With airline bumping a hot topic these days, CBC News has heard from many Canadians wanting to share their own sagas.
Vicki Russell’s story stood out.
She missed a $10,000 dream cruise of the Galapagos Islands because she was bumped from an overbooked Air Canada flight.
“I was so upset, I thought I was going to cry,” Russell said from her home in Toronto. “Air Canada caused me to miss the trip of a lifetime.”
The retired lawyer had always wanted to witness the unique wildlife in the Galapagos. She decided that this year she’d finally make her lifelong dream come true.
After doing extensive research, she booked a National Geographic tour with New York-based Lindblad Expeditions.
It included a round-trip Air Canada flight from Toronto to Miami. In Miami, she would meet up with the tour group and continue on to the Galapagos, off the coast of Ecuador. Everything had been booked more than two months in advance.
On April 1, Russell checked in shortly after 8 a.m. for her 10:55 a.m. Air Canada flight.
Her plans started unravelling about two hours later when she spoke with an Air Canada agent at the boarding gate. Russell says the agent informed her that the Miami flight was overbooked and that she wasn’t getting on board because she didn’t have a valid ticket.
Russell was dumbfounded because Air Canada had already issued her a boarding pass and checked her luggage for a $25 fee.
“It was extremely upsetting,” she said. “The woman could not have been more rude, hostile. In all my years of travelling, I have never had a travel person treat me so badly.”
Russell says she stressed to the agent that time was of the essence because she had a connecting flight that evening in Miami and then a cruise to catch.
She also showed the agent her travel documents and managed to contact the tour company to email her a receipt, proving that she had indeed paid for her airline ticket.
But by then, the gate had closed and the flight was already full.
“I was so distraught,” said Russell.
Running out of time
She informed the agent she urgently needed another flight to Miami or she’d miss her Galapagos cruise. Russell says the agent directed her to Air Canada customer service in another section of the terminal, where she had to wait in line for help.
By the time she got to speak with customer service, Russell says she learned it was too late to get another Air Canada flight to Miami to make her connection.
She didn’t get her checked luggage back until 2 p.m. — too late to book a flight herself on another airline.
“They could not have cared less,” Russell said of the Air Canada staff. “Time did not seem to have any importance to them at all.”