Five days after my open letter to the airline's after-sales team, we quickly established that:
1. Phone tag has no redeeming qualities.
2. Requiring me to email scanned copies of boarding passes was pointless and unnecessary.
3. Customer relations personnel need to be more attentive to meeting the needs of families when aircraft are changed at the last minute...etc.
Yes, yes and yes. "But what about the refund?" I asked, reiterating the only point I have been trying to make: When a family pays to sit together, and the aircraft and seat layouts change -- making it impossible for the family to sit together -- the family should at least get their money back. Simple.
I know all about the refund runaround. We all do. It is customer relations' job to avoid giving money back. I get that. But when you pay for something, and you don't get that thing, well, the end result isn't debatable.
Apparently, however, these situations need to be looked at "on a case-by-case basis," the supervisor said, allowing that "we need to be better at applying our judgement."
"There's no judgement involved," I countered, again stating the obvious: Groups travelling together book seats together because they want to sit together. If they can't sit together, but paid to do so, they should get a refund. Automatically. It doesn't matter if the seat numbers are the same, as they were with us. It's the intent of the booking that must be honoured.
"What would be ideal would be to advise you of the change in advance so we can make arrangements before you get to the airport," the supervisor continued.
"But that doesn't matter," I replied, pointing out that I wouldn't rebook a family flight at the last minute unless we were slated to dangle from a wing. "The Moops" indeed.
Gradually, however, we started making progress. "We will take more caution to analyze cases and listen to passengers based on their reasoning," the supervisor said, "instead of saying, 'Nope, you were rebooked as equivalent' -- meaning with the same seat number -- 'so you're not entitled to a refund.'"
It soon became clear that this was as far as I was going to get: Air Transat won't automatically grant refunds in cases like ours, but they won't automatically dismiss them either.
Is that progress? It is if you believe this will actually happen. Just to be sure, please email me if Air Transat turns you down for a refund in a case like this, and I'll remind them of their pledge.