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Edmonton couple receives $1,800 from WestJet after filing complaint under new passenger rights rules

A pilot taxis a Westjet Boeing 737-700 plane to a gate after arriving at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014. .
A pilot taxis a Westjet Boeing 737-700 plane to a gate after arriving at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

An Edmonton couple that says they were bumped off a flight for their honeymoon in July has now been compensated by WestJet for the inconvenience and says Canada’s new Air Passenger Protection Regulations helped them address the problem.

“The process takes time,” Chelsea Williamson told Global News on Thursday. “I felt pretty strongly that I had a good argument to begin with. I think that’s why I reached out to WestJet through the various outlets available and then made the complaint to the CTA (Canadian Transportation Agency).

“When I chatted with the CTA, the investigator who was working with me thought I presented a very clear, straightforward argument to the airline company and she didn’t see any issues with what I was asking the airline company to do,” Williamson said of the process. “She wasn’t making a judgment call, saying, ‘You’re right, you’re wrong,’ she was just saying, ‘You know, the way I’m reading it and the way you’re presenting it, I think the airline should respond favourably.'”

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Williamson and her husband have each been given $900 by WestJet for their trouble.

Williamson complained to WestJet after she said she and her husband arrived at the airport gate for their July 22 flight from Edmonton to Venice but were told they no longer had seats on the flight.

Williamson said the couple was placed on different flights that arrived in Venice five hours later than originally scheduled.

“While abroad in Italy I contacted WestJet via direct Twitter message where I received information that a change of aircraft and overselling of tickets by WestJet’s partner airline, Delta, was the cause for the change in our itinerary,” Williamson said last month.

READ MORE: Investigation underway after Edmonton couple bumped from WestJet flight

Watch below: (From August 2019) The Canadian Transportation Agency has launched an inquiry into WestJet policies following a complaint from an Edmonton couple.

Investigation underway after Edmonton couple bumped from WestJet flight
Investigation underway after Edmonton couple bumped from WestJet flight

She said when she came back from her honeymoon, WestJet guest support told her the airliner had changed the aircraft to a smaller one with fewer seats, which caused her and her husband being bumped from the flight.

“Anytime any new rules are put into place there’s going to be some learning curves so I’m hoping that our case was just one of those,” Williamson said.

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“I think it was definitely a learning moment for WestJet.”

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The first phase of Canada’s new Air Passenger Protection Regulations took effect on July 15. The first of the new regulations cover compensation for being denied boarding (being bumped), delays on the apron and damaged luggage.

READ MORE: Canada’s air passenger ‘bill of rights’ comes into effect Monday. Here’s what it means for you

Watch below: (From July 2019) Canadian airline passengers are hoping they’ll feel a little less turbulence with the bill, intended to compensate inconvenienced travellers. But as Julia Foy reports, critics are questioning just how effective it will be.

A new passenger bill of rights takes flight on Monday
A new passenger bill of rights takes flight on Monday

“It definitely helped us out,” Williamson said of the new rules.

“[The CTA investigator I dealt with] said it’s really up to the airline and whether they choose to acknowledge it (the mistake) in the informal process, and had I not been satisfied with WestJet’s response informally, then I could have taken my argument to the formal adjudication process where the CTA would have made an actual decision.

“So in terms of the air passenger regulations, without them we definitely would not have gotten the compensation because I wouldn’t have had an argument for it.”

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Williamson said WestJet has apologized to her for what happened over the phone.

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“They had called me personally after the CTA had reached out to them on my behalf, apologizing for what had happened and how the staff weren’t aware of, I guess, how… [what] was happening was in alignment with… some of the new rights with the air passenger regulations,” she said.

“And then they were very speedy about getting us the compensation as soon as possible.”

–With files from Global News’ Simon Little and Slav Kornik

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