- Category: Economic
- Published Friday, January 29, 2016
- CTV News
A pregnant Ontario woman who cancelled a trip to the Bahamas over concerns about the Zika virus can now get a full refund for the $3,700 trip.
In a statement to CTV News, Sunwing confirmed that the company has modified their policy amid concerns about the Zika virus, which has spread to several countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.
“We have since modified our policy and are now allowing customers to make changes to their travel plans for no additional fees or cancel their trip for a full refund, provided they have a doctor’s note,” the company’s senior marketing director Jacqueline Grossman wrote in an email.
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."
When Lemay followed up with a telephone customer service representative, she was initially denied the refund because she had not purchased travel insurance.
“At the time of her call Sunwing had not yet formalized our policy as it relates to Zika so the customer service representative denied the refund on the basis that Ms. Lemay did not have travel insurance or protection,” Grossman wrote.
After the news broke, Sunwing got in touch with Lemay to inform her of the policy change. A spokesperson confirmed that Lemay has been directed to company’s customer service department to administer the refund.
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.
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."