“They don’t even have the heart to listen to me,” said Cristhel Fernandez. “I don’t have the extra money to pay that off.”
Back in May, the Surrey resident booked two round-trip flights to the Philippines for her and her husband. Fernandez was also planning on traveling with the couple’s dog, Maki.
The flights were scheduled for December departing Vancouver via Seoul, Korea to the Philippines and returning to Vancouver via Hong Kong. Once those tickets were booked at a cost of over $5,000, Fernandez says she followed protocol and contacted Air Canada to make arrangements for her dog to fly in the cabin.
However, Fernandez says she was told her dog couldn’t fly in the cabin on the return connecting flight. “The one going back home to Vancouver via Hong Kong that is actually an airline that doesn’t fly your dog,” said Fernandez.
Fernandez says an Air Canada agent told her to go back to her online booking and make the modification to the returning portion of her trip. She says she made the change within four hours of her original booking.
However, the next day while shopping for groceries, Fernandez says her credit card declined. When her husband called the credit card company, Fernandez says he made a shocking discovery. “He says they charged us double. I said what? Yes, Air Canada charged us double,” said Fernandez.
The couple had been charged twice for their round trip to the Philippines, now owing over $10,000 to the airline. Fernandez says she called Air Canada immediately for an explanation, but says the airline’s solution was to give her a $10,000 voucher.
Fernandez says she was outraged considering she also paid extra at the time of her original booking for the “Economy-Flex” option which typically allows customers to make modifications to their booking for a fee.
“I’ve been begging almost down on my knees to really ask them please I’ve done everything correctly,” said Fernandez. “I didn’t create a new booking. I modified the ticket with the same booking reference.”
Airline passenger advocates argue this is not the way to do business in Canada.
“Even if it was Air Canada who said it was a passenger who made a mistake, generally making a mistake is not a basis to keep someone’s money this way,” said Gábor Lukács of Air Passenger Rights.
Lukács recommends passengers in similar situations contact their credit card company to dispute the charge or take the airline to small claims court.
Consumer Matters reached out to Air Canada on Cristhel’s behalf ….and received a statement.
“Our customer relations teams are looking further into what occurred with this booking and will be getting back to the passengers,” Air Canada said in the statement.
However, Fernandez says she’s still waiting.
“All I need is for them to return whatever they double-charged me,” she said.
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