Business

Dad, 2 young kids ordered off Air Canada plane after mother turned away at gate

A Winnipeg family is still trying to understand why Air Canada kicked them off a flight. First, the mother wasn't allowed to board; then the father and two kids were pulled off the plane.

Winnipeg mother barred from boarding flight at all; family says husband and kids then ordered off

Father, Steve Moore took this photo of children Callum and Maddy shortly before they were removed from their Air Canada flight. (Steve Moore)

A Winnipeg family is still trying to understand why Air Canada stranded them at the Miami airport after bumping them from a flight and then allegedly telling them: "You're not our problem."

Kerri Moore, travelling with her husband and two children, was barred from boarding a flight from Miami to Toronto in February.

Father Steve Moore and their kids were permitted to board, but then ordered off the plane despite being buckled into their seats.

"It's still shocking to me," Kerri Moore said in an interview from the family's home. "I don't understand how you can treat people like that."

The ordeal began when the Moores were returning home from a Florida vacation. They were set to fly on American Airlines from Miami to Toronto, and then with Air Canada onto Winnipeg.

The Moores said when they arrived at the airport more than two hours in advance, the lineup to check in was so long, they missed their flight.

American Airlines then rebooked the family on an Air Canada flight.

Clockwise from top, Kerri, Maddy, Callum and Steve Moore on vacation in Florida. The family was bumped from their Air Canada flight on their way home to Winnipeg. (Steve Moore)

Steve Moore and their children, nine-year-old Maddy and five-year-old Callum, were allowed to advance through the boarding gate. But Kerri Moore was told there was an issue with her ticket and prevented from boarding.

"I was shocked," said Kerri Moore, who added she received no clear explanation as to what was wrong.

The perplexed parents decided Steve Moore and the children would still get on the flight so the kids could get home.

"It was a crazy feeling," he said. "You don't want to leave someone behind. I felt terrible for my kids. I knew how upset they were."

'No compassion, no empathy'

The three of them boarded, but only for a moment. 

"We're sitting on the plane, we're buckled, my daughter's crying," said Steve Moore.

Suddenly, a voice on the plane's PA system told the Moores to return to the gate. After deboarding, they were told they wouldn't be getting back on.

"They said, 'We realized you had tickets issued by American (Airlines) and we're kicking you off the flight for Air Canada passengers,'" Steve Moore recalled. "There was no recourse, there was no compassion, no empathy."

Fellow passenger Brent Crawford corroborates the family's story. He says he and his wife Susan had valid tickets on the same flight but were put on standby because the plane was overbooked.

Crawford believes an Air Canada agent then decided to let Crawford and his wife board and remove the Moores because they came from American Airlines. 

"When you get these overbooking situations, somebody is going to get screwed over," says Crawford from his home in Moncton. 

The Moores said they asked an Air Canada supervisor what to do next and were told: "You're not our problem."

The family then returned to American Airlines, which put them on another flight that evening. They landed in Winnipeg the next day — close to 24 hours after their travel saga had begun.

Family didn't want to fly?

Air Canada blames American Airlines, telling CBC News that American failed to issue an e-ticket to Kerri Moore when they rebooked her.​ American Airlines denies any wrongdoing.

Air Canada acknowledged that its employee at the check-in gate should have caught the error before issuing a boarding pass to Kerri Moore.

The airline also pointed the finger at the Moores themselves, saying the plane had not been overbooked but that Steve Moore and the children voluntarily left the flight because Kerri didn't want her family to fly without her.

"Respecting her wishes, we informed the family and they deplaned," spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick in an email to CBC News.

The family vehemently denies that. On Feb. 25, Steve Moore sent a letter of complaint to Air Canada outlining the family's experience, including being ordered off the plane.

Air Canada says Kerri Moore couldn't board the plane because American Airlines made a booking error. (CBC)

After six weeks, they received a response from a customer relations official at Air Canada. Christine Brown apologized for denying the family seats on the plane, and offered compensation: a small gift for each of the children and a $100 travel voucher for each family member "as a goodwill gesture."

CBC News showed Fitzpatrick the email from Brown. Fitzpatrick responded that there's no official record of the Moores being denied boarding, and that the airline is following up with the family on the matter.

On Wednesday, Steve Moore said the family had yet to hear from the airline following Brown's initial email from two weeks ago.

He's also still waiting for a requested US$100 refund for the checked bag fees he paid for a flight the family never got on. The promised gifts for the children also have yet to arrive.

Adequate compensation?

CBC News asked Air Canada why the family was only given four $100 travel vouchers as compensation.

U.S. regulations state that passengers denied boarding when flying from a U.S. destination — even on a Canadian airline — are entitled to 400 per cent of the one-way fare (to a maximum of US$1,350) if they are delayed more than four hours.

The family didn't get another flight until more than five hours later. If the U.S. rules apply to their situation, the Moores should be awarded $1,350 each.

CBC News asked Air Canada about more compensation for the Moores. It did not directly respond, instead emphasizing that it still believes American Airlines was to blame because it failed to issue Kerri Moore an e-ticket.

That's scant solace, the Moores say.

"If you've made a mistake, the best thing to do in life is to admit to it," Steve Moore said.

After publishing this story, American Airlines offered the family $100 each in travel vouchers and apologized for their experience. But the airlines says it has not yet found any evidence of wrongdoing on its part. 

Clarifications

  • A previous headline for this story said that the family was "pulled off" the plane. We have changed the wording to emphasize that no physical force was used when the family was asked to leave the plane.
    Apr 26, 2017 11:32 AM ET

About the Author

Sophia Harris

Business reporter

Sophia Harris has worked as a CBC video journalist across the country, covering everything from the start of the annual lobster fishery in Yarmouth, N.S., to farming in Saskatchewan. She now has found a good home at the business unit in Toronto. Contact: sophia.harris@cbc.ca

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