Elizabeth Coffi Tabu, 71, was scheduled to fly from Ottawa, Canada to France on July 19. She was late in getting to a connecting flight in Montreal after a delay out of Ottawa, according to Tabu’s daughter, Jerryne Mahele Nyota, who spoke with CBC.
Tabu was recovering from cancer treatment and needed to use a wheelchair. She was told she would have to go to a hotel to wait for another flight to France the following day. The younger male passenger was in the same predicament with missing the flight. The airline told them there was only one hotel room available and that they would have to share, CBC reported.
Air Canada gave the two passengers one hotel voucher. When they got to the hotel, they discovered the hotel room only had one bed.
“The decision was he would be sleeping on the sofa [bed] and my mom in the bed,” Mahele Nyota told CBC. “I told her, ‘No, you don’t sleep with a total stranger. No, don’t do that. Stay there, and I’m going to do what I can to find a solution.'”
Mahele Nyota said that her mother and the male passenger tried to tell the airline that they didn’t know each other, CBC reported.
Tabu was in Ottawa visiting her daughter and grandchildren, a trip she makes nearly every year, albeit in better health. Only after a long phone call with Mahele Nyota did the airline get her mother a private room at another hotel.
The next day, Air Canada offered Tabu a seat with more legroom and a $20 food voucher. Since the CBC report was published the airline also offered the family $250 and told CBC, it apologized.
The airline indeed offered Tabu another room, but Mahele Nyota said that the room was not provided for free. She was skeptical the airline would compensate her family, according to CBC.
Mahele Nyota is worried that this could happen to other passengers.
“Now, [my mother is] realizing, how is it possible? You know? And she said, ‘It’s not fair, it’s not fair, they never gave me another option,'” Mahele Nyota said, via CBC.
“It is not our policy to have passengers who are not traveling together share a room. In this case, an error was initially made allocating rooms,” Air Canada said in a statement, via The Independent.
Another Air Canada Passenger Incident
On the same day as the hotel room drama, two women got kicked off an Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Yellowknife, in Canada’s Northwest Territories, CBC reported.
The two women were on the flight with students they had chaperoned to go on a college tour. They got kicked off the flight after thinking they had paid for an upgrade to business class, which turned out to be a lesser upgrade to preferred seating. Rachel Tambour-Zoe said she may not have used the correct terminology when booking the seats. She was hoping it could be sorted out by the flight crew, but the discussion didn’t go the way she expected.
“I felt very belittled,” she told CBC. “I just felt … I felt very, very, very low class.”
Still, she told CBC that she accepted the flight crew’s assessment and did not push the issue. Then she was kicked off.
The co-chaperone was confused about why she was also kicked off since she wasn’t involved in the discussion.
“I didn’t even say two words,” Alyssa Cochrane told CBC. “I’m like, why am I being kicked off? [The flight attendant said] ‘Because you guys are traveling together.'”
Rebecca Vrdolak, who was traveling in the same group, said a crew member asked Tambour-Zoe to leave when she was already sitting quietly in her seat.
“They need to be a little more compassionate towards their passengers because the way I was treated was very, very unprofessional,” said Tambour-Zoe, via CBC.
The flight was actually operated under the Air Canada Express brand by Jazz Aviation. CBC received a statement on the incident which differed with the views of those passengers.
Spokeswoman Debra Williams said that “a passenger became verbally abusive to the boarding agents.”
“Once on board, the situation continued, and the passenger insisted to be placed in the business cabin, however, the tickets and boarding cards indicated preferred seats within the economy cabin,” Williams added.
The statement continued that crew was unable to “de-escalate the situation” and so “for the comfort and safety of other customers and crew, the decision was finally taken to remove the disruptive customer from the aircraft.”