Air Canada, WestJet waive cancellation fees for travellers affected by Trump's travel ban

Jan 29 2017, 3:19 am

There was mounting confusion throughout the day at airports around the world as national governments and airlines began reacting to US President Donald Trump’s executive order travel ban yesterday on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Canadian airlines Air Canada and WestJet reacted to the sweeping ban today by turning away passengers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. This includes any dual citizens, green card holders, and travellers with the appropriate travel visa documentation.

But both airlines say they will offer full refunds to those who are forced to cancel their flights, according to travel advisories posted today on the websites of Air Canada and WestJet. Others who have changed their destination will pay the difference in fare.

The executive order has been challenged with much backlash not just in the United States and Canada but around the world. Iran retaliated to the ban by issuing a reciprocal ban, barring all Americans from crossing its borders.

And earlier this evening, a federal judge in New York issued an emergency stay on the US federal government’s ability to deport travellers who have arrived in the US with valid visas from the ban-affected countries.

Under Trump’s travel ban, which is currently temporary and intended to block radical Islamic terrorists, citizens from the seven countries cannot enter the US over the next 90 days. Additionally, the entire refugee admittance program has been suspended for 120 days.

There have been no terror attacks in the United States since 9/11 instigated by citizens from any of the countries listed in the travel ban, but fears of terrorism have grown following the series of attacks in Europe over the past few years. Such a ban was also an election campaign promise made by Trump.

The ban effectively traps hundreds of thousands of people in the United States as they will not be able to re-enter into the country if they leave. It also particularly affects both current and prospective students studying in the US, professors who travel for research and conferences, workers who take frequent overseas business trips, and overseas tourists.

More importantly, it will split families apart, including the many families who live on both sides of the US and Canada border.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted an official policy change in Canada in reaction to Trump’s travel ban by posting a Tweet that welcomed those seeking refuge from persecution regardless of faith.

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Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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