Corina and Augusto Dasilva, denied boarding at Pearson Airport Monday because one of of their Canadian passports expires next March, will get a $4200 refund, compensation for expenses and a future travel voucher worth $500.
“This is all possible because of you!”, the couple wrote in an email after their story was broadcast on Global News.
The couple went to a Flight Centre travel agency location in Toronto on Christmas Eve where they booked a one-week all-inclusive vacation to Honduras. They paid more than $4200 for the trip, billed by the agent as “off the beaten path.”
But when they arrived at the airport early Boxing Day Monday to check in for the Air Transat flight there was an unexpected snag: although Augusto’s check-in went smoothly, when agents tried to process Corina’s passport, there was a problem.
“The agent kept scanning it and scanning it,” Corina said but after a short time the agent said she couldn’t be boarded.
“It was like a hit in the stomach,” Corina said, recalling how she felt when she was told she couldn’t board the flight or take the much-anticipated trip.
She says she was told that in order to travel to Honduras a Canadian citizen must hold a passport that is valid for at least six months from the time of return. Corina’s passport expires in March of 2017.
Corina says the Flight Centre travel agent did not advise the couple of the restriction when he booked the flight. If he had, they say they would not have made the reservation or made the payment.
Efforts to re-book the flight with Transat for a later departure were unsuccessful, she said–even with the proviso that Corina could obtain a new passport on an urgent basis.
Contacted by Global News, a Flight Centre spokesperson referred to the Travel Industry of Ontario (TICO) website that references a travel agent’s obligations.
“Your Ontario travel agency is required to disclose to you at the time of booking what travel documentation is required for each person travelling,” reads the requirement. TICO is the agency that regulates travel agencies in Ontario.
“Flight Centre advises the above in writing at the time of booking as part of the invoice that is signed off by the customer,” said Allison Wallace, director of media and communications with Flight Centre Travel Group. She said the company was investigating how the booking was handled.
The Toronto couple did receive an email copy of the invoice that included a note about the six months passport requirement. However, the invoice was sent out after the travel had been booked. The couple say they did not review the invoice until prior to a Global News interview and they are adamant the agent never made any reference to passport requirements.
Following the original television report about their circumstances, the couple says they received an email from Flight Centre head offices in Vancouver from a representative bearing good news.
“Beside the profuse apologies, she also gave us a $500 travel voucher as a goodwill gesture towards our next trip as well as a full refund on the cancelled trip,” in addition to agreeing to repay about $150 in taxicab fares to the airport.
Many countries require foreign travellers to have valid passports ranging from three months to six months beyond the document’s expiration date.
Canadians can legally renew their passports up to a year prior to their expiry. A five-year passport currently costs $120; a 10-year passport costs $160.
Corina and her husband say they’ve learned from their experience and are grateful for the resolution.
“Thank you very, very much Consumer SOS!”