Travel

Air Canada backtracks on promised $800 compensation to passenger on overbooked flight, offers 15% future credit instead

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  • Feb 11th, 2019 11:18 am
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Air Canada backtracks on promised $800 compensation to passenger on overbooked flight, offers 15% future credit instead

Normally I am somewhat understanding to airlines and changed happen but this is just wrong especially when the $800 offer was noted in his file and endless excuses

https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/air-ca ... -1.4998780

Toronto man is fighting back after Air Canada failed to honour a deal to compensate him with an $800 voucher for giving up his seat on an overcrowded plane from Vancouver to Toronto — instead, emailing him a promotion code for a 15 per cent discount on a future flight.

Daniel Tsai said he couldn't believe what he was reading when he opened the Air Canada email offering the discount instead of the airline's previous $800 offer.


He wrote back to the airline, pointing out that the deal was for an $800 voucher, and that's what he expected to receive.

Air Canada replied, acknowledging that Tsai had indeed been offered an $800 voucher, but claiming he had been "moved to an earlier flight," so the 15 per cent discount stood.

Tsai denies he was moved to an earlier flight, and provided his boarding passes, which showed his new flight was scheduled to depart more than six hours later than his original departure time.

The Air Canada email said the airline was offering $300 for future travel as a "goodwill gesture."

"I think that's just wrong," says Tsai, who is a business lawyer and part-time professor at Humber College Business School, where he teaches business law and marketing.

"As a business professor, I consider that to be a marketing fail," he says. "I give Air Canada an F."
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I think that is one thing Westjet doesnt get enough credit for over Air Canada. Westjet doesnt overbook flights like Air Canada does. Westjet has tried to market that fact but most people dont really care or notice until you get bumped off your flight when you just want to get home.

That happened to me on a Air Canada flight from MTL to TOR last year. There were like 50+ of us on stand by because the flight was really over sold. This poor couple ahead of me at the gate, just came from ACC customer service desk, waited through a long line at the gate and the gate told them to go to customer service, brutal. My work travel agent who originally booked me on that AC flight then rebooked me on Westjet and I got home and was thankful.

That same trip to MTL, I got bumped by Westjet by an hour and I almost missed my meeting, they gave me a $150 in Westjet dollars without me even asking. I wasnt going to ask, so I give Westjet a lot of credit.

Westjet customer service seems to be going downhill from what Ive read but from my experience it still miles ahead of Air Canada. But to reneg on a verbal agreement with a customer, that has to be a new low. We need to follow the EU and provide protection for the customer so this is less likely to happen when companies put profits ahead of customers.
Last edited by Jaytee on Feb 14th, 2019 1:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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I’ve seen AC flights in the near future (a few days away) so overbooked (as in -23 seats) and they continued to sell the flight. A consumer would never know thisblittle surprise- that’s what makes it wrong in my eyes.

I am in the minority that I don’t find Westjet’s customer service any better or any worse then any other airline.
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It should be $400 at 6 hours an under, and $800 (min) above 6 hours (+1 min for clarity). The only way that AC would have ground is if they moved him to an earlier flight, which then got delayed. But I doubt that was the case.

My first year traveling I was naive. I had a preferred seat, took the offer, and at the very last minute they no longer needed to put me on a later flight as there were some other pax that didn't make it on time. Not only did they give my preferred seat away, I was in the middle seat of the last row.

I encourage everyone to get familiar with the tariffs. Just last week, with the cancellations due to weather, I requested an Air Canada concierge (they are supposed to know more than most staff) to put me on another flight with another airline from a different alliance. They initially refused, and I had to press them.
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McKinsey wrote:
Feb 4th, 2019 9:04 am
It should be $400 at 6 hours an under, and $800 (min) above 6 hours (+1 min for clarity). The only way that AC would have ground is if they moved him to an earlier flight, which then got delayed. But I doubt that was the case.

My first year traveling I was naive. I had a preferred seat, took the offer, and at the very last minute they no longer needed to put me on a later flight as there were some other pax that didn't make it on time. Not only did they give my preferred seat away, I was in the middle seat of the last row.

I encourage everyone to get familiar with the tariffs. Just last week, with the cancellations due to weather, I requested an Air Canada concierge (they are supposed to know more than most staff) to put me on another flight with another airline from a different alliance. They initially refused, and I had to press them.
What is the rules with regards to compensation (if any) in your case where you volunteered (or not) to alternative flight but they end up not needing you but give you a crappy seat on original (or alternate) flight?

