Fort McMurray mother receives hefty airline bill despite Air Canada promise
Air Canada says the situation was a misunderstanding and the family can be reimbursed
A woman returning to Fort McMurray for the first time since the wildfire had to pay hundreds of dollars to fly her suitcases homes even though the airline promised there would be no charge.
Christina Cormier said she even had the tickets to prove that she and her two-year-old daughter were allowed four suitcases that weighed slightly more than the usual limit since they were evacuees going back to the town.
But she said staff working at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Montreal Saturday morning billed them anyway.
"I've been away from Fort McMurray for two months. I was just tired. I wanted to go home and be with my husband," Cormier said Saturday afternoon upon her arrival in Fort McMurray.
So she paid.
'That doesn't seem right'
When the wildfire swept through town in early May, Cormier and her daughter went to stay with her parents in Montreal.
Her husband, Yassine El Jazouli, went back earlier to tend to the smoke damage in their downtown home. With such a young daughter, they decided not to settle back in as a family until it was completely clean and safe.
El Jazouli booked the Air Canada tickets for Cormier and their daughter using their Red Cross registration numbers. The airline had a deal with the charity to alleviate some of the burden for evacuees who had left the province.
Cormier said when she went to check the four suitcases as per the tickets, staff at the desk told her they were overweight. Typically, customers flying domestically are allowed two bags, but each one costs $30 and can only weigh up to 23 kilograms.
"When they told me that I had to pay, I was like 'well that doesn't seem right,' " said Cormier. She called her husband to confirm the fees were waived and that she was allowed to pack nine extra kilograms per bag.
Three out of the four suitcases Cormier was carrying weighed between 23 and 32 kilograms, but she was billed anyway. The suitcases were more or less full of clothes and books for the two-year-old.
Air Canada spokesperson Angela Mah said in an email that baggage fees are still being waived for evacuees returning home.
"Our sincere apologies for the inconvenience due to the misunderstanding by the airport teams," she said.
Mah advised customers who had to pay for their baggage upon returning to Fort McMurray can submit an online request for reimbursement through a "fairly quick" process.