A Vancouver man was shocked to find out that another passenger was able to fly under his name on a WestJet flight from Calgary to Vancouver on Sunday.
Jonathan Sutherland says when he was unable to check in to his scheduled flight at the self-serve kiosk, he talked to an agent, which is when he was informed that his plane has already left with another passenger in his place.
“[The agent] advised me that I have already travelled from Calgary to Vancouver on an earlier flight. I advised her that was incorrect. I was standing right there,” he said.
Initially, Sutherland thought it was an administrative error, but after getting in touch with WestJet’s head office, it turned out a gate agent checked in another passenger with a similar last name to an earlier 2 p.m. flight as opposed to the 6:45 p.m. flight, which Sutherland was supposed to be on.
As a frequent flier, Sutherland says he is surprised the glitch happened because of the number of checks in place.
He says his ID always gets checked at the counter before obtaining a boarding pass.
The next check comes when he goes through security and provides his boarding pass.
Finally, both ID and boarding pass have to be checked at the gate in order to be able to board the plane.
“At that point, the gate agent is looking at your picture, they are looking at your first name, last name, making sure all of it is the same,” Sutherland said. “WestJet does an announcement to advise before boarding that if there is a problem with identification and your name does not match perfectly to your boarding pass, that it is to be addressed at that time.”
Sutherland was rebooked on another flight and said WestJet acknowledged there were gaps that allowed the other passenger to be put on the plane.
WestJet released the following statement to Global News:
WestJet sincerely apologizes to the guest for his experience this past Sunday. All guests are screened through airport security so there was no safety risk to the public. We are reviewing the incident with the agents involved.
Sutherland says WestJet told him the incident would be addressed within the company’s internal policies.
He says he hopes it’s an isolated incident.
“It’s concerning because I feel like the passenger may not have been properly vetted,” he said. “My concern is that if the individual that was sitting on the plane as me did anything or caused any concerns, it would be me who would be held accountable for it, as my name was on that reservation.”
Sutherland says he filed a report with the Calgary police about what happened.
He also wants Transport Canada to review this situation and work with the airline to fix the gaps.