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WestJet apologizes, refunds flight for B.C. man it kept off plane due to medical equipment

Click to play video 'B.C. man barred by WestJet for portable oxygen turns to ‘Consumer Matters’' B.C. man barred by WestJet for portable oxygen turns to ‘Consumer Matters’
WATCH: B.C. man barred by WestJet for portable oxygen turns to 'Consumer Matters' – Jul 23, 2019

A B.C. man says he was denied boarding on a WestJet flight after the airline claimed his portable oxygen concentrator (POC) was not Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved.

Tim Jacura says he was in disbelief because he had travelled recently with the same device and had no issues.

“They looked at my machine and said it was not FAA approved,” said the Kitimat, B.C. resident.

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In April, Jacura booked a flight with WestJet from Terrace to Vancouver. Jacura, a recent widower, was planning to visit his late wife’s 95-year-old mother.

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However, with WestJet denying his flight, Jacura said he was out hundreds of dollars.

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“They said it was their policy not to refund me, same as [my] hotel,” said Jacura.

Jacura said he immediately obtained a letter from his medical supply dealer proving his portable oxygen concentrator was, in fact, FAA and Transport Canada approved.

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Consumer Matters reached out to WestJet on Jacura’s behalf and received the following response:

“In this case, our agent erred on the side of caution as the brand type was not listed, and the approval sticker was not on the tank itself,” said the company.

Unsatisfied with the airline’s response, Consumer Matters reached out again to WestJet, sending photographs of Jacura’s portable oxygen concentrator — including a red label on the panel of the device stating it conforms to all applicable FAA requirements.

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Within days, WestJet contacted Consumer Matters asking to speak to Jacura directly.

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“They wanted more pictures. I took the machine apart,” said Jacura.

Shortly after, Jacura was notified WestJet would be refunding his airline ticket and the cost of the hotel in the amount of $780.60

“WestJet apologizes for the difficulty this guest encountered while travelling with a POC device,” said the company in a second statement.

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“We are aware that a lack of consistency led to a frustrating and confusing situation and that we did not meet the standard of care that we are known for.”

WestJet also recommends guests travelling with portable oxygen concentrators contact the airline 48 hours in advance, so that any reservation can be updated with the device’s information.

Additionally, WestJet says it encourages guests to become familiar with their devices and location of manufacturer label approval stickers prior to travel.

You can find out more about travelling with oxygen here.