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COMPLAINT: American Airlines' Misinformation about Canadian Visa

 
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  #1  
Old Nov 16, 2010, 4:04 AM
saeed saeed is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 3

This is to complain about the denial of American Airlines in issuing boarding passes for my elderly parents’ flight from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Texas, United States to Toronto Pearson International Airport, Ontario, Canada on September 19th, 2010, Flight 1252. My parents originally entered Canada on April 8th, 2010 holding Canadian single-entry visas which is good for six(6) months. They decided to travel to United States to visit me, in Stillwater, Oklahoma, during the initial six month visa window as authorized by the Canadian immigration officer. This second journey was based upon information obtained by the Canadian government that indicated my parents could come to the United States without needing a second visa. It is clearly indicated on the website of the Canadian government (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/informa...isit-faq01.asp) that for Single-entry visa holders, you must get a new visitor visa to re-enter Canada except for travels to United States within the initial period authorized by the immigration officer. Consequently they did not apply for a new visa to re-enter Canada. Based upon this information my parents traveled from Canada to the U.S., believing there would be no trouble on their return. Upon their arrival in Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Texas on September 19th, 2010, (which is during the initial Canadian visa period), American Airlines refused to issue boarding pass to my parents because they did not have valid Canadian visas. I had no choice but to change their flight and send them to Buffalo, NY where my brother could pick them up and drive them to Toronto, Ontario. They passed the Canadian border with exactly the same documents that we showed American Airlines. In other words my parents’ Canadian visas were valid to re-enter Canada.

Certainly there is either a malfunction in American Airlines procedures or lack of information about the most updated immigration regulations.

The consequences of wrong decision made by American Airlines are as follows:
1. $150 fine per ticket, $300 for both tickets, to change the date and departure city of the flights. The new flight was from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Chicago O’Hare, IL (Flight No 325), and Chicago O’Hare, IL to Buffalo, NY on September 22nd, 2010.
2. Driving back from Dallas, Texas to Stillwater, Oklahoma or 270 miles which would be $135 with the rate of $0.5/mile.
3. Driving from Stillwater, Oklahoma to Tulsa, Oklahoma and driving back from the airport or 160 miles which would be $80 with the rate of $0.5/mile.
4. One round trip flight from Tulsa to Chicago O’Hare (Flight Numbers 325 & 4316) with the price of $583.90 for me to help my parents to catch their connecting flight in Chicago. This was due to the fact that they are senior citizens and do not read or speak English very well, and American Airlines could not guarantee that they will be helped to find the connecting gates of their flight from Chicago to Buffalo. Also because of the frustrations of the delay in their schedule, my parents were not in a stable emotional situation, and could not tolerate the stress of missing a connecting flight in Chicago.
5. A round trip from Toronto, Ontario to Buffalo, NY or 200 miles which would be $100 with the rate of $0.5/mile. My brother in Toronto, Canada had to drive to Buffalo, NY and pick up my parents and drive them to Toronto from Canadian border.
6. My brother missed one day at work because of round trip from Toronto, Ontario to Buffalo, NY. Considering $500/day worth of time the value of damage would be $500.

The dollar value of damage totals $1698.90. This does not come close to the emotional damages caused by frustration, and stress, especially for my elderly parents, that cannot be quantified by a dollar value.

I am trying to correct the misinformation being utilized by, not only American Airlines, all airlines who provide international flight services. The fear and anxiety suffered by my parents should not befall another person, whether they are senior citizens or not.

Conclusion:
If you are not a U.S. citizen, try not to choose American Airlines for international flights.
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  #2  
Old Nov 16, 2010, 12:36 PM
DazedNadConfused DazedNadConfused is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 41

Sounds like a mess for your family. When speaking to the AA personnel in Texas did you have the information for the Canadian Customs? I have had the pleasure of educating airlines over the years on this very subject and it has never been a fun experience. I am guessing that AA saw "single entry" and ran with that as Gospel?

