MONTREAL (Reuters) - Air Canada AC.TO has apologized and offered compensation for bumping a 10-year-old off a flight, the boy’s father said on Monday, after the Canadian family’s story sparked headlines following a high-profile incident involving overbooking by U.S. carrier United Airlines.
Brett Doyle said his family, who first tried unsuccessfully to check in his older son online, was told at the airport there was no seat available for the boy on an oversold flight from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, to Montreal, where they were connecting to a flight to a Costa Rica vacation last month.
The entrepreneur from Prince Edward Island said the family of four then drove to Moncton, New Brunswick, to catch a different flight to Montreal only to discover at the airport that it had been canceled.
“I thought it was a joke, that there were hidden cameras or something,” he recalled by phone from Charlottetown.
Doyle said the family contacted Air Canada, the country’s largest carrier, in March, but only received an apology and the offer of a C$2,500 trip voucher after the story was published by a Canadian newspaper on Saturday.
Air Canada could not immediately be reached by Reuters for comment. An airline spokeswoman told the Canadian Press: “We are currently following up to understand what went wrong and have apologized to Mr. Doyle and his family as well as offered a very generous compensation to the family for their inconvenience.”
Doyle, whose family finally arrived in Montreal and was able to connect to Costa Rica, said he understood the public outcry after a 69-year-old passenger was dragged from his seat on a United plane in Chicago on April 9 to make space for crew members.
“People are fed up,” he said of airline overbooking. “You shouldn’t be able to sell something twice.”
United’s parent company, United Continental Holdings Inc UAL.N, which is still recovering from the public relations debacle, apologized again on Monday for the passenger’s forceful removal, while reporting quarterly earnings.
Doyle said the incident on United Flight 3411, which spread rapidly on social media after being shot on video by passengers, resonated with his family. “I ... said things could always be worse,” he said after hearing about the United incident. “At least we weren’t thrown off the plane.”
Reporting by Allison Lampert; Editing by Peter Cooney