A B.C. father is sharing his frustration after spending hundreds of dollars out of pocket to ensure his daughter didn’t fly on a Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane.
At least 32 countries have grounded the aircraft model in the wake of Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash — the second fatal crash in five months to involve this type of plane.
Kamloops resident Grayden Flanagan is currently on vacation in Palm Springs, Calif., where he was joined by his daughter, Pria, and three of her friends for spring break.
The four had saved up to fly down from university in Montreal and were getting set to return east when Sunday’s tragedy took place.
With countries around the world taking precautionary action in the aftermath of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, Flanagan said he was no longer comfortable putting his daughter on a MAX 8 plane.
“We’re a country where we banned romaine lettuce because people might have upset stomachs. We banned lettuce all across the whole country. And no one died from that,” he said.
“And yet, they only made 300 of these planes and 18 Canadians died, and they’re still allowing them to fly, even though all of these other countries are not. I don’t get it.”
WATCH: Canada not grounding Boeing 737 MAX 8
However, when he spoke with Air Canada, Flanagan said he was told the cost to rebook his daughter’s flight would come to nearly $1,500. He said with fees and costs it would have come close to $2,000, five times the $400 his daughter paid for her original round-trip flight.
He ended up abandoning the effort and finding a cheaper flight through U.S. carriers, though he will still be left paying another US$240.
“Air Canada, at this point, is saying they’re not prepared to do anything,” he said.
“We did manage to get them on a bit of a milk run without flying on that plane … We’re rebooking to fly her out tonight at 6 p.m. We’re flying her through San Francisco, Chicago and then Montreal.”
WATCH: Global fears grow over Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 planes
In an emailed statement Friday evening, Air Canada did not address Flanagan’s complaint.
However, it said it had now temporarily amended its rebooking policy.
“For our customers who for their own personal reasons do not wish fly on the 737, a flexible rebooking policy is in place which includes options to change their flights to another aircraft, if available, space permitting,” said a spokesperson.
“Due to anticipated call volumes, customers can expect delays reaching Air Canada call centres, so we appreciate our customers’ patience.”
Canada’s other major carrier, WestJet, said it remains in contact with Boeing and regulators but that, for the time being, its normal flight change and cancellation policies also remain in effect.
Flanagan said he will be flying back to Kamloops later this week but hasn’t started dealing with questions about his own flight yet.
“If you’re going to go onto a plane, you need to feel it’s safe,” he said.
“These planes are not safe right now. We saw people crying at the airport because they don’t have any extra money to be able to change their flight.”