Others on this board will have better technical knowledge of your problem but from the looks of things a civil suit may be you best course of action.
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  #3  
Old Nov 16, 2010, 5:15 PM
saeed saeed is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 3

We were at the airport for 9 hours, trying to think of all the possible solutions to this problem. I showed the webpage of Canadian government as well as the regulation code indicating that there is no need for new Canadian Visas in this case. But AA personnels refused to accept it, arguing that you should either have an official letter from the Canadian embassy or ask them to fax us a letter that you do not need new Canadian visas.
It was during weekend and all the Canadian embassies were closed but I finally talked to someone in Canadian Immigration Office located at Toronto over the phone and he mentioned that this case has been clearly indicated in our official website and we are not able to call airlines or issue letters at the present time. They also mentioned that in these cases the Airline has to contact them and ask for the right course of action. I asked AA personnels to contact Canadian Immigration Office but they refused to do so.
I think your guess is right and I am trying to spread the word to avoid such an incident from happening to other travelers to Canada.
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  #4  
Old Nov 16, 2010, 11:21 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

Saeed,
You have a perfectly valid complaint and I feel you should file a claim against AA in small claims court. I cannot imagine that you would lose. AA screwed up and they handled this situation very badly. One of the worst aspects of customer services in the US, is that even when you show them they are wrong, they will not take the initiative to try and resolve the problem. I hope you sue.. I am sure you will win. Let us know how you get on.

By the way: you are right about not flying US based airlines for international flights. They are terrible and it is almost always a mistake to fly with them.
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  #5  
Old Dec 7, 2010, 5:59 PM
saeed saeed is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 3

Here is AA's decision regarding my complaint:

"After reviewing the the documents, I concur that your parents' visas were still valid
to return to Canada. With that in mind, I've refunded the ticket change charges your
parents incurred. I have also refunded the ticket you purchased to travel from Tulsa
to Chicago, as well as the ticket service charge, as a one-time exception. Although
we can agree that some goodwill resolution is warranted, you must also keep in mind
that the personal decisions you and your brother made to assist your parents were
voluntary. Our obligation was simply to provide transportation for the ticketed
individuals. As such, we must decline to reimburse any lost wages or other expenses
that were not directly associated with the purchase of air travel. Your brother was
not a ticketed American Airlines passengers and therefore, there is no monetary
consideration applicable.

We realize that you may remain disappointed but we believe that our
resolution is fair and reasonable. We hope that we'll have another opportunity to be
of service to your family, under more optimal circumstances.

I hope you don't mind that I've sent my response via email. Please continue to send
us your comments through any communication channel that is most convenient for you.
However, we'll get to your feedback faster and respond more quickly if you contact us
again via AA.com."
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  #6  
Old Dec 7, 2010, 6:32 PM
HoustonFlyer HoustonFlyer is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 84

It was an honest mistake which the agents made and which AA is now willing to admit. Some forgiveness and compassion for the airline's position is called for on your part. In any event you may not get punitive damages or consequential damages if you sue. I would accept what they offer if I were you.
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  #7  
Old Dec 8, 2010, 2:20 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

In what way was this an honest mistake? AA refused to take reasonable steps to ensure that their information was correct.

Quote:
They also mentioned that in these cases the Airline has to contact them and ask for the right course of action. I asked AA personnels to contact Canadian Immigration Office but they refused to do so.
Their offer is the minimum they are legally required to reimburse the customer. They were 100% wrong and they are legally responsible for the consequences of their actions. I agree the lost wages is iffy, but driving to Buffalo to pick them up was entirely necessary to mitigate the problem that AA had created. It is not acceptable to simply say "this was your own decision".

The response does have one positive. It is not a "canned" response, but the truth is.. AA are legally responsible for the consequential damages of their negligence and this response it wholly inadequate. Not least because it does not contain one word of an apology for the distress and inconvience caused.

I would not accept this offer.
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