgerson’s. President and Founder Gabor Lukas said a credit is not a refund.

“If you pay cash, you should get cash back,” he said. “They could give you a cake or flowers or anything. That’s not a refund.”

Lukas believes WestJet should pay for the excess expenses Torgerson incurred by failing to provide the passengers with the obligations under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR).

“They are also on the hook for the passenger’s expenses to get home,” he said.

Torgerson is battling with WestJet for compensation on the rental car, fuel and food costs he incurred to get home.

“These events happened outside of WestJet’s control,” the airline said. “Unfortunately, they did not qualify for compensation under the APPR.”

“It makes me consider not spending the $3,000 credit because I don’t know if I feel comfortable in flying with WestJet,” said Torgerson.

Torgerson has taken his claim to the Canadian Transport Agency in hopes of recovering some of the costs.

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