Dream vacation turns into flier frustration for Calgary family

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By Tomasia DaSilva Reporter  Global News

WATCH: A Calgary family is frustrated after a series of mishaps on their dream vacation and the lack of response from Air Canada. Tomasia DaSilva has the airline’s response and your rights as a flier.

A Calgary family is expressing frustration with how Air Canada handled a vacation gone wrong.

The Percival family said they fully expected flight cancellations when a big snowstorm hit Calgary on April 27 but not the nightmare that followed.

“We knew that it was going to be dicey,” Ellen Percival said.

Calgary family speaks to Global News about their vacation that went wrong, and Air Canada’s response.

Calgary family speaks to Global News about their vacation that went wrong, and Air Canada’s response.Global News

After their first flight was cancelled, they were rebooked on another flight the next day — but that one also experienced delays.

“The captain came over [the intercom] and said, ‘We’re very sorry. There’s been a maintenance issue. The maintenance crew forgot to empty the black water tanks.’”

READ MORE: Canada’s air passenger ‘bill of rights’ comes into effect Monday. Here’s what it means for you

The Percivals ended up missing their connection from Los Angeles to San Diego. The airline rebooked them on another flight but because it would have arrived too late to catch their cruise, they decided to rent a car.

They made it to the ship with moments to spare, but their luggage did not.

“Most of our trip, unfortunately, was spent either sitting at piers or begging people to please find our luggage,” Percival said.

The family said after numerous phone calls asking where the luggage was and not getting any answers, they were forced to go to shopping.

“At one point I just said, ‘I don’t even want my luggage. We’re happy in Old Navy. We’re rocking the look. Could you please just find our luggage and send it home,’” Percival said.

The bags were eventually sent to Calgary. Percival said they were wet and damaged but Air Canada was quick to reimburse them for the luggage as well as the clothes they bought while on the trip.

The Calgary family’s luggage arrives in Calgary without them.
The Calgary family’s luggage arrives in Calgary without them.Courtesy: Ellen Percival
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But it was a different story when they asked for compensation for some of the other things, Percival said.

“Help us out here a little. We’re not asking for tens of thousands of dollars. I’m asking for $300 and something for the rental car, maybe some points back because we didn’t get those flights and the seat selection as we weren’t on the plane,” she said.

Air Canada sent her an email stating weather was to blame for the cancellation of the first flight and also for subsequent flight delays. The airline told her that was out of their control.

“This wasn’t weather,” Percival said. “This was the captain saying that the black water tanks hadn’t been emptied.”

WATCH: Air Canada turbulence: What are the rights of passengers injured on a flight?

Gabor Lukacs, an air passenger rights advocate, told Global News while the weather explanation flies for the first flight, it doesn’t hold up for the second.

“The maintenance issue — that is something entirely within the airline’s control,” Lukacs said. “They were supposed to do an operation that they failed to do. That was the reason that the flight was delayed and therefore, the airline is on the hook for all expenses and all damages.”

Global News reached out to Air Canada with Percival’s complaint. At first, we were told the file was being reviewed. A day later, Percival got an email saying the airline would be paying her for the rental car and it’s currently looking into the other costs.

Lukacs said the airline should have done that before the media got involved.

“I find it very troubling that in this day and age a passenger has to travel with a journalist on their left and a lawyer on their right to actually be treated fairly,” he said.

The Percivals said this didn’t ruin their holiday — they’re just glad Air Canada stepped up.

“I was just looking for, ‘Wow, that must have really sucked for you. We’re so sorry that you had to spend hours and hours of your holiday sitting in piers waiting for your luggage that never came,’” she said.

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