Pregnant Ont. woman out $3,700 after cancelling trip over Zika fears

A pregnant Ontario woman who cancelled an upcoming trip to the Bahamas over concerns about the Zika virus says she's out $3,700 after the travel company would not issue a refund or a transfer on the seven-day vacation.

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Stephanie Lemay of Niagara Falls, Ont. said she booked the Sunwing Vacation package through Expedia.ca. When she called Expedia to cancel the trip, Lemay, who's 24-weeks pregnant, said she was shocked by the response.

"We were told that we were going to lose our money for the trip, unfortunately," Lemay told CTV News Channel on Friday. "They really didn't give us many other options besides a flat out no."

Lemay said Expedia spoke to Sunwing Vacations on her behalf and she was told the company policy doesn’t allow any transfers or refunds on trips within 20 days of travelling. Lemay said she called about cancelling her vacation 19 days before she was scheduled to leave.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is recommending that pregnant women and women considering becoming pregnant discuss their travel plans with their doctor. The agency recommends that if travel plans cannot be postponed, women should take strict measures to protect themselves against mosquito bites.

In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for Sunwing Vacations said the company is requesting a medical note for travellers who have not purchased cancellation insurance and who have been advised by their doctor against travelling to areas affected by the Zika virus.

"Upon review of their individual circumstances and provided they have a medical note, Sunwing will allow customers to make changes to their travel plans for no additional fees or cancel their trip for a full refund," Jacqueline Grossman, Sunwing Vacation's senior director of marketing, said in a statement.

Air Canada, Air Transat and WestJet are allowing passengers to cancel or change their flights to destinations that have been affected by the Zika virus.

WestJet says any passenger can change or cancel a booking prior to travelling to infected areas and no medical notes are required. Air Transat says pregnant passengers with a medical note and travel companions in their immediate family can reschedule or change destinations. Air Canada is allowing woman and their travel companions to change bookings or receive a refund for trips scheduled between Jan. 28 and June 26.

Meanwhile, Lemay said she doesn't regret cancelling her vacation plans.

"I feel that as a pregnant woman this is probably the biggest chance I have to protect by unborn baby against any dangers," she said. "I didn't think it was worth taking any risk going somewhere where there could be potentially some developmental harm done to my unborn child."



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