I was on CX before from yyz-hkg-kul in PE and they were asking for volunteers with compensation of J class and $500 credit on later flight which we did (2 of us), ended up not needing us but they still upgrade us to J for the yyz-hkg-kul segments and gave us $150 credit
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Actually, he accepted $600, not $800. Then later it was noted on his file it was $800. So he went with the assumption it was $800 after that.

Either way though, as said in the article, major marketing fail on Air Canada's part. Not only does it provide them a ton of negative publicity, it also means that fewer people would be inclined to give up their seats, knowing that Air Canada might just reneg on the deal.

What makes it even worse is that then they tried to bargain, after being called out on it. First it was $300 (as a "goodwill" gesture) when he proved he didn't get moved to an earlier flight, then it was $500 after a third party organization started investigating, and finally it was $800, even though they initially offered $600 and then documented $800 on his account.
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EugW wrote:
Feb 4th, 2019 11:27 am
Actually, he accepted $600, not $800. Then later it was noted on his file it was $800. So he went with the assumption it was $800 after that.

Either way though, as said in the article, major marketing fail on Air Canada's part. Not only does it provide them a ton of negative publicity, it also means that fewer people would be inclined to give up their seats, knowing that Air Canada might just reneg on the deal.

What makes it even worse is that then they tried to bargain, after being called out on it. First it was $300 (as a "goodwill" gesture) when he proved he didn't get moved to an earlier flight, then it was $500 after a third party organization started investigating, and finally it was $800, even though they initially offered $600 and then documented $800 on his account.
Or perhaps a friendly agent chose to give him $800 instead of $600. That happened to me with Delta. A flight was overbooked but another flight would get me to my destination at the exact same time, but had a different connecting city. I was offered $200. I asked for $400 but she said she couldn't do it. So I accepted the $200. The agent then told me because it was Christmas she'd give me the $400.

We don't know for sure if the jump from $600 to $800 was a mistake or intentional. Either way, obviously someone within AC saw the $800 and chose to take it away from him. That's just wrong and I can't see any scenario where it wouldn't be a breach of contract.
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I have to say, don't take it out on the poor people working the gates. I watched a line of people, take turns yelling and screaming at the gate workers. One worker looked like they were going to cry and the other one looked they were going to stab someone.

They dont control the weather, they cant control mechanical failures, they don't create stupid corporate policies. I get it, it can be incredibly stressful, but don't take it out on them. If anything, they are the few people that can potentially help you.
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Jaytee wrote:
Feb 4th, 2019 5:54 am
I think that is one thing Westjet doesnt get enough credit for over Air Canada. Westjet doesnt overbook flights like Air Canada does. Westjet has tried to market that fact but most people dont really care or notice until you get bumped off your flight when you just want to get home.

That happened to me on a Air Canada flight from MTL to TOR last year. There were like 50+ of us on stand by because the flight was really over sold. This poor couple ahead of me at the gate, just come from ACC customer service desk, waited through a long line at the gate and the gate told them to go to customer service, brutal. My work travel agent who originally booked me on that AC flight then rebooked me on Westjet and I got home and was thankful.

That same trip to MTL, I got bumped by Westjet by an hour and I almost missed my meeting, they gave me a $150 in Westjet dollars without me even asking. I wasnt going to ask, so I give Westjet a lot of credit.

Westjet customer service seems to be going downhill from what Ive read but from my experience it still miles ahead of Air Canada. But to reneg on a verbal agreement with a customer, that has to be a new low. We need to follow the EU and provide best protection for the customer so this is less likely to happen when companies put profits ahead of customers.
I think WestJet's rapid growth and expansion may be contributing to a customer service culture more closely resembling their counterparts as you have suggested. When they were the 'little guys' it seemed like they had to try harder and they did. They seem to be losing that to some extent but I will still select them over AC every time in scenarios of competitive pricing and schedules.
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Shaner wrote:
Feb 4th, 2019 12:07 pm
Or perhaps a friendly agent chose to give him $800 instead of $600. That happened to me with Delta. A flight was overbooked but another flight would get me to my destination at the exact same time, but had a different connecting city. I was offered $200. I asked for $400 but she said she couldn't do it. So I accepted the $200. The agent then told me because it was Christmas she'd give me the $400.

