eDreams / refused flight
Mrs Sidra Vaines
I am instructed by Mrs Sidra Vaines.
Your company arranged a Westjet flight for Mrs Vaines and her two children aged 1 and 6 from London Gatwick to Honolulu leaving on 23 September 2016. Your reference for this booking is 3BERSO. The flight was via Vancouver where Mrs Vaines and her children would be in transit.
When arriving at Gatwick for the flight she was prevented from checking in because she did not have a visa for Canada. This was a surprise to her as she was not intending to enter Canada but to transit from Westjet flight WS23 to Westjet flight WS1864. The Westjet official told her that she could not board the aircraft but would have to wait until she has a visa. She sat down in the Terminal and was told that this process would take 7 days. The official also told her that her son aged 1 could board the flight as he was an American citizen having been born in Hawaii. Mrs Vaines did not believe that he was being humorous; merely stupid.
Mrs Vaines called your office and explained the position to your representative. You will have a record of her call. Your representative was totally unhelpful and told her that she had to buy new tickets for herself and both her children from London to Honolulu, without any credit or refund for the flight on which she had already been booked through your company.
Mrs Vaines regarded this as an outrage – being an attempt by your company to force her into purchasing further tickets at enormous cost, knowing that in her circumstances sitting at Gatwick with two small children she would have little alternative but to agree, which of course she did.
This is a disgraceful episode which caused Mrs Vaines substantial expense (in the order of £1500) and untold distress for herself and her children.
The reason for the problem is that it would appear that there is a requirement for a visa even if one is in transit through a Canadian airport. At no time was this ever mentioned to Mrs Vaines by your company who freely accepted her money on 27th August when she made the booking. I understand that you tell your clients that it is their obligation to obtain the necessary visas for the countries they are visiting. That is understandable but Mrs Vaines was not visiting Canada – and it was obvious from her flight details of the booking you arranged that she would not be doing so.
In accepting her booking you knew that she was going to join a connecting flight in Vancouver – and you also knew (or ought to have known) the she would not be permitted to travel at all unless she had a visa for Canada. This is so unusual that it is clearly something that ought to have been brought to her attention at the time of booking. It was a fundamental term of the contract because without this visa the tickets you sold her would be valueless and unusable. This is not a matter that can be dismissed by saying it was her responsibility to check. You had a clear responsibility here and you failed to discharge it – and the $1422 which you took from Mrs Vaines therefore falls to be refunded to her.
Mrs Vaines and her family have now recovered from this ordeal but you will imagine the distress this episode cause them. Under the circumstances may I suggest the you make the appropriate refund immediately together with an appropriate figure of compensation. The simplest means of doing so would be to issue a refund to the credit card which was used to book the ticket.
The sooner the matter is cleared up the better for all concerned – and possibly the only way of recovering something by way of reputation for your company.
I look forward to hearing from you.
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