An Air Canada passenger has filed a lawsuit in British Columbia court after Air Canada decided to terminate his Aeroplan account where he held Super Elite top tier status.
After checking in, clearing immigration and customs in the transborder area the customer went to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge and at some point figured out that his plans fell through and he had to cancel the ticket.
As leaving the transborder area isn’t as easy as walking out (you have already been admitted to the U.S. and officially left Canada immigration wise) someone needs to escort you back to Immigration and I’d assume also communicate with the U.S. CBP. Problems ensued when the passenger refused to give the staff a specific reason why he wants to cancel his flight.
CBC (access here) has a report about this rather interesting case.
As one of Air Canada’s most frequent flyers, Eric Wong once soared with the members of the airline’s Super Elite. But the Vancouver businessman claims the carrier clipped his wings in retaliation for his last-minute cancellation of a flight after he had already checked in and cleared security.
Wong is now suing Air Canada in B.C. Supreme Court for allegedly revoking his status and writing negative things about him on its computer records.
But the skies allegedly turned unfriendly on Jan. 10, 2016, after Wong told a customer service agent in the secure-side YVR Maple Leaf Lounge he no longer wished to fly on the flight he had checked into.
Because he was already in the international departures area, he claims he asked for an escort to get him back out past Canada Customs.
“The Air Canada Maple Leaf customer service agent insisted, in a stern manner, that Mr. Wong provide a reason for his change of travel plans,” the claim says.
“Mr. Wong advised the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge customer service agent that he did not wish to fly and wanted to leave the lounge.”
Wong claims the agent told him to stay where he was while she “made numerous telephone calls and conducted computer terminal searches.”
He was eventually escorted out, but 10 days later, Wong claims Air Canada told him his Altitude Super Elite status was suspended indefinitely.
The reason? He had “cleared security and accessed the international or trans-border sterile areas of the airport, possibly, without the purpose of travelling.”
Wong claims a lawyer for Air Canada later demanded justification for his decision to cancel his booking.
But he says the company’s own rules — for Wong’s fare class — say that’s not necessary: “free cancellation within 24 hours of booking. You’ll get a full refund — no questions asked.”
In the weeks after his status was suspended, Wong claims he encountered a series of delays in which Air Canada employees scrutinized his identification and spoke to corporate security.
He says he was also denied entry into the Maple Leaf lounge, despite having a business class ticket with Star Alliance member United Airlines, which entitled him entry.
“Because of the way Mr. Wong has been treated, and what was said to him, by Air Canada personnel after they have accessed Air Canada computer records while dealing with him, it is apparent that the Air Canada computer records contain something negative about him,” the claim says.
Wong is suing for breach of contract and negligence. …
This is a truly bizarre case for multiple reasons. Why wouldn’t he just tell the Air Canada staff the reason why he had to cancel his flight? Even if it’s just some bogus answer like “My meeting was cancelled” or “I don’t feel well”. Instead he apparently insisted on the ticket conditions and that he had the right to do whatever he wants.
Instead he came across some airline employees on a power trip who ended up making life difficult.
This is obviously not a case of an individual who bought a ticket just to go to the lounge and then go back home. If this was his purpose he’d have just bought a domestic ticket or one for a true international flight and not a trans border flight that involves immigration and intense, rude security.
I can imagine that this was a pain to deal with for Air Canada who had to provide explanations to both Canada Customs and U.S. Immigration officials why this individual had to be cleared again. That being said such situations happen all the time, especially when late flights are overbooked or cancelled.
I’m definitely siding with the passenger but from the looks of it both parties are at fault here for transforming a non-issue into a drama. There is no security risk involved in this case, the customer underwent both screening as well as the U.S. customs process.
Unless there has been a pattern of the customer doing this all the time I fail to see the basis for Air Canada’s behavior in this matter.
I assume Air Canada placed him on an internal security watch list based on this interaction, something which they are free to do based on their policies. Excluding him from the Aeroplan program for following all T&C of the conditions of contract and refusing him access to the lounge is a different matter entirely and it’s good that he took the airline to court.
Overall I think the passenger made his own life difficult by not just coming up with an answer rather than telling the staff to go screw themselves and that he can do as he pleases. YES he can, but as this situation shows it’s sometimes better to come up with a simple answer.