Parent separated from child on Air Canada flight ignites firestorm

Click to play video: 'Toronto family separated on flight leads to air travel outrage' Toronto family separated on flight leads to air travel outrage
A parent’s Facebook post about a stressful travel experience for her husband and young child is resonating with moms and dads across the city. The father and daughter were seated apart on an Air Canada flight Thursday. But as Caryn Lieberman found out, there is no regulation forcing airlines to seat kids and parents together – Mar 4, 2016

TORONTO — A mother’s Facebook post about her husband and 3-year-old daughter seated several rows apart on an Air Canada flight this week is raising alarm bells among other Toronto families.

The woman wrote that when her husband “Checked in they seated her 8 rows behind him. Obviously he said ‘uh…NO!’ But they said he could try to change it at gate check. At gate check they would not budge. Just said ‘sorry! Nothing we can do. We can’t change anyone.'”

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More than 200 parents have since commented on the post sharing their own stories of separation from children in flight.

One of those parents, Rachelle Manios, told Global News “We were literally all over the cabin and with my youngest being non-verbal and special needs, we were very concerned.”

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However, Manios discovered the issue in advance of her scheduled flight, and spent three days making calls to Air Canada to resolve the problem. But it left a bad taste in her mouth, she says.

“I was crying, I literally burst into tears, I was trying to remain composed but I was so so upset,” says Manios.

The problem isn’t new.

A few years ago, a father in British Columbia filed a complaint against Air Canada, WestJet, Porter and a few other carriers, after he noted that he could only guarantee his family was seated together by booking in advance, and paying for it.

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Marco Pozzobon of the Association of Canadian Travel Agents says no regulation has been passed since that case, but adds, “I know the Canadian Transportation Agency has urged the airlines to adopt a friendly seating policy.”

While there are no guarantees, industry experts say if you pay for advanced seating your odds of being seated together with your children do increase — or you can rely on the generosity of other passengers to switch seats.

With regards to the original Facebook post, Air Canada tells Global News the travel agent for the family did not indicate that one of the two travellers was a child and so the automatic seat selection for families did not pick up a problem.

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But the airline says it has now amended the booking and that the father and daughter will be seated together on their return flight.

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