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Denied Boarding on Air Canada flight due to staff lack of knowledge

Denied Boarding on Air Canada flight due to staff lack of knowledge

Old Jun 14, 18, 11:28 pm
  #1  
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Unhappy Denied Boarding on Air Canada flight due to staff lack of knowledge

Hi

I need to know which forum should I post my question.

Last year my aunt was denied boarding on an Air Canada flight to United States (US). I have been contacting Air Canada customer service to get a refund for the ticket since it was Air Canada's mistake, but have been unsuccessful so far, and need some guidance.

Which forum is best to explain the situation in more details and ask for guidance?

Thanks
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Old Jun 14, 18, 11:34 pm
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This thread will be moved to relevant forum.

What was the reason given for denied boarding?
Did she have a valid visa?

Last edited by Mwenenzi; Jun 14, 18 at 11:53 pm
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Old Jun 15, 18, 12:20 am
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Last year my aunt was denied boarding on an Air Canada flight to United States (US). My aunt is not a Canadian citizen, so she had to get a US visa (aka "port of entry" visa) to get into US. She applied and received her US visa with a "port of entry" period of 3 months issued by US embassy in Canada. Once she got to the airport, Air Canada denied her board the plane because Air Canada claimed the period of her visa is less than 6 month. The Air Canada staff could not distinguish the difference between a regular visa and a "port of entry" visa. Unfortunately, because my aunt could not speak English well, she could not explain the difference to them and missed her flight. Since she was in a hurry and she booked another ticket with Air Canada for the next day. Once she got to the counter again, this time the Air Canada staff apologized for their mistake in the previous day and let her board the plane with the same visa. However, the Air Canada staff did not offer her a refund for her missed ticket, and my aunt could not ask for a refund because she could not speak English well.

After a year (February 2018), with my help, she is following up with this problem to get a refund for her missed airline ticket by contacting Air Canada customer service through email. After filling out a ticket refund application on Air Canada's customer service website and providing all the necessary documents (Airline ticket invoice, related passport pages), Air Canada finally forwarded the case to the Refund Services after 3 months of follow up. It took the Refund Services more than a month to get back to her and decline her application by making the following claim:
"Please be advised that our records show that because you arrived at the counter 5 minutes prior to cut off, and there was questions concerning the validity of your visa, you would not have made it to the plane on time, so you were given a flight the next day for the additional collection and change fee."

That is absolute rubbish. My aunt arrived at the counter much earlier than 5 minutes prior to cut off, and since she had traveled with the same kind of visa to US in the past, she was confident she had all the necessary documents. So, there was no question or concern regarding the validity of her visa. Even if she had arrived 2 hours prior to cut off, she would still be denied boarding, because the only reason Air Canada staff would not let her board the plane was because Air Canada staff claimed the period of her visa (aka "port of entry" visa) was 3 months; and the Air Canada staff admitted their fault the next day. Then my aunt asked the Refund Services to provide her with a copy of their records showing that she arrived at the counter 5 minutes prior to cut off, because she did not agree with their records. However, in the last email, the Air Canada refund services wrote that they "aren’t able to assist any further with [her] request", and to "further review [her] claim [she] need to contact Customer Relations"; which takes my aunt back to the very first step of applying for ticket refund application again!

I was wondering if anybody could give an advice what should my aunt do next to receive a refund for her missed airline ticket from Air Canada?
Should my aunt apply for the refund application again? Should she take legal action against Air Canada? Is there another way to approach Air Canada?

Thanks in advance
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Old Jun 15, 18, 12:38 am
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Welcome to Flyertalk @a.arash021.

As this is specific to Air Canada, we'll move this to the AC forum for further discussion and advice.

~beckoa, co-moderator Information Desk
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Old Jun 15, 18, 5:34 am
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Trying to decipher and read between the lines...

The way I read this the passenger arrived close to the time Checkin was closing. As part of the checkin process, travel documents are verified. Since it was not a case of a straightforward valid passport, additional time was needed to verify the travel documents. By the time the travel documents were verified, the checkin deadline had passed. The passenger was denied boarding due to the checkin cutoff not being met. Therefore no denied boarding compensation is owed. Passenger then paid a change fee and additional fare to change the ticket to the next day. Passenger successfully traveled the next day.