We don't know for sure if the jump from $600 to $800 was a mistake or intentional. Either way, obviously someone within AC saw the $800 and chose to take it away from him. That's just wrong and I can't see any scenario where it wouldn't be a breach of contract.
Delta empowers their gate agents to make decisions like this. AC is mostly just cheap and most of their GA just don't care.
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GateGuardian wrote:
Feb 4th, 2019 3:34 pm
Delta empowers their gate agents to make decisions like this. AC is mostly just cheap and most of their GA just don't care.
Interesting. Delta is a weird airline. When my wife and I were supposed to go to New York, there was an agitated passenger at Pearson who required security to intervene. Long story short, they wouldn't let anyone else check-in. Some people were re-booked on other flights and others were just given travel vouchers ($1,000 each in our case O_o).
Conquistador wrote:
Feb 4th, 2019 1:17 pm
I think WestJet's rapid growth and expansion may be contributing to a customer service culture more closely resembling their counterparts as you have suggested. When they were the 'little guys' it seemed like they had to try harder and they did. They seem to be losing that to some extent but I will still select them over AC every time in scenarios of competitive pricing and schedules.
I would love to give WestJet more business, but the Star Alliance is our preferred transatlantic supplier at work and they let us accrue points personally, so AC always wins for me :(.
Jaytee wrote:
Feb 4th, 2019 1:07 pm
I have to say, don't take it out on the poor people working the gates. I watched a line of people, take turns yelling and screaming at the gate workers. One worker looked like they were going to cry and the other one looked they were going to stab someone.

They dont control the weather, they cant control mechanical failures, they don't create stupid corporate policies. I get it, it can be incredibly stressful, but don't take it out on them. If anything, they are the few people that can potentially help you.
The old adage of "if they can't be nice to a service worker, they're not worth marrying" comes to mind. It's never worth blowing your top on the front line staff, especially at an airport. The best case scenario is you make a dick of yourself and maybe get what you want. Worst case scenario, you get escorted out by security or the police.
Last edited by unshavenyak on Feb 4th, 2019 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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If it were me, I would have taken Air Canada to small claims.

A verbal contract is just as enforceable, in this case, as a written one. I would seek disclosure from Air Canada as to the amount noted in the passenger's name on their system as proof, but I have no doubt Air Canada would 'cave' and give in before going to trial.
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StatsGuy wrote:
Feb 4th, 2019 11:18 am
What is the rules with regards to compensation (if any) in your case where you volunteered (or not) to alternative flight but they end up not needing you but give you a crappy seat on original (or alternate) flight?

I was on CX before from yyz-hkg-kul in PE and they were asking for volunteers with compensation of J class and $500 credit on later flight which we did (2 of us), ended up not needing us but they still upgrade us to J for the yyz-hkg-kul segments and gave us $150 credit
There are no set rules for that scenario. Which is now I am more reluctant to give up my seat. Usually what I do is look at the standby list to see how many are on the list (5 vs 20) to get an idea, as well if that route is a feeder flight for smaller cities to catch international connections (e.g. Ottawa, Quebec City, Edmonton to Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver), and finally if there are any weather issues.

CX sets the gold standard in terms of service, even recently where they honoured the price error for business and first class. That being said, their practice is not sustainable as they are bleeding money and aren;t as profitable as the ultra-low cost carriers. The majority of flyers do not see a value in good services.
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angryaudifanatic wrote:
Feb 5th, 2019 8:19 am
If it were me, I would have taken Air Canada to small claims.

A verbal contract is just as enforceable, in this case, as a written one. I would seek disclosure from Air Canada as to the amount noted in the passenger's name on their system as proof, but I have no doubt Air Canada would 'cave' and give in before going to trial.
Perhaps but there seems to be confusion as to what was said.....hence, what are you taking to court?
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Pete_Coach wrote:
Feb 5th, 2019 8:47 am
Perhaps but there seems to be confusion as to what was said.....hence, what are you taking to court?
It is, without a doubt, in my mind, that $600 is definitely an appropriate remedy here, on top of pre/post judgement interest and the usual.

As per the CBC article:

"Tsai says an agent initially told him he'd get a $600 voucher in exchange for taking a later flight, to which he agreed. As he boarded his rescheduled flight six hours later, he says a gate agent turned her screen to show his file, pointing out a note saying that he would be compensated with an $800 voucher."

The bolding is an enforceable verbal contract, if it can be proven.

The $800 is where things are unclear. I can see both POV here. If the gate agent "offered" $800 and he accepted, then I may go after the $800, but if she just informed him of the $800 and he didn't verbally accept, then there's no case to be made there.
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