A Quebec woman has been left “mentally and financially devastated” after her and her daughter were removed from an Air Canada flight and ended up having to pay nearly $8,000 to return home. According to the woman, Air Canada also failed to notify the pair that they were banned from flying with the airline, resulting in further humiliation and embarrassment when they tried to board the next Air Canada flight home.
Mother and daughter Ana Constantin and Lisa Maria Paun were heading home to Montreal last month, following a vacation to visit their family in Bucharest, Romania. When the duo boarded their Air Canada flight home, they were allegedly told that the flight was delayed as some passengers had their seats reassigned.
Paun told CBC News that she and her mother were told by airline staff to return to their seats, but they were unable to as someone else had been seated in them. It was then that things took a turn for the worse. According to Paun, the flight attendant became increasingly frustrated with the pair, accusing them of not co-operating.
Upset and annoyed with the situation, the mother and daughter refused to disembark the aircraft, causing police officers to be called to the scene. Paun described the situation as “embarrassing and humiliating.”
From then on, their experience went from bad to worse, as Constantin and Paun were stranded for two days in Bucharest. A flight attendant had assured them that they’d be rebooked on an alternative Air Canada flight, but other staff later told them this would not be the case.
Having no other choice, the duo rebooked their flight for August 4 and paid Air Canada $3,916 in order to get them home. While they successfully managed to board the first leg of their flight with partner airline Lufthansa, when the pair arrived in Frankfurt to board their Air Canada flight to Montreal, they were stopped at the boarding gate.
They were informed they had been banned from all Air Canada flights, and would not be allowed to return home on one of their aircrafts. Constantin was gobsmacked to hear this news, as this was the first they’d heard of being banned from the airline.
This comes only a week after Air Canada hit the headlines, having been accused of forcing a young girl to remove her hijab, in order to board her plane.
Forced to rebook yet another flight home with a different airline, they then paid another $3,842 for two seats on an Austrian Airlines flight. Constantin told CBC News that, all in all, the whole ordeal cost more than $8,000 in airfare, hotels and added expenses, just to get home.
According to a statement from Air Canada, the pair were “verbally abusive” to the crew on the first flight, refusing to take their seats or stow their carry-on bags. A spokesperson for the airline added, “Air Canada has a zero-tolerance policy for disruption and outright refusal to follow safety directions.”
Air Canada explained that while they had sent Constantin and Paun a letter detailing the information about their flight ban, it would have arrived in the mail at their home address. Constantin confirmed the letter did arrive, but not until days after she had arrived home.
Airlines do have the right to refuse boarding to any passengers that are deemed a potential safety-risk to a flight. However, Transport Canada states that passengers should be informed of any conditions of their ban at the time it is given.
In a statement to Narcity, Air Canada confirmed that "during the boarding of this flight from Bucharest to Toronto, two passengers became verbally abusive to the crew as well as to passengers, refusing to take their assigned seats or safely stow onboard luggage in preparation for departure. Efforts by the crew to explain safety requirements, provide alternative solutions including offers to re-accommodate seating after take-off, and de-escalate the situation were unsuccessful."
They continue, saying, "Air Canada has a zero-tolerance policy for disruption, abusive, threatening language or behaviour towards its crew or towards other passengers, or refusal to follow safety directions, and for the comfort and safety of other customers and the crew, a difficult decision was taken to have the flight depart without these customers. We note that local authorities were involved in assisting to de-escalate to no avail. Air Canada has since been in touch with the passengers concerning their future travel and unused tickets."