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Nov 19, 2018
Here is what happened, my family of 5, me, my husband, my 3 kids aged 9, 10, 12 were traveling from Laguardia to venice connecting in Toronto via Air Canada, we are from Philadelphia, i found cheapest rates about 2400 for all 5 tickets, so when we were to check in, they told me i cant board the flight because Italy required 3 months passport validity which I did not know about, and my 9 years old son had 2.5 months validity, so they denied boarding, I was so frustrated and crying, and the lady at the check in did nothing, she basically was so sick of us and told us go get a passport which we did by end of the day but we missed the flight, when we managed to get expedite passport the same day - it was Friday, we called airline and they said automatically my return flight is cancelled too! and the new tickets would cost me 3000 per ticket! remember it is 5 tickets, obviously i could not travel without my 9 years old son, wish it would be me, at least they could fly, so they gave me no choice but buy rush tickets through airflot, we managed to get to Venice next day, but it costed me so much for rush tickets about 4500 including all the hassle with hotel and taxi, on top of me being hysterical, they gave me some credit but took 300 out of each ticket as penalty :( so basically gave me minimal amount as a credit, i asked and begged them to look for any other flights next day if they could put us or even split us up as long as there are seats, nothing, they used the situation and took advantage of this giving me no choice but using another airline, I am so frustrated, the lady next day at airflot said definitely to fight it out. I just don't understand why they are being so cruel, do you know if anything can be done about this? I am so frustrated, i did not know 3 months validity policy and they could be more compassionate toward our situation especially involving 3 small children, luggage, and the fact we were 2 hours from home, the check in woman was actually smiling and thought to be happy my family vacation was screwed, she did not think we will be able to get a passport by end of the day, all of this costed me $4500 in losses, i wonder if it is possible they can waive the change fee, i would completely agree if they would give me a full credit I could use, at least it is some understanding. Please let me know if you know something about it, i am still very frustrated, my little son seeing me crying started telling me I told you i dont want to go on this vacation, i would rather stay with grandma :( and she offered to come pick him up, i refused, ho can they be so cruel? I spent 2 hours on the phone waiting and then i was given no choice. Please help me, the vacation itself was so expensive considering internal flight to greece, everything was booked in advance so any variation of this sort gave me losses, I am glad we overall managed to get to Venice next day and everything went according to the plan but i was heartbroken for $4500, it is alot of money. I just don't understand why they can't consider special situations.....i checked and there were at least 10 flights from NY with air canada to venice, they could try to accommodate us free of charge, it happens if they have seats, don't get it, i really feel i wont fly with them at all after this kind of treatment, be it airflot, I am 100% sure they would just put us on next available flight or connected flight or anything possible so we make it and the trip would be less stressful, please advise! Thank you very much for your help!

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Dec 27, 2014
New York
They aren’t being cruel. When you book your own flights you are responsible for ensuring you know the passport rules for not only the country you are flying to but any countries you are transiting through. You are acting as your own travel agent thus you must know all the rules a travel agent would.

The airlines terms and conditions all state you are responsible for knowing what documents you need.

All airlines also cancel your return tickets if you miss the outgoing flight.

You could have allowed your husband and the rest of the family to travel and you could have met them after getting the passport re-issued. That would have reduced the monetary loss.

We have company contacts on top of our page. You can certainly write to Air Canada. I am not hopeful they will do anything but we never say never. We’ve seen well written letters that hit the desk of the right executive have results.

Please re-write your letter in a bullet form and take out all emotion- they don’t need to know you were hysterical crying , they didn’t help you, etc. They followed the rules.

Follow this thread when writing:
Sep 19, 2015
Airlines can be fined for allowing passengers with invalid passports to be transported to a country — the fine is can be over $4,000 per passenger.

Would you have preferred to be denied entry into Italy and immediately sent back?

When you write take full responsibility and ask for change fee to be waived. Do not mention all the crying, the agent being happy your vacation was screwed, or what Aeroflot told you.

Be polite and ask for an exception.


Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
This is a big bummer and I’m sure an expensive lesson you would rather not have had. I hope your trip was magical in all other ways!
Sep 19, 2015
Yeah, I know, I will. thanks
Venting here is understandable and this was a big shock and an expensive one.

I do give the same advice on being polite to everyone and even have to remind myself at times of the same.
Asking for a waiver of the change fees so you can use the entire credit is a good strategy — versus asking for a refund which likely would be denied.

Good luck.
Jun 30, 2017
Maui Hawaii
General advice for future international flights: Have ALL the travelers' passports (or copies) in front of you when booking ANY international flight. That way you have birthdates and expiration dates for the passports in front of you. Yes, you know your children's birthdates, but mistakes are reduced if you have that printed in front of you. My wife once misspelled our daughter's first name on a ticket; fortunately, she caught the error within the 24hr window to cancel and rebook without penalty. It could have been a very expensive spelling mistake.

Before clicking "buy" on the tickets, check the passport expiration and visa requirements for ALL points on your trip, including transit points (some require a visa for transit--see several issues related to transit visas on this forum). That way, if you need to renew a passport, you can safely do so before buying tickets that are non-refundable.

Airlines are very rigid about travel documents, and all warn that it is entirely the passenger's responsibility to have correct travel documents, including passports and visa at the time of check-in. The airlines face fines if they transport a person without correct travel documents, and also have to use an unpaid seat to return the traveler on the next flight back to their origin.

Example: US citizens do not need a visa for New Zealand; they do need one for Australia. Many US citizens think of a trip to NZ/Australia as one destination but would not be able to enter Australia without a visa.


Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
San Francisco
Booking travel on the internet is the perfect example of the old computer saying "Garbage in, garbage out". When you book flights, the computer knows nothing about you, it only knows what you put in. The computer knows nothing about the requirements for your trip, you have to know them and input them correctly. Everybody is so busy chasing the "cheapest rate" that they forget about all the other information that's needed for a successful trip. I am glad that we have a large readership and can warn many people about these potential pitfalls before they lose thousands of dollars. Use our tried-and-true method of polite, patient and persistent. Take responsibility for your errors and politely ask for an exception to their rules. It's often very effective. Good luck, and please let us know the outcome.