Sunwing slapped with hefty fine for poor service

Bad service and poor communication, elements many airline passengers encounter frequently.

But this time around at least, a company will have to make good on the bad service.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) today issued a statement pointing the figer at charter airline Sunwing for "widespread service issues" experienced by passengers on flights to or from Toronto Pearson International Airport or Montréal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, between April 14th and 18th of last year.

The total cost of fines to the airline is $694,500.

The CTA found that Sunwing did not properly apply its scheduled international tariff rules in respect of:

Flight delays, including the provision of hotel and meal vouchers to passengers;

Communication, including communication on flight status and information about delayed or lost baggage; and tarmac delays.

Additionally, the CTA found that the Montreal Convention applies to any Sunwing baggage and delay claim related to this event. The CTA also found that, in circumstances such as these, the airline is responsible for any failings by its agents who provide services on its behalf.

For their violations, Sunwing is being asked to compensate passengers for out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a consequence of its failure to properly apply the terms and conditions set out in its Scheduled International Tariff no later than June 28, 2019.

Sunwing must also compensate passengers for reasonable expenses incurred as a result of flight delays experienced by passengers or loss, damage or delay to passengers' baggage.

They include expenses for hotel accommodations, transfers to hotels and meal expenses incurred as a result of the delay.

The ruling was a result of 574 complaints filed by individual passengers and the airline must make every effort to contact the passengers and settle expense claims individually with all passengers who are owed compensation, whether or not they submitted complaints. 

In a statement released by the CTA, Chair and CEO Scott Streiner was satisfied with the penalties handed down to Sunwing. 

"This is a significant determination for air passengers and air carriers.  It underscores that passengers have rights and recourse when their air travel is disrupted, and that even when problems stem from events such as bad weather, there is a minimum standard of treatment to which all passengers are entitled."