Air Canada‘s new reservation system is causing problems for some air travelers after it was put into service.
“They admitted to us, ‘We have a new system, we don’t know to use it’ — they even told me straight up,” said Adam Nakhuda of Pickering, Ont.
Nakhuda said he was returning to Canada from Newark, New Jersey on Tuesday. He had a confirmed reservation with Air Canada. Nakhuda said he had paid extra to reserve a specific seat.
But when he went to check in for the flight at his hotel he could not, so he went to the airport.
“Two hours before the flight I printed the boarding pass from their (airline) kiosk. I got to the gate, they said you don’t have a seat, we’re going to bump you off,” said Nakhuda, adding other fliers were bumped from their flights too.
“It was chaos there.”
Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick acknowledged in a statement that “in a relatively small number of cases, some customers are unfortunately encountering technical issues.”
“This was the culmination of a major, two-year project that entailed 700,000 hours of development work,” he said.
The Amadeus Altea Suite Passenger Service System replaced the airline’s existing system, which was in place for about 25 years.
In addition to flight snags, some passengers have received flight itineraries of other passengers by mistake.
“To my shock and dismay,” said Kelly Mandzuk of Regina, who received flight information belonging to a woman flying to Montreal from Paris.
He said he discovered the flight itinerary when he opened the Air Canada app on his mobile phone.
Other fliers told Global News that kind of mistake is troubling.
“The worst part is finding out your confidential information could be passed along,” said Matthew Ravenscoft, a frequent Air Canada traveler who was catching a flight to New York.
Mandzuk, who also had trouble boarding his confirmed flight to Vancouver, reported the data breach to Air Canada.
In the statement, Air Canada downplayed the problems.
“In a very limited number of instances, a fraction of one per cent, booking reference numbers were duplicated and customers given the wrong travel information, but no personal financial or passport data was shared,” wrote Fitzpatrick.
Gabor Lukacs, a passengers rights advocate in Halifax, said the breach can’t be excused.
“You cannot release personal information. You cannot mess up people’s bookings,” said Lukacs.
Lukacs told Global News fliers who encounter difficulties with overbooking and other issues should keep notes, take photographs, record conversations and do everything necessary to document what happened.
Nakhuda ended up paying about $700 to fly back to Toronto on Porter airlines because he says Air Canada could not guarantee his return to Toronto that night. He said he has written to Air Canada asking to be reimbursed for the flight and additional expenses.
Air Canada did not offer any reimbursement, Nakhuda said.