A Hollywood actress in British Columbia for a film shoot is raising concerns about how her sons were treated when they tried to board a plane with tickets she bought them.
Holly Robinson Peete is in B.C. filming a Hallmark Christmas movie, where her two teenaged sons joined her for a visit earlier this month.
But when the boys, who are Black, left to fly home in business class on Monday night, they were denied boarding by an Air Canada ticket attendant.
“They were not allowed to board the plane because they couldn’t produce the credit card, which was their parents’ credit card, which paid for the ticket,” Peete said in a video posted to Instagram.
“I was very, very upset, very disappointed, did not like the way they were treated, especially by that ticket agent, and even some of the customer service people were unnecessarily rude and disrespectful.”
Peete, who appeared decades ago in the Vancouver-shot TV series 21 Jump Street, says she’s been flying with Air Canada since then and “and have never had to produce the credit card that paid for the ticket.”
Her sons, however, were “flagged,” she said, and left stranded at the airport without either of their parents. They ended up spending the night in a nearby hotel.
“I feel this is a policy that is selective and really needs to be looked at and they need to do much better,” she said in her Instagram post.
In a statement, Air Canada described the incident as “an unfortunate situation” that arose from its credit card security process.
“Sometimes legitimate transactions require additional verification when the booking is made in an unusual way, such as foreign purchases made outside Canada for last-minute travel, and these are identified by our automated anti-fraud systems,” a spokesperson said.
“In this instance, our fraud prevention team, which is not located at the airport and therefore operates impartially by only reviewing the purchase transaction, had a concern with the way in which the tickets were purchased for these customers and it alerted the airport agent.”
Air Canada said it had followed up with Peete “as we recognize this did cause inconvenience.”
Travel expert Claire Newell said credit card fraud costs airlines millions of dollars a year, and situations like the one Peete’s sons ran into are not uncommon.
“It’s kind of like your credit card. If you purchase something that is not normal. It may flag it one time and it may not another and the system flagged it this time,” she said.
“Quite often it is within a 24- or 48-hour period of when the tickets would have been bought, and typically it’s for business class, and not of course in the passenger’s name — the credit card being used.”
Newell said she has her children buy tickets in their own name for this reason and recommends a parent contact the airline ahead of time if they are buying tickets for youth in the children’s own names.
But Peete says the airline didn’t appear interested in actually solving the problem at the gate.
“One of the things that really bothered me was when the boys were talking to the ticket agent, we were on the phone and I kept saying, ‘I want to talk to him,’ and he would not talk to me, he would not talk to the parent,” she said in the video.