A recent flight to visit friends and family for a birthday turned south for a Smithers mother.
Lynn Mackenzie was waiting outside the Smithers Airport to pick up her 16-year-old daughter Sadie off an Air Canada flight from Vancouver when the plane was turned around due to fog.
“I could hear the plane, so I go there thinking that if you can hear the plane then it will land,” she said.
After missing her daughter’s messages, Mackenzie said she attempted to contact the airline to see if they would be providing a hotel room for the night in Vancouver.
She continued, “… they couldn’t even tell me if they were going to provide a hotel room or not. They told Sadie that she wasn’t going to be able to get a hotel room.”
According to Mackenzie, Air Canada also denied her request to relay a message for her daughter to assure things would be okay because of security concerns.
After her daughter landed, she was able to contact her directly and paid $500 to stay at a nearby hotel.
Mackenzie submitted a complaint with the airline soon afterwards and later received a response that said she could have paid more for her daughter to be looked after.
“I never saw an option on the ticket purchasing website. There’s children and there’s adult but once they’re 16-17, you’re paying for an adult ticket,” she said.
“They knew she was an underage person because you have to put their age and they charged me for an adult ticket.”
Others who were on her daughter’s flight were also not provided hotels or a refund according to Mackenzie.
“If a flight is delayed or turned around, it should be the responsibility of the airliner to contact the parent and let them know directly,” she said.
Air Canada provided My Bulkley Lakes Now with the following statement:
“For safety reasons, the vast majority of hotels will not accept a minor to check-in and stay unaccompanied. In situations where Air Canada provides hotel accommodation following an irregular operation, an external licensed caretaker organization is utilized to accompany, supervise and provide care for minors at hotels. If the caretaker service is not available, we will have the minor remain at the airport in the vicinity of staff who are available 24 hours, and where there is security authority onsite. We have looked into this particular situation, and we have reminded our Airport customer service team to contact the caretaker organization in order to arrange and permit hotel accommodation for minors as per our policy. Our customer relations team will be in contact with the family.”
NDP Transport Critic Taylor Bachrach also commented on the situation:
“Air Canada’s unfair treatment of the young person from Smithers is completely unacceptable, and is emblematic of the inconsistent application of air passenger rights in Canada. Airlines should take responsibility for the safety of unaccompanied minors travelling in their care and not leave them stranded.”
This isn’t the first time Mackenzie’s daughter has traveled solo, although she said the other times went smoothly.