Summerland couple say Air Canada left them stranded in Mexico
It’s every traveler’s worst nightmare — stranded in a foreign country, being told your flight doesn’t exist and wondering how you will get home.
That’s the situation Clare, or Bob as he is known, and his wife Marlene Dame faced a few weeks ago.
On Wednesday, Dame was at Penticton Airport with a handmade sign, picketing for some answers, and to alert Air Canada customers to what he feels was an injustice.
“I’ve been hijacked,” he said. “That’s the way I feel.”
It all started about two months ago when the Summerland residents were to fly with Air Canada to Puerto Vallarta. It was a chance to get away from the Okanagan winter and enjoy six weeks of sun in Mexico.
The couple left Kelowna Jan. 12 for a stopover in Vancouver and were to fly to Puerto Vallarta the following day when things began to unravel.
According to the couple, Air Canada first informed them the flight didn’t exist. But it did, and despite the hiccup, they left the next day on that flight.
But six weeks later when they tried to return home, the nightmare continued.
They went to the airport on Feb. 29, at which time Air Canada informed them Flight 989 from Puerto Vallarta to Kelowna, via Calgary, had left the day before.
They attempted to get answers, but say they were abandoned by Air Canada in Mexico.
“The service was just terrible. Whoever their representative was just said it was not their problem,” Dame said. “I was really mad, and I did the same thing that I’m doing here. I was going in front of the different airlines and passengers and showing them what was going on. A guy from WestJet said you can’t do that here, and if you continue, we’ll call the cops. Well, I didn’t want to meet the federales, so I quit.”
They eventually were helped out by an Alaska Air employee, although the Dames had to pay for the tickets out of their own pocket.
They believe they are out about $3,000 Canadian.
“The reason they say it’s not their problem is, when you go to the Air Canada website, if you don’t watch what you’re doing, you get diverted to [a third party]. When that happens, Air Canada doesn’t have any responsibility,” Dame said, adding that regardless of how he booked, “the money that was taken out of our account went to Air Canada.”
Air Canada confirmed the Dames had booked via a third-party agent and put the onus on that agency to make their customers aware of changes to travel plans.
“There were schedule changes which Air Canada enacted last fall, and these were communicated to the travel agent who was listed as the contact,” Air Canada stated via email.
“If the passengers’ own contact information was on their booking, they would have received this information about their flight changes directly from Air Canada. The passengers have contacted our Customer Relations team recently, and we will be in touch with the passengers directly.”
In the meantime, Dame is adamant he will continue to picket.
“I’m coming down here, and every time I picket, my blood pressure goes up, I’m sick to my stomach, and I can’t sleep,” he said. “I’m just disgusted and I’m going to do something if I can. Everybody I talk to I’m just saying, you better beware. Stir up enough trouble, and maybe they’ll take responsibility.”
Dame has no plans to let the matter go. He will be at Kelowna International Airport Friday, picketing for the third time.
The Mazatlan Posr