Vacation disaster (advice needed)

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by nyrak, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. nyrak

    nyrak Active Member

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    I'm wondering if anyone has had a case similar to this, and what they did. Some people I've talked to have recommended suing, but I'm not so sure about that, unless it'll really get us somewhere....

    My parents left on vacation yesterday for Hawaii. They were supposed to fly from Vancouver to Kona at 3:30 yesterday afternoon. I came home from work last night to a phone message, left at 5:40pm saying they were still in Vancouver airport, had been bumped from their flight, now had to fly to Maui last night, they were told they'd be put up in a hotel in Maui, and would fly on to Kona this morning. Not ideal, but they managed to cancel their hotel for last night in Kona without charge, and were taking it in stride. I got another phone call this morning from my mom, who broke down in tears several times out of exhaustion & frustration, they were still in the airport in Maui. No agent met them at the airport as promised. There was no hotel. They, along with about 10 other people bumped from their flight, spent a sleepless night in the airport, trying to rest in uncomfortable chairs, sitting on planters and even wheelchairs(!). They didn't have their luggage. And here's the real kicker - they had to pay for their flight to Kona!! Everyone else had theirs comped, but somehow Air Canada did not put theirs through. I haven't heard from them since this morning, I'm hoping they're resting in Kona now.

    I've told them to keep the receipts for EVERYTHING, hopefully they'll at least get reimbursed for the flight from Maui to Kona. They also lost a day's rental of the car they had reserved. I think the airline should reimburse that too.

    They've been looking forward to this trip for almost a year, it was to celebrate my mom's recent 65th birthday....I'm so disappointed & frustrated/sympathetic for them. I hope AIR CANADA will do something to make up for this mess....

    Thanks in advance.:dog:
     
  2. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

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    Did they have insurance for this trip? One of my co-workers was supposed to go to Puerto Rico at the same time that Sandy occured, so she had to cancel, but IIRC she didn't lose any money because she had travel insurance.
     
  3. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    I would recommend talking to an attorney to see if they can be compensated for the expenses and all the trouble they had to endure.
     
  4. jl22aries

    jl22aries Active Member

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    Not sure the flight from Maui to Kona is worth the price of legal council. I understand the frustration on principal though. Trip Cancellation Insurance is the way to go..I hope they purchased some. Otherwise, have they tried asking for different Air Canada representatives, if the one they're communicating with isn't finding them the solution they want. With all things customer service related, sometimes it's as simple as asking for another staff. Good luck.
     
  5. m_roulston

    m_roulston New Member

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    I would tell them to ask to speak to an Air Canada manager at the airport and then explain what happened as calmly as possible and show all the receipts for the expenses they incurred. If the manager does not offer to compensate them, I would ask for Air Canada's customer service address and email and send both a letter and an email to customer service along with copies of receipts. While they may not get monetary compensation, I would think that Air Canada would be willing to give them a voucher good for money off their next flight or possibly frequent flyer miles.
     
  6. JasperBoy

    JasperBoy Well-Known Member

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    Nyrak, all I could think of while I was reading your message was....They must have flown Air Canada.

    Unless your parents bought trip interruption insurance from Air Canada, I suspect the airline will do nothing to help. But it is certainly worth pursuing by mail. Make sure they keep copies and records of all communications.

    My only suggestion would be to fly WestJet next time.
     
  7. nyrak

    nyrak Active Member

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    Thanks for all the advice, they have insurance, but must not have thought it would be good for the flight or hotel because they never mentioned trying, and ended up paying.....I'll tell them to maybe go to the airport early on the way home & ask to talk to someone from Air Canada. They did get a $200 voucher each for being bumped - everyone who was bumped did - but everyone else got their flight from Maui to Kona paid for. They should at least be reimbursed for that, and the lost days car rental.

    Hi JasperBoy! Yes it was Air Canada. Up until this weekend I preferred AC over WJ, but I'd never had a problem with them either....one of the lucky ones I guess ;) The ended up flying to Maui on West Jet. I'm assuming they'll still be with AC on the way home...
     
