Beware next time Air Canada asks for volunteers to forgo a flight

I read a strange story on CBC about a passenger that volunteered to forgo a flight in London UK and did not get fully re-imbursed.

Seat Sale!

Chris Johnson, a colonel in the Royal Canadian Air Force, was in London, preparing to board an Air Canada flight to Ottawa, where he lives. Then the aircraft broke down, and the airline’s ground staff began scrambling to assign passengers to other flights. They called for volunteers who might be willing to wait a day.

“I was on vacation, not military duty,” Johnson told me the other day, “and there were a lot of people who had to get home right away, and I figured I can hang tight.”

He was told to head to the baggage area and collect his suitcase, and wait for an Air Canada representative who would have hotel and meal vouchers. But that person never showed up, he later stated in an affidavit to the Canadian Transport Agency.

Back at the departure area, the Air Canada staff had disappeared. Johnson then got on the phone to Air Canada’s customer service centre in Montreal. Go find a hotel, he says he was told, and submit a claim later.

Johnson then took a bus (not a taxi, because “I was treating their money as though it was mine”) to the airport Holiday Inn, hardly luxury lodging.

He ate supper at the hotel, and breakfast. The bill for the room, including taxes, was 257 pounds, which, if you know anything about London, is utterly average. He ate a modest Holiday Inn meal, and the grand total charged to his card came to $531.56 Cdn.

When he submitted the claim, though, Air Canada regretfully informed him that “our hotel accommodation policy allows up to $100 reimbursement towards your claim. For meals we allow $7 for breakfast, $10 lunch and $15 for dinner.”

Something doesn’t sound right in this story.

Air Canada has always pre-paid for my expenses – I would never pre-pay the expenses and expect them to re-imburse me.

What would you of done?

Here is a link to the story.


  • Sara J
    Posted February 15, 2016 12:59 am 0Likes

    I have never had the experience in England or on Air Canada, but in San Jose, California (on Delta) and Newark, New Jersey (Continental, years ago) , I have made sure that the hotel is booked and billed to the airline’s account, and that the hotel has an included shuttle service. I ask for meal vouchers. Sometimes they are given, sometimes not.

  • Janine
    Posted February 15, 2016 2:45 am 0Likes

    Maybe the airlines are changing policies. I had a similar thing happen with an international United flight. They kept telling me I could mange a claim later but would not give me guidelines as to cost or even commit to paying for a hotel. I decided not to risk it so said no thanks.

    • Steven Zussino
      Posted February 15, 2016 3:31 am 0Likes

      Hi Janine,

      Thanks for your story – interesting change of events (last time this happened to me was in 2012). I was asked to volunteer but they couldn’t get flights for us back home.

  • Derek
    Posted February 15, 2016 4:52 am 0Likes

    I have done it a couple times. I make sure I get the travel credit vochure from the gate agent and I don’t leave until I get the hotel reservation and food vochure. it can be a he said she said issue if you don’t get all that they promise immediately. I would definitely not put the hotel on my own cc.

  • Grammar Pedant
    Posted February 15, 2016 6:40 am 0Likes

    What would you *have done?

  • Joey
    Posted February 15, 2016 11:42 am 0Likes

    I’ve experienced this with CX in Vancouver when they asked for volunteers to stay in YVR for a night and Cathay took care of everything (hotel voucher and meal vouchers). I would have found this very odd. From what I recall, I got the hotel/meal voucher at the same time when I got my new air ticket for the next day.
    When did Chris get the new ticket?

  • Maxi
    Posted February 15, 2016 1:23 pm 0Likes

    These days, 7, 10 and 15 Canadian dollars won’t get you a satisfying meal in most places

  • Ken
    Posted February 20, 2016 6:48 am 0Likes

    When it comes to issues like this there are big differences between North America based airlines and Asian based airlines. Never trust North American based airlines.

Comments are closed.