Shanna and Brett Doyle are seen with their sons, Cole, 10, and Simon, 8, in this undated family handout photo. The public outcry over the contentious airline practice of overbooking flights has found a new target in Atlantic Canada, where a 10-year-old P.E.I. boy was bumped from an Air Canada flight that was supposed to take his family to a sunny destination during the March break. The airline apologized to the family Monday after the boy could not be assigned a seat on the flight from Charlottetown to Costa Rica. courtesy Brett Doyle / VIA THE CANADIAN PRESS

The contentious practice by airlines of over booking flights has found a new target in Canada. A report in the Montreal Gazette says a  10-year-old Prince Edward Island (Atlantic Canada) boy was bumped from an Air Canada flight that was taking his family to their Costa Rica vacation during March break.

The report says the airline apologized to the family Monday after the boy could not be assigned a seat on the flight from Charlottetown to Costa Rica.

Brett Doyle says he booked his family last August. A day before their vacation was to start, Doyle said, checking-in online, he could not select a seat for his 10-year-old son.

after hours of the phone with Air Canada, Doyle’s wife drove to the airport and was told her son had been bumped due to over booking.

“The agent told us that the plane only had 28 seats, but that 34 tickets had been sold,” Doyle said. “She said it was very unlikely that six people wouldn’t show up for a flight over March break.”

The Doyle’s efforts became even more complicated when their Air Canada flight out of Moncton (New Brunswick) to meet the Costa Rica flight in Montreal, was cancelled and were forced to drive to Halifax and stay overnight in a hotel.

“We are currently following up to understand what went wrong and have apologized to Mr. Doyle and his family as well as offered a very generous compensation to the family for their inconvenience,” Air Canada spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur said in an email Monday.

Despite efforts to reach out to Air Canada, “it wasn’t until the media picked up the story that Air Canada actually contacted us,” said Doyle.

Doyle said he was offered a CA$1,600 voucher, which expires in one year. He negotiated with Air Canada to increase the voucher to CA$2,500 plus expenses, but it still doesn’t cover the cost of tickets for a family of four.

“Without sounding greedy, what I’d really like is to experience the trip we had planned for so many months and this voucher isn’t going to do that,” he said.

Stories of passengers being bumped off flights for overselling seats are not new.

Airline passenger advocate Gabor Lukacs calls overbooking “an egregious and deliberate form of breach of contract.” Lukacs said airlines oversell flights to keep profits high and shareholders happy.

“Airlines sell quite a few non-refundable tickets and yet they overbook,” he said. “Up until now, people were just putting up with it like suckers. But now people are fed up.”


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