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Couple claims Air Canada almost kicked them off a flight for complaining

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Nov 29th, 2017

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What rights do airline passengers really have?

A Canadian couple travelling on Air Canada Flight 796 from Los Angeles to Toronto last week are asking themselves that question after a seat mixup almost got them deplaned.

Eric Rothschild and his wife had booked two aisle seats across from one another. However, when they arrived at the airport, their seats had changed.

They came to an agreement on another seating arrangement at the check-in desk, only to find out at boarding their seats had been changed yet again.

Then, while waiting in line to board the plane, Rothschild said he and his wife were voicing their concerns to each other.

“My wife made the comment like, ‘This is ridiculous,’” said Rothschild. “An agent going by says, ‘I know what happened.’ And I said, ‘That’s bull____.’ And she said ‘You know, sir, we can can deplane you. We don’t like your attitude.’”

Air Canada’s International Tariff states a passenger can be removed if “the person’s conduct, or condition is or has been known to be abusive, offensive, threatening, intimidating, violent, or otherwise disorderly and in reasonable judgement of a responsible, carrier employee.”

But Rothschild said he wasn’t yelling or causing a scene.

Gabor Lukacs, an advocate with Air Passenger Rights said he’s been in a similar situation and believes airline staff resort to threatening passengers with removal too often.

“If two passengers are talking, it’s none of the airline agent’s business to interject into the conversation,” said Lukacs. “It’s offensive and it’s nothing short of harassment.”

In an email to Rothschild, Air Canada customer care said the incident is under management review.

“From what you’ve described, we can understand why you wanted to contact us,” the email said.

Air Canada did not answer CityNews’s questions about the seating mixup and how staff is trained when it comes to removing passengers from an aircraft.

Rothschild did receive 15 per cent off his next Air Canada flight.  However, he said he’s not looking for a freebie or discount.

He wants a clear explanation as to what happened — and an apology.

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