Poor Customer service at Air Canada

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Apr 9, 2019
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#1
My itinerary (booking reference XXXXXX) stated that an ETA is required if you are not a Canadian or U.S. citizen. I am a U.S. citizen so I thought that I didn't need the ETA. If my ticket is for Australia couldn't you mention the ETA for that country? I was told later by Air Canada that airlines don't let passengers know the requirements, so why list the requirements for Canada making it look like it pertained to the whole flight? My sister flew United and they DID list the requirements on her itinerary.

I arrived at the airport at 18:45 for a flight that wasn't scheduled to leave until 21:38. There were 4 men in front of me. One of them was from Venezuela and had a problem with his VISA. There was only one agent who stayed on the phone for a very long time trying to help him. Finally about 7:30, other agents showed up to check the rest of us in while the man was being taken care of. It was at that point that an agent told me I needed an ETA to board. She gave me the website. I had trouble getting it to work on my phone. I mentioned it to an agent and she just shrugged and walked away. Another agent took over for the man with the VISA problem and the rest left. Finally, the man was told he could board. I said I was having trouble with my phone. The agent that was left said I needed to do it on a computer. She said she had nothing for me and I would have to go home and do it. I called my sister - paid the $100 fee to get it done in 20 minutes- and she did it from her home - but at that point they wouldn't let me board even though that plane was late and I had time to get there. None of the agents stayed to help me.

I called Air Canada because there was no one at the counter and had to wait 20 minutes because of storm delays to talk to someone. She told me to talk to someone at the counter to reschedule. When someone finally came back to the counter, she told me I had to call Air Canada. I said, "I could have gotten on that plane if you would have helped me. That man got help." She said, "he made the cut off. You were after the cutoff." I wouldn't have been after the cutoff if someone was helping me while he was getting help. It's not fair that I was in the wrong place in line. I called Air Canada again and waited another 20 minutes to talk to someone. I was charged a 200.00 change fee and 966.12 for the ticket. I didn't pay that much for the original round trip ticket!!! It's not fair to make me pay a change fee plus another ticket. I don't know why I couldn't be let on the plane to Canada. The ETA was more then ready by the time the plane got there. I noticed the flight to Sydney didn't leave until 0100 and that was the last time I looked at 2300. Could have been even later. Why did I have to pay another 1166.12 when you could have let me get on the flight to Canada? I had to get a motel in Seattle. When I went back to the airport, the agent said, "oh, you're here so early, I will put you on the 15:00 flight. Then that flight was cancelled. I stood in another line worried I was never going to meet my sister in Sydney. They said I could get on the 18:00 flight. That flight was delayed again and again. Then the flight to Sydney was delayed. Then there was a problem with the baggage. The person my sister sent to pick me up at the airport waited for over an hour. On my flight home, we were at the airport 3 hours in advance and when I got to Seattle, I had no luggage. The lady at the lost luggage counter was very nice (the only helpful employee at SeaTac), but that hardly makes up for the highway robbery and poor service.

I contacted Customer Service and Nicole Jones responded with an explanation about the immigration laws in Canada. That makes no sense. If I hadn't been dropped off at the airport, I could have driven to Vancouver, crossed the border with no trouble, and made the 0100 flight that probably left even later. My case number is CAS-XXXXXXXX. After several weeks, Nicole has offered a 400.00 voucher. That doesn't satisfy me. My afternoon flight the next day was canceled and I wasn't offered the price of a change fee and a new ticket, so why is it fair to charge me a change fee and a new ticket for not getting on a flight that I could've gotten on if I had gotten some customer service? I am not even asking for the money I had to spend on a hotel and cab for the night while I waited for the next flight.

I want my 1166.12 back. Please make this right.

Edited by moderator to remove sensitive information.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Neil Maley

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#2
What was the exact itinerary you were flying - starting where, landing where and ending where? Is what you are saying that by the time you got the Visa you needed, the check in desk was closed and you could not check in for the flight? Check in closes one hour before the flight is scheduled to leave and the agents cannot do anything - the computers lock and they can't override them. An ETA is not required to fly into Canada if you were connecting but it is if you were going on to Australia.

If that is what happened, there is really nothing the airline can do - you have to buy a new ticket.

The agents at the desks cannot help you obtain the ETA - that is not their job. What were you looking for them to do for you at that point?

This is one of the problems using a Canadian airline - they cater to Canadians and their website states (as all airlines do) that you are responsible to
know what documents you need to travel. This is one of the perils of booking your own air - you don't know what you don't know until it is too late.

We have company contacts on to[ of our page you can appeal to at Air Canada to see if you they can offer more than a $400 future credit but they don't owe you a full refund.
 
