Air Canada denies seat to N.S. man with peanut allergy
Airline says it has a 48-hour notification policy
A Nova Scotia woman wants an explanation and a refund from Air Canada, after her son was denied a seat on a plane leaving Halifax last weekend because he's allergic to peanuts.
Matthew Burns, 19, of Louisdale, Cape Breton, who has a severe peanut allergy, was headed to Fiji for a two-week stint of volunteering. April Burns said her son is no stranger to travelling and has never been refused by an airline before.
"We fly about four or five times a year to different countries," she said. "In March 2010, we went to the Bahamas — from Halifax to Toronto, Toronto to the Bahamas — and there were no problems, no questions, nothing."
Last weekend, Matthew was booked on an Air Canada flight from Halifax to Toronto, headed eventually to Fiji with a volunteer group.
Burns said she booked the ticket through RBC Rewards, and told them of her son's severe peanut allergy. They did not call Air Canada directly.
Matthew Burns arrived at Halifax's Stanfield International Airport, armed with several Epi Pens and allergy medications for the flight, but Air Canada would not let him on the plane.
"The supervisor told my husband, 'Your son is not boarding this flight today unless you get in contact with Air Canada medical desk.' He handed my husband the paper and said, 'Now, you're on your own. Basically, you're on your way, you handle it,'" Burns said.
Burns rebooked her son on an American Airlines flight that left a couple of hours later on the same day, and said that airline had no problem with her son's allergy.
Air Canada wouldn't comment specifically on the case of Matthew Burns, but said its policy concerning travellers with peanut allergies is clearly spelled out on its website.
The airline requires 48 hours notice to create a peanut free zone around a person's seat and may also ask for a medical certificate.
Air Canada told April Burns that it would look into her complaint and get back to her in three weeks.
"I especially want people with peanut and nut allergies to realize that when you book a flight with Air Canada, you could be denied boarding and it's not right," Burns said.
"To me, it was unjust. I would feel a little differently maybe if they would have helped us find a solution. They had no solution, other than calling this number, and sending us off on our own and saying we're not helping you."