Air transport | How to trade for your journey in uncertainty

Those who thirst for travel or those who dream of vacations abroad, buy tickets and packages these days. While a host of unforeseen events can spike your vacation, here are five tips to limit the risks before you fly away.

Posted at 05.00

Isabelle Dube

Isabelle Dube
The press

Julien Arsenault

Julien Arsenault
The press

Difficult to predict prices

As if trying to choose the right time to enter the stock markets, many travel consumers try to predict the right time to buy tickets and packages. By following the price fluctuations, they wait until the last minute or plan very far in advance to get the best.

Just like in the stock market, the timing strategy with the market is not the best, according to industry experts.

“There was a price increase that did not last long,” Lyne Rose, president of Voyages Bergeron, said over the phone. It is always a matter of supply and demand. Suppliers raise prices, but if prices are too high and it does not sell, it goes down. However, it is always difficult to predict when it will happen, it is like the stock market. »

What do we advise the consumer in the context of war, rising gas prices, inflation and a pandemic?

“In this context of uncertainty, we recommend that our customers make a purchase immediately to freeze the price that interests them, to ensure availability and to have attractive prices. Whether it is for this summer, for the autumn or next winter, ”says Justin Bordeleau, co-owner and vice president of Voyages Arc-en-ciel.


Justin Bordeleau, co-owner and vice president of Voyages Arc-en-ciel

Demand is likely to exceed supply as many have postponed their trip for two years.

Justin Bordeleau, co-owner and vice president of Voyages Arc-en-ciel

“But if you order well in advance, you have to be more careful and protect yourself well,” he says.

So far, consumers have erred on the side of caution. They book at the last minute, notes Annick Guérard, President and CEO of Transat AT, during an interview with The press. “As all carriers give the consumer the flexibility to book and make last minute changes, consumers take advantage of it. We look at flights in June, we saw that they are not too full, but in the last few weeks, hop hop hop, start it in droves. ”

At Sunwing, we not only see this trend of last-minute purchases for all-inclusive travel, but also for booking tropical vacations in the fall of 2022 and even the winter of 2023.

Protect your investment

When you do not want to rely solely on the Travel Agent Customer Compensation Fund (FICAV) and its legendary slowness to get reimbursed, then what are the options? If there is not a pilot on the plane that was to transport us to Europe? If our destination changes its rules due to a new wave of COVID-19?

The travel credit card is a good option. Because it offers chargebacks, it has proven to be fast and efficient for many consumers if travel was canceled due to COVID-19 in 2020. It costs $ 110 to $ 150 depending on the cardholder’s income and family.

“We’re very careful in our way of supporting customers,” Justin Bordeleau, of Voyages Arc-en-ciel, said on the phone. They are asked to protect their investment with flexibility options or by reserving fares that allow for flexibility. »

These options cost $ 50 to $ 150 per person depending on the carrier, he explains. “It allows us to cancel our package without losing what we have invested. In the current context, we are selling many of these formulas.”

Airlines each offer their own types of airline tickets with varying levels of coverage depending on the price. “There are more characters in airline tickets, and it’s certainly costing more to have all the latitudes,” launches Lyne Rose, from Voyages Bergeron, straight ahead.


Lyne Rose, President of Voyages Bergeron

In 2019, you could take the risk of buying the cheapest ticket, even if it was still 100% non-refundable. It felt like there was less risk.

Lyne Rose, from Voyages Bergeron

A traveler wishing to make multiple risk-free connections must have all flights listed at the same time on the same ticket.

“Travelers who combine small flights not issued together do not have protection if there is a delay on the first flight and they do not show up on the second,” Justin Bordeleau emphasizes.

Variable geometry flexibility

At Air Canada, the flexible cancellation and change policy implemented during the pandemic is still in effect for all types of tickets purchased, said Pascale Déry, director of media relations, via email.

“If the airline cancels a flight or changes its schedule by more than three hours, it will offer a full refund for the original form of payment, an Air Canada travel voucher or equivalent value in Airplane points, to which is added a 65% bonus,” she wrote .

To have full flexibility with the power to cancel your trip, the price difference is amazing.

For example, with Air Canada, a non-refundable return flight from Montreal to Paris on June 14 with a return on June 21 costs $ 903.25, a suitcase included. The same refundable airfare with costs sells for $ 1995.25. The fully refundable on economy class amounts to $ 3,644.25 and allows you to cancel a reservation no later than 45 minutes before departure.

At Transat, it is impossible to cancel a flight within 24 hours of departure. For a return flight from Montreal to Paris on June 14 and return on June 21, the refundable ticket costs $ 200 $ 977.02 with a suitcase included, while the one that can be refunded free of charge more than 24 hours before departure costs $ 2358 , 02.

Prior to April 21, 2022, Air Transat customers who ordered a ticket at Eco Budget prices, the lowest ticket price without suitcase, or Eco Standard, with suitcase and seat selection included, were not eligible for a refund.

At Sunwing, the regular fare does not allow free cancellation. You must choose the flexible rate or the fixed rate. “Our worry-free protection plan, available from $ 49 per person, allows customers to cancel their trip up to three hours before departure, for any reason, and receive a refund. Part of the refund may be in the form of a Sunwing travel credit, depending on the date of the cancellation, ”explains Marie-Josée Carrière, Quebec Senior Marketing Director for Sunwing Travel Group, via email.

Check your insurance coverage

Before buying insurance, check to see if you have a travel credit card, such as World Elite, that covers travel cancellations due to illness or death. In this case, the purchase of the ticket at a very low price can be refunded without you having to take out additional insurance from the airline or other offers from the travel agent.

If you are the type who for some reason cancels a trip with a few hours notice, then it is better to buy the flight ticket or the package, which is refundable without justification.

Some travel credit cards also offer health insurance and compensate you for lost or damaged luggage. This type of insurance is also offered by various insurance companies and is offered when purchasing tickets and travel packages.

As for the insurance product specifically for COVID-19, it sells much less, notes Annick Guérard from Transat. “Apart from the USA, in all the countries where we operate, there is no longer a requirement for negative tests to travel. So now it’s up to the passenger’s discretion. If the person feels more comfortable traveling with COVID-19 insurance policies. Travel insurance is always important, but a special COVID-19 insurance if the person is vaccinated is at the person’s discretion. »

The pandemic is not over

Despite the relief, there are countries where the situation remains under surveillance. “There are still countries that still have special entry and exit conditions. This is still the case for most countries with regard to travelers who are not adequately vaccinated, ”explains Justin Bordeleau, whose travel advisors for agencies are looking for the various instructions.

Travelers who have not received two doses of the vaccine may not board a flight departing from Canada or a train.

“We have a dedicated travel requirements page on that contains up-to-date destination entry information as well as useful information for each part of the trip,” said Marie-Josée Carrière, Travel Group Sunwing.

Have repayments been made?

We have settled all refunds for customers who requested them when the policy was originally announced. A small number of requests continue to come in for validity or exception reasons; we deal with them on a case-by-case basis.

Pascale Déry, Director of Media Relations at Air Canada

Except in all very special cases beyond our control, the requested refunds of travel credits related to the pandemic are made in full.

Christophe Hennebelle, Vice-President HR and Public Affairs at Transat

Customers whose qualified non-refundable reservations were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and who submitted a refund request before the deadline have been refunded.

Marie-Josée Carrière, Senior Marketing Director Quebec for Sunwing Travel Group

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