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I recently had an unpleasant experience where Air Canada bumped a 2.5 hour international connection down to a 30 minute international connection that became a 5 minute one after flight delays. This was the direct result of the airline putting me and a travel companion on an earlier flight that turned a reasonable connection into an impossible one. The original flight we booked still flew (and we could have made it) but they refused to check us in as the check in window had closed. The end result in our case will be (if everything else goes smoothly) a net 14 hour trip delay.

Right now, all we've gotten from the airline customer service was a voucher to share a room (as two unmarried adults) in a dingy 2-star hotel 2 miles from Toronto Pearson.

Is there really nothing more a consumer can expect from an airline legally? Are there international terms of carriage or consumer protections that we could invest the next 12 hours of wretched travel time into hounding the airline over? Can an airline arbitrarily change any customer's itinerary to any other intinerary without limitation so long as it arrives at the same destination?

  • I am a bit confused as to what happened. " This was the direct result of the airline putting me and a travel companion on an earlier flight -- but they refused to check us in as the check in window had closed". Please detail a little, was this a schedule change days/weeks/months before the flight? If you had two flights, say A connecting to B which changed and what check-in...? – chx Mar 29 '17 at 2:27
  • Our original itinerary involved getting to Vancouver from Seoul and leaving on a flight to Toronto 2.5 hours later, followed by a flight to ATL. 5 days before departure Air Canada changed our itinerary to have us arrive in Vancouver and leave on a flight to Toronto only 30 minutes later. When we got to Toronto it would have still been possible to get aboard our ATL flight but since AC had changed our itinerary after our missed connection in Vancouver we had now also lost our old Toronto-ATL reservations and were not allowed to board. Instead we were given a flight for 9am the next morning. – pavja2 Mar 29 '17 at 2:35
  • Allowing to board is not the same as check in, that's why your post is so confusing, I recommend editing your post and then deleting the comment (and I will delete mine too). – chx Mar 29 '17 at 2:55
  • Sorry, it's still not clear what happened. If you missed your connection at YVR, how did you get to YYZ to then miss the ATL flight? If they rebooked you back to the later YYZ flight, you would still have missed the ATL flight. – Johns-305 Mar 29 '17 at 17:22
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I presume you are flying economy and purchased the tickets with dollars and not miles. Business or award tickets have very different rules and business award tickets have downright crazy rules whereas you can force Air Canada to make seats available as an award if there's no other way even if that flight otherwise is not bookable as an award. I did this just a few weeks ago when they moved my Vancouver-Chicago flight up a few hours so I had five minutes left to catch my Chicago - Stockholm flight. You need to call Aeroplan for this and be polite but unrelenting.

Back to revenue economy tickets: if you were notified of an itinerary change before the start of travel, you had the right to refuse the change and get a full refund. If you started flying and subsequent legs needed a change you do not have a real choice but to suck it up. Compensation kicks in once you are more than 24 hours late compared to the itinerary you started with -- and again, that's not the itinerary you booked, you can book flights many months ahead which simply change when they fly but the itin you accepted implicitly by showing up for your first flight.

Based on your comment, your time to act was five days ago and now there's extremely little to none you can do. You can file a complaint but I am not sure you have a lot of leverage here.

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