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weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#3
Were you trying to fly to Australia on this itinerary? Your narrative is very confusing. Americans need a visa to enter Australia. It is solely the responsibility of the passenger, not the airline, to find out all of the requirements for entry into any country you are visiting. If you arrived at the airport without the proper visa for your final destination, no airline will allow you to board.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
It is not the fault of the airlines that you were not aware of the ETA requirement for Australia.

It is not the fault of the airline that you could not do the ETA application on your phone.

As you showed up to airport without a valid ETA the airline had to obligation to do anything for you.

ETA is an electronic travel authority to travel to and enter into Australia. Without it as a US or Canadian citizen one is not getting on the flight.

Air Canada is not going to let you on a flight Seattle to Vancouver to connect to Australia without a valid ETA— they have no way of knowing if the ETA will be granted or not.

Rather than claiming ‘it is not fair’ you should own up to your mistake. Claiming lack of customer service caused this problem rather than your own lack of research is not going to win over any Air Canada employees.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#6
While agencies and airlines may help us with international travel requirements, the primary responsibility lies with us. The first stop to make is the Department of State website. For your trip, click Find International Travel Information, then Country Information, and search for Australia.

On the very first page:
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Yes – visa or Electronic Travel Authority (ETA)

with a link that takes you to the Australia website . . .

Included on these sites are travel warnings and information about vaccinations.
 
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Apr 9, 2019
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#8
I had booked a flight on the Air Canada website to fly from Seattle to Sydney, Australia. It was not a direct flight. It stopped in Vancouver, B.C.. I should have included that info in this post. I had just done a copy and paste from what I sent to Air Canada. My point was that I could have made the flight if I had been given the same attention as the passenger in front of me. There was plenty of time. I was meeting my sister who flew from LA on United and knew about the ETA because United included the info in the itinerary. Air Canada said you needed an ETA to go to Canada if not a US citizen. They didn't say anything about the need for an ETA to go to Australia. If I ever travel again, I will use a travel agent. I was relying on my sister because she had been there before.
 
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Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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#9
The passenger in front of you apparently had his visa already- totally different than not having the ETA at all and that isn’t something they can assist you with.
If you HAD the visa and there was a problem, they would have assisted you.

You must always know the requirement of the country your ultimate destination is at, not one just the county you transiting you. The airline has no way to know what you need going to Australia. No airline gives you that information. You must know yourself.

You need to look at the bright side even though it’s an expensive lesson. If you had needed a
Paper Visa your entire trip would have been canceled and you would have lost everything you paid for the entire trip because you wouldn’t have been able to get a visa through the Internet.

Sorry this happened but the airline had no responsibility here. It’s too bad you didn’t have tickets routing you through another US airport instead of Canada- you might have had better cell service and might have been able to get it done quicker .
 
Jul 2, 2018
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#10
The passenger in front of you apparently had his visa already- totally different than not having the ETA at all and that isn’t something they can assist you with.
If you HAD the visa and there was a problem, they would have assisted you.

You must always know the requirement of the country your ultimate destination is at, not one just the county you transiting you. The airline has no way to know what you need going to Australia. No airline gives you that information. You must know yourself.

You need to look at the bright side even though it’s an expensive lesson. If you had needed a
Paper Visa your entire trip would have been canceled and you would have lost everything you paid for the entire trip because you wouldn’t have been able to get a visa through the Internet.

Sorry this happened but the airline had no responsibility here. It’s too bad you didn’t have tickets routing you through another US airport instead of Canada- you might have had better cell service and might have been able to get it done quicker .
I think his issue was not the ETA to Australia, but rather that he needed an ETA to fly through Canada. If you are not a US citizen or meet certain other criteria, you need an ETA to fly through Canada. He is complaining that Air Canada should have told him in advance as United told his sister that in advance. He is also upset because the Air Canada desk people were helping other people and apparently they should have stopped helping them to help him instead.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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#11
I think his issue was not the ETA to Australia, but rather that he needed an ETA to fly through Canada. If you are not a US citizen or meet certain other criteria, you need an ETA to fly through Canada. He is complaining that Air Canada should have told him in advance as United told his sister that in advance. He is also upset because the Air Canada desk people were helping other people and apparently they should have stopped helping them to help him instead.
That’s not how I am reading it. Twice she said
“my ticket is for Australia couldn't you mention the ETA for that country”

I believe she was stopped because she did not have the ETA to Australia, not Canada. She should not have needed it to transit through Canada as a US citizen- she didn’t have the the visa to go to Australia.

Hcsambe can you elaborate?
 
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Nov 27, 2017
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#12
If your sister knew about th ETA, did she not mention that you needed one too? Why would you assume that you did not need it when she is also a US citizen and needed the ETA?
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#13
Agreed, Neil. And I'm not sure that Hcsambe will find an agent who will accept responsibility for international travel documentation. There are too many variables . . .
 
