P.E.I. family's 10-year-old son bumped from overbooked Air Canada flight

A Stratford, P.E.I., family is speaking out after their 10-year-old son was bumped from an Air Canada flight during their March Break vacation to Costa Rica.

The family had purchased plane tickets from the airline last August

Cole Doyle, 10, in Stratford, PEI was bumped from an Air Canada flight. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

A Stratford, P.E.I., family is speaking out after their 10-year-old-son was bumped from an Air Canada flight during their March Break vacation to Costa Rica.

Shanna and Brett Doyle booked the trip back in August, but when they tried to pick their seats the day before they left for their flight from Charlottetown to Montreal, they couldn't get a seat for Cole.

Shanna Doyle went to the Charlottetown Airport for some answers, only to be told the flight was overbooked.

She then asked an Air Canada agent if she or another adult they were travelling with could give up their seat for Cole.

"I was told that while yes we could give up our seat, there would be no guarantee that the seat would go to my son," she said.

The agent told her that it was possible the seat would be given to a more frequent flyer.

More problems

Doyle says the family opted to book a flight for Cole and his father out of Moncton later that day, but when they arrived in Moncton, that flight was cancelled.

The pair ended up being rerouted to Halifax to catch another connecting flight.

Doyle estimates the family spent at least an extra $1,000 to get their son to Costa Rica.

'What ... are we paying for?'

Doyle says Air Canada has offered them an e-voucher that can be used for future travel and told them they can submit their expenses for compensation.

But, Doyle says she would have preferred not to have endured the stress in the first place.

"We're spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for airline tickets, and we're not guaranteed a seat. So my question is what in reality are we paying for?" said Doyle.

Simon Doyle (left), Shanna Doyle (centre) and Cole Doyle (right) look at photos of their March Break vacation in Costa Rica. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

The situation was also stressful for Cole Doyle, who didn't know if he would be able to join his family in Costa Rica.

"I'm like crying in the back seat, and I don't have a plane. Like how do I get to where I'm going? I don't know if I'm even going to make it with my family," he said.

In an e-mail to CBC News, Air Canada said it has apologized to the family and is working with them to provide compensation.

Air Canada responds

The practice of airlines overbooking flights has generated a lot of attention in the last week after a passenger was dragged off a full United Express flight by airport police in Chicago last Sunday.

In its statement to CBC News, Air Canada says it appreciates "customers are inconvenienced when they are affected by an oversold flight and thus we take a very conservative approach to avoid this situation arising, and when it does, we pay significant compensation."

The company says most major airlines oversell because it helps keep costs down for customers.

"Overselling also makes it possible for us to sell flexible tickets, including fully refundable tickets, which many customers desire," Air Canada said in the email.