  8. pollyanna

    pollyanna Well-Known Member

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    Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought both USA and Canada had customer bill of rights (I think it's called tariff in Canada).

    http://www.cta-otc.gc.ca/eng/canadian-transportation-agency-releases-a-new-tariff-repository-help-air-travellers-make-informed-ch

    http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/before/gcc_tariffs.html

    http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/before/documents/us_section6.pdf

    See specifically Rule 245AC, pages AC 28, AC 31, AC 32 and AC 35.

    It appears they followed the rules when issuing the $200 voucher, but did not when they failed to pay for the flight from Maui to Kona. But I am no expert, so good luck.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  9. Garden Kitty

    Garden Kitty Tranquillo

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    If they don't get any luck with the customer service contacts, try sending a copy of the letter to AC headquarters addressed to the president or some other senior executive. Provide copies of the receipts as well as a clear statement of other attempts with AC to get the money paid. The senior office willl usually just bounce the letter to someone in customer service, but sometimes it gets more attention when the letter is "bounced down".

    I would think they should have the airfare reimbursed, but I think they would have a harder time with the rental car fees and that they'd need to look to their own trip insurance for those fees.
     
  10. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    This is typical Air Canada. I've found that the best course of action is to phone customer service or speak to someone at the airport and firmly but politely explain what's happened and tell them exactly what action you expect from them (ie compensation, flight credit, etc).

    About a year ago when various unions were taking job action, I was sitting at the gate waiting for my flight to Hong Kong to board when the entire flight crew walked off the plane (with many of them smirking I might add). It was a complete nightmare - thank goodness for laptops and cell phones to sort the mess out, get us on a Cathay Pacific flight, rebook our connecting flight to Thailand (which was a breeze, thank you Bangkok Airways) and find a last minute hotel room in Hong Kong, not to mention find our luggage and get it to another terminal.

    Once it was all sorted I phoned Air Canada and after a very long wait was told they had rebooked us on a flight the next day. I told them that was unacceptable because I would miss the business meetings I was due to attend, and that they needed to process a full refund with no penalties immediately, which they did. I didn't bother to try and get compensation for the extra night in Hong Kong because by that time I was too exhausted to do battle.

    At the end of the call, I said "I realize this is not your fault, but you need to know that I am never flying Air Canada again, and I will tell anyone who asks exactly why." The service rep actually said she understood.

    The people I really felt sorry for that day were all the people who appeared to be headed home on that flight - it's hard enough to deal with this kind of crap, but if English is not your first language and you are not used to the nightmare that is air travel, it must be awful.
     
  11. BreakfastClub

    BreakfastClub Active Member

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    I feel sorry for your parents but why in the world would they have boarded any flight in Vancouver without an onward ticket to Kona if the trip was purchased as one ticket/transaction through Air Canada? When you are bumped from a flight or canceled for whatever reason, the airline should rebook and re-ticket you through to your final destination. If the flight to Kona was a separate purchase from the flight on Air Canada to Hawai'i then I'm afraid they may be SOL (it sounds like this may have been the case if others were "comped"). Also if you are bumped from a flight you should receive compensation. Air Canada may have screwed up but something's not right and it sounds like your parents are novice travelers who didn't see obvious potential mistakes/red flags.

    Word to the wise: in this day and age, check-in online as early as you can if it's important to you that you are not bumped from an overbooked flight.
     
  12. JasperBoy

    JasperBoy Well-Known Member

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  13. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    Most attorneys give fee initial consultation in the USA; not sure what they do in Canada. They can at least find out if they have a case, without spending money.
     
  14. nyrak

    nyrak Active Member

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    They, especially my father, are on the naive side and haven't travelled a lot. This is definitely their first time being bumped or having any sort of trouble with the airline. There was no flight from Vancouver to Kona leaving until the next day, so they, along with all the other bumpees, were put on a West Jet flight to Maui, with the promise of a hotel for overnight & a flight to Kona in the morning. I think my mom said they had some kind of voucher for the flight to Kona, for some reason theirs wouldn't go through, and they had to pay.

    Anyway, I got an email earlier today from them, saying they were rested, felt a lot better & were ready to start enjoying their vacation. It was brief, but I replied with some of the advice given here. I'll keep you posted as to how it turns out.

