Sunwing Vacations has come under scrutiny for telling passengers they would be compensated a far lower amount than is legally obligated for their missing and lost luggage.
The travel company told multiple passengers that it would compensate them up to USD$450 — roughly CAD$600 — for what they spent to replace necessary items in luggage that did not arrive at their destinations.
Sunwing has since “revised” that amount to CAD$2,000 — much closer to the CAD$2,300 maximum outlined in Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations that airlines must compensate for lost luggage.
“There is no legal basis for (the USD$450 amount),” Gábor Lukács, president of advocacy organization Air Passenger Rights, told Global News. “It’s simply fraud.”
Air Passenger Rights called the initial lower amount Sunwing put up as “misinformation” on Twitter.
The problem, though, is that many passengers don’t know what their rights are, Lukács said, and extremely complex rules don’t help.
Julian Rizhanovsky is one traveller who had no idea that airlines are legally obligated to compensate for up to $2,300. He told Global News that his two friends did not receive their luggage from Sunwing when they arrived in Cuba and have already spent around USD$750 over two days replacing essential items from their luggage, given the high tourist prices in the country.
“We didn’t get dropped off in Florida where we can pick up $10 T-shirts,” he said. “There was none of that.”
It was only after Rizhanovsky explained his friends’ situation on Twitter that Sunwing replied with the “revised” compensation amount.
“Apologies for the confusion,” Sunwing responded Thursday. “The maximum for necessities purchase at destination (for delayed or lost luggage) has been revised to $2000CAD per person. Please keep your receipts and submit them upon your return.”
Global News has contacted Sunwing for an explanation of the changing amount but did not receive a reply by the time of publication.
On Wednesday, Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra said on Twitter that he is “very concerned with the current situation with Sunwing Airlines” regarding reported lack of communication.
“This ongoing situation is unacceptable,” he said. “Passengers have rights.”
Sunwing has been plagued with issues in recent weeks that have left travellers stranded in multiple countries.
On Thursday the airline said it was sending dozens of flights to Mexico to bring home thousands of passengers left stranded after winter storms disrupted operations.
Also on Thursday, Sunwing announced it was cancelling all flights in and out of Saskatchewan until Feb. 4, 2023, with “immediate effect.” The company said in a statement it had no choice but to pause all operations out of the Regina and Saskatchewan airports and that all travellers would receive a refund within 30 days.