A year or so later the passenger then requests a refund, of what I am not exactly sure, as the transaction for the new ticket was not an entire new ticket, just the correctly charged fare difference and change fee to change the first ticket from one day to the next.
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Old Jun 15, 18, 7:58 am
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Originally Posted by YYC009 View Post
Trying to decipher and read between the lines...

The way I read this the passenger arrived close to the time Checkin was closing. As part of the checkin process, travel documents are verified. Since it was not a case of a straightforward valid passport, additional time was needed to verify the travel documents. By the time the travel documents were verified, the checkin deadline had passed. The passenger was denied boarding due to the checkin cutoff not being met. Therefore no denied boarding compensation is owed. Passenger then paid a change fee and additional fare to change the ticket to the next day. Passenger successfully traveled the next day.

A year or so later the passenger then requests a refund, of what I am not exactly sure, as the transaction for the new ticket was not an entire new ticket, just the correctly charged fare difference and change fee to change the first ticket from one day to the next.
I am not certain why the cut-off time is even an issue. If she arrived at the airport and entered the line before the cut-off time then she did her part.
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Old Jun 15, 18, 8:29 am
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although not the exact same issue, i too faced a similar drama some years ago at the hands of the clueless staff on duty at the time.
in a nutshell i was returning to work in NZ (i work on a ship) and as such i had a one-way ticket from YYZ-AKL with supporting documentation to show not only was i in transit, but also that i was not remaining in NZ for any amount of time greater than that required to get from airport to ship.
on arrival at the counter, and after much back and forth i was told that i required a visa (Canadians do not need a visa to enter NZ) or i needed to have a return ticket despite me proving that i was not staying in the country.

the long and short of it all was my options were to either go home and call my company the following morning (it was a Sunday) and tell them i wasn't returning to work because i was denied boarding, or i had to purchase a fully refundable one-way ticket from AKL-YYZ to 'prove' to AC that i was leaving NZ and as such satisfied some absurd ruling despite already proving i was leaving the country on arrival. thankfully i had a credit card on hand with enough available funds to purchase the fully refundable one-way ticket which i then cancelled shortly after arrival, but its the headache and stress involved which could have been avoided had the staff present not had their heads up their backsides...and i'm a native English speaker so i can just imagine how frustrating it could have been for the OP's aunt!!
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Old Jun 15, 18, 9:08 am
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How much money are you talking about ? It's basically boiled down to he says/she says at this point. There doesn't seem to be any concrete proof and its relying on events from the past year.

You can go the legal route, but you've got to work it out if its worth it. The money spent vs refund expected
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Old Jun 15, 18, 9:47 am
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Originally Posted by Fiordland View Post
I am not certain why the cut-off time is even an issue. If she arrived at the airport and entered the line before the cut-off time then she did her part.
That's not how it works. You need to have checked in, received your boarding pass, and dropped your luggage before the cut off time.
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Old Jun 15, 18, 9:51 am
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Originally Posted by Neil791 View Post
although not the exact same issue, i too faced a similar drama some years ago at the hands of the clueless staff on duty at the time.
in a nutshell i was returning to work in NZ (i work on a ship) and as such i had a one-way ticket from YYZ-AKL with supporting documentation to show not only was i in transit, but also that i was not remaining in NZ for any amount of time greater than that required to get from airport to ship.
on arrival at the counter, and after much back and forth i was told that i required a visa (Canadians do not need a visa to enter NZ) or i needed to have a return ticket despite me proving that i was not staying in the country.

the long and short of it all was my options were to either go home and call my company the following morning (it was a Sunday) and tell them i wasn't returning to work because i was denied boarding, or i had to purchase a fully refundable one-way ticket from AKL-YYZ to 'prove' to AC that i was leaving NZ and as such satisfied some absurd ruling despite already proving i was leaving the country on arrival. thankfully i had a credit card on hand with enough available funds to purchase the fully refundable one-way ticket which i then cancelled shortly after arrival, but its the headache and stress involved which could have been avoided had the staff present not had their heads up their backsides...and i'm a native English speaker so i can just imagine how frustrating it could have been for the OP's aunt!!
I will do you one better than that


I was in Australia. My TA accidentally renewed my Australia ETA to an old passport number. I am in PER, flying to AKL.