    JasperBoy - won't be in London, but definitely will be in Saint John in October....provided Air Canada gets us there! ;) :p
     
  15. Lilia A

    Lilia A Well-Known Member

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    My father has a very interesting story with Air Canada.

    It happened about 5 or 6 years ago. He booked a flight to somewhere in the US (can't remember where, somewhere in the mid west) and Air Canada only had one flight to this city every day, departure time at around 10am. Anyway, he showed up at the airport and is told by an agent that the flight was cancelled at the last minute: no matter how many times he asked why they refused to give him an explanation. The weather was good (on both cities and the surrounding areas), no mention of mechanical difficulties with the plane, no explanation whatsoever. He found out that United Airlines had a flight to the same city about an hour after the scheduled Air Canada flight. He asked if he could get placed on that flight (since Air Canada and United have an alliance) but the agents said no, the best they could offer was a ticket for the following day.

    There was one problem though, he had a very important business meeting the following day at 9am, and the Air Canada flight didn't depart from Toronto until 10am. He explained the situation but the agents still refused to transfer him to United. So he had no other choice than to purchase his own ticket on United, an extra 2500 dollars (that was the cheapest seat available, the rest were business class seats for over 4000 dollars). My dad is a lawyer so he wasn't going to settle with that.

    Once he returned home, he wrote a letter of complaint to the company's HQ in Quebec I believe. He had also filed a claim at a small claims court and included all documents with the letter sent to AC. About a week later he received a phone call from AC's legal department. They made a deal: my dad would drop the lawsuit in exchange for them reimbursing the United Airlines airfare, the original Air Canada ticket he purchased, as well as the legal fees he paid for filing the small claim. So he did, and he got his money back.

    I realize it's not always that simple. My dad is an experienced attorney so it was easy for him to file the claim without paying for legal assistance. Your parents are definitely entitled to reimbursement for the Maui-Kona flight. If they don't want to file a formal lawsuit they can try writing a letter of complaint to AC's HQs and see what happens. Then again I'm no expert when it comes to that (I mean, I get jitters every time I have to return something at Wal Mart, so that should give you an idea).
     
  16. madm

    madm Active Member

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    Many years ago we had an experience being "stranded in Hawaii". When I called work to tell them our plane had broken down and we had to wait for a spare part to be flown in from the mainland, I heard sympathy first and then laughter. How bad can it be being stranded in paradise?! Anyway, we were coming home in December on a United flight from Kona to Hilo to Los Angeles to Denver. The Kona-Hilo leg seemed fine until the flaps they put down for landing would not retract. The plane could not be flown to LA. There was only one flight a day scheduled and hence no replacement plane to be had. United put us up in a low-end hotel for 2 nights, and still the part was not installed per a mechanic they'd flown in from Honolulu. It was raining continuously and not pleasant (unlike Kona where it was sunny). I took matters into my own hands and decided to pay for an island-hopper flight on Aloha Airlines to get us to Honolulu. The best chance of getting home was from there, and we put ourselves on standby on the United flights that night. We had 12 hours to roam around Honolulu with a rental car, which was fun. Luckily we got on the flight that night and subsequently got home 2 days late. I worked it out with United later to get reimbursed for the Aloha flight. Fortunately we are experienced travelers and have visited Hawaii many times, so we were familiar with the flight options we could pursue. The bottom line is that you have to look out for yourself and not rely on the airlines to bail you out when things go wrong. I always put airline toll free phone numbers into my phone when I travel so that I can call them if needed during a trip to help me out. They are usually more capable and speedier than local customer service reps about getting you rebooked.
     
  17. nyrak

    nyrak Active Member

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    Thanks for all the advice everyone. They're home now, talked to an Air Canada rep in Vancouver airport on the way home. The lady was very pleasant & helpful, she said that AC was aware of the situation (8 other people were bumped too), said it was a major miscommunication, shouldn't have happened and they were expecting complaints (duh!) and were willing to compensate for any expenses. They sent a letter with receipts on Monday night, just waiting to hear back. Will keep you posted.