Couple’s Plane Tickets Home From Portugal Suspended; Costs Them More Than $6000

A Newfoundland couple travelling home from Portugal was shocked to discover at the airport that Air Canada had suspended their tickets — and the only way to get back to St. John’s was to book new one-way fares for almost three times what they had originally paid for the entire trip.
“I was flabbergasted. My wife said she thought I was going to have a stroke,” said Randell Earle, a retired lawyer.
“We ended up having to spend $6,100 to get a flight back to St. John’s.”
Earle was later told that the problem related to a “fraud detection technique” — something he didn’t understand, given the fact the same credit card had been used to book the outbound flight, without any problems.
In December, Earle and his wife Claudia booked a five-week round trip from St. John’s to Portugal through Air Canada’s website for about $2,400. They paid by credit card.
The couple travelled to Portugal on Feb. 13. Earle said they had a wonderful time in Lisbon and Porto, until their return to the airport on March 21.
“We go to check in, and we were told, ‘Air Canada has cancelled your ticket. You have to go to customer care,'” he said.
Earle said they spent the next three hours getting the runaround from airport agents. Multiple calls on a pay phone to Air Canada and Star Alliance’s customer care lines didn’t resolve matters.
The couple was told their only option to get home was to book a new flight online.
The next day, the Earles boarded the expensive flight, and arrived in St. John’s 23 hours later.
When they got home, Earle started his quest for compensation.
He sent an email to Air Canada’s customer relations, and received a response several days later.
In the email, Air Canada “apologized for any inconvenience our procedures may have caused you.”
The email attributed their travel woes to issues with fraudulent activity when purchasing tickets with credit cards over the phone or on the internet.
“[Air Canada’s fraud prevention team] uses fraud detection tools to monitor all bookings and handles tips provided by various sources such as credit card companies,” the email read. 
Earle called Air Canada’s response “bafflegab.”
“I sent them back an email saying, ‘You’re missing the point; we want compensation.’ Gave them a week to respond, and told them if, ‘I don’t have this resolved in a week, I’m going to initiate court proceedings,'” he said.
On May 4, Earle filed a suit at small claims court in St. John’s for $6,523, to recoup the money they spent on the plane tickets, hotel, meals, and taxi rides during their unexpected overnight stay in Lisbon.
On Friday, Air Canada called the Earles with an offer to settle out of court.
Source: CBC News
Photo: © CBC News

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