WestJet reverses ticket refund policy for cancelled U.S., U.K. flights

WestJet has reversed course on its stance on refunding tickets of cancelled flights for some passengers, as the Calgary-based airline is now allowing passengers on certain international routes affected by COVID-19 and the related travel ban to get their money back.

An airline spokesperson confirmed the move Friday that, in addition to previous options of changing their flights or receiving the full value of their flight in Travel Bank, passengers with eligible tickets on some international flights cancelled after the COVID-19 outbreak can now choose to accept a refund to the original form of payment."

WestJet also confirmed that passengers on affected flights who booked through a travel agency will also be eligible for refunds.

"We are proactively contacting those guests with eligible flights who have already had their refund processed to Travel Bank to allow them this additional option," the WestJet media statement said. "... WestJet has consistently provided change/cancel options to all guests impacted by the COVID-19 crisis."

Reports initially surfaced Friday from the Canadian Press that it has obtained emails sent to travel agencies notifying them of the new refund policy.

Westjet had previously complied with Canadian airlines industry standards for flights cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak, offering vouchers and flight credits to passengers. Federal transportation minister Marc Garneau had said previously that Ottawa will not require airlines to refund tickets, since such a move could potentially bankrupt air carriers already under financial duress during the COVID travel ban.

That is counter to regulations in the United States and the European Union, however, where all airlines operating in those markets have to offer refunds to jilted passengers. According to media reports, WestJet’s refund policy appears to be linked to such regulations – it supposedly only applies to passengers on flights with a U.S. or a British city as either origin or destination.