Apr 9, 2019
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#14
The passenger in front of you apparently had his visa already- totally different than not having the ETA at all and that isn’t something they can assist you with.
If you HAD the visa and there was a problem, they would have assisted you.

You must always know the requirement of the country your ultimate destination is at, not one just the county you transiting you. The airline has no way to know what you need going to Australia. No airline gives you that information. You must know yourself.

You need to look at the bright side even though it’s an expensive lesson. If you had needed a
Paper Visa your entire trip would have been canceled and you would have lost everything you paid for the entire trip because you wouldn’t have been able to get a visa through the Internet.

Sorry this happened but the airline had no responsibility here. It’s too bad you didn’t have tickets routing you through another US airport instead of Canada- you might have had better cell service and might have been able to get it done quicker .
I never left Seattle. They wouldn’t even let me go to Canada. That’s another point I made. It was a 3 hour layover in Canada which was plenty of time for the electronic visa to go through for me to continue on to Australia.
 
Nov 27, 2017
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#15
It didn't matter if you had a longer layover. All our documentation should have been ready at the beginning of your trip. You would not have had to re check in when you are in Canada.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#16
When you drive from Seattle to Vancouver, the border agents don't know about Australia. But the airline does when they review your booking, and cannot allow you to enter Canada knowing the connecting flight will take to to a country that requires an ETA. They did the correct thing.

You wanted Air Canada to inform you of this, but it's not their duty . . .
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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#17
I never left Seattle. They wouldn’t even let me go to Canada. That’s another point I made. It was a 3 hour layover in Canada which was plenty of time for the electronic visa to go through for me to continue on to Australia.
That’s because had they let you board when you didn’t have the ETA the airline would have been fined and turned back to the US when you arrived in Canada.

I couldn’t figure out what you did here as your post is very unclear. I was wondering how you got to Canada without the visa.

You needed the visa, the airline did the right thing and what Air Canada said about not needing a visa to Canada has nothing to do with anything when you were flying to Australia. You need to check what you need for countries you are transiting through and you final destination.

Your sister should have told you this if she had been there already.

When you book your own travel you are solely responsible to investigate what documents you need to get into a country. You act as your own travel agent and need to know as much as an agent knows.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#18
While you main focus has been on the ETA, there is another issue about the multiple delays:
  • New flight scheduled for 3:00 PM the next day, but was canceled
  • Next flight scheduled for 6:00 PM was delayed "again and again"
  • Subsequent flight to Sydney was also delayed
  • Upon return to Seattle, you had no luggage
In my opinion, you can/should petition those airlines for remuneration in the form of either dollars or a voucher.

Airline contacts are listed here. In your communications, remember
to send only one email per week (see "How to Present Your Case" first).
 
Aug 30, 2015
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#19
The passenger in front of you apparently had his visa already- totally different than not having the ETA at all and that isn’t something they can assist you with.
If you HAD the visa and there was a problem, they would have assisted you.

You must always know the requirement of the country your ultimate destination is at, not one just the county you transiting you. The airline has no way to know what you need going to Australia. No airline gives you that information. You must know yourself.

You need to look at the bright side even though it’s an expensive lesson. If you had needed a
Paper Visa your entire trip would have been canceled and you would have lost everything you paid for the entire trip because you wouldn’t have been able to get a visa through the Internet.

Sorry this happened but the airline had no responsibility here. It’s too bad you didn’t have tickets routing you through another US airport instead of Canada- you might have had better cell service and might have been able to get it done quicker .
I really don't understand the "It's too bad you didn't have tickets routing you through another US airport instead of Canada - you might have had better cell service"....so an American airport that has flights to Canada has worse service than American Airports that have flights to Australia? And another comment, "A Canadian airline caters to Canadians"....the tickets always say that the traveler is responsible to ensure they have the correct paperwork. They do not look up anything specific for Canadians. My wife is American and I'm Canadian, and I can assure you, neither of us is catered to any differently than the other...whether we fly on an American airline or a Canadian airline. The only correct answer here is that all transport companies require you to ensure you have your own paperwork in order.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
17,062
15,564
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#20
I really don't understand the "It's too bad you didn't have tickets routing you through another US airport instead of Canada - you might have had better cell service"....so an American airport that has flights to Canada has worse service than American Airports that have flights to Australia? And another comment, "A Canadian airline caters to Canadians"....the tickets always say that the traveler is responsible to ensure they have the correct paperwork. They do not look up anything specific for Canadians. My wife is American and I'm Canadian, and I can assure you, neither of us is catered to any differently than the other...whether we fly on an American airline or a Canadian airline. The only correct answer here is that all transport companies require you to ensure you have your own paperwork in order.
I was not aware that you never left the first airport. Your post was unclear.
 
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