They won't let me board as my flight leaving NZ was going BACK to Australia AFTER my ETA expired.

You cannot renew an Australia ETA while in Australia.

I too, had to book a one way refundable ticket a day prior to my ETA expiring to fly into NZ. Get my ETA cleared up and then cancelled the ticket.

In any event, these things happen. Not to rag at all on the OP, while I am sure her Aunt arrived before the cut off, she probably, cut it close, pun intended.

I cannot imagine she will get much, perhaps a 5% for your trouble.
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Old Jun 15, 18, 10:09 am
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Not being familiar with US Immigration details, what is a “port of entry” visa?

OP - you can also submit a complaint to the CTA.

https://otc-cta.gc.ca/eng/air-travel-complaints
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Old Jun 15, 18, 10:11 am
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Originally Posted by ChrisA330 View Post
That's not how it works. You need to have checked in, received your boarding pass, and dropped your luggage before the cut off time.
So at what point does the onus shift to the airline? What if you arrive 6 hours before the cutoff, but staffing levels don't allow them to get to you in time? Clearly there's a point at which it's no longer the passenger's fault.

Either way, if you arrive at the check-in counter even at T-65, and you have the required documents, I don't see how that's the passenger's fault. It seems there's a dispute over when the passenger arrived, but even if we accept AC's version, the aunt arrived in time.

I've dealt with enough ignorance from check-in agents over "visa issues" ("Sir, you need a green card to transit the US") that even I get worried when I'm completing check-in in any country outside Canada and the US, so I can appreciate how frustrating this is.
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Old Jun 15, 18, 10:15 am
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I’m not sure what you expect me to say. I didn’t write the policy, nor am I interpreting whether or not it’s “right” or “fair”.

i don’t think the OP has provided enough information for us to determine if they allowed enough time or not.
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Old Jun 15, 18, 12:01 pm
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
So at what point does the onus shift to the airline? What if you arrive 6 hours before the cutoff, but staffing levels don't allow them to get to you in time? Clearly there's a point at which it's no longer the passenger's fault.

Either way, if you arrive at the check-in counter even at T-65, and you have the required documents, I don't see how that's the passenger's fault. It seems there's a dispute over when the passenger arrived, but even if we accept AC's version, the aunt arrived in time.

I've dealt with enough ignorance from check-in agents over "visa issues" ("Sir, you need a green card to transit the US") that even I get worried when I'm completing check-in in any country outside Canada and the US, so I can appreciate how frustrating this is.
The tariff requires the passenger to complete the checkin process prior to the checkin cutoff time.
There is no onus on the airline in the tariff to complete the checkin process within a certain amount of time from when the passenger arrives.
Passengers can checkin online, at a kiosk, or with an agent. But regardless of the method chosen, the process has to be completed by the checkin cutoff time.
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Old Jun 15, 18, 3:28 pm
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Originally Posted by YYC009 View Post
The way I read this the passenger arrived close to the time Checkin was closing. As part of the checkin process, travel documents are verified. Since it was not a case of a straightforward valid passport, additional time was needed to verify the travel documents. By the time the travel documents were verified, the checkin deadline had passed. The passenger was denied boarding due to the checkin cutoff not being met. Therefore no denied boarding compensation is owed. Passenger then paid a change fee and additional fare to change the ticket to the next day. Passenger successfully traveled the next day.

A year or so later the passenger then requests a refund, of what I am not exactly sure, as the transaction for the new ticket was not an entire new ticket, just the correctly charged fare difference and change fee to change the first ticket from one day to the next.
It seems that the pax did not pay just a change fee but booked an entirely new ticket:

Since she was in a hurry and she booked another ticket with Air Canada for the next day.
... so likely is looking for a refund of the original ticket. Can OP clarify?

Unfortunately non-standard passport / visa + language barrier + checking in just before cut-off often does not equal an ideal outcome.
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