These travelers say they were involuntarily denied boarding. Were they?

A baggage handler was late to work one day, delaying an Air Canada flight and setting off a chain of events that caused Janice and David Beebe to miss their flight.

At least that’s what they tell us in their request for our help. But we haven’t been able to locate any confirmation that their flight delay was the result of a tardy baggage handler. Their story is one of regret for our advocates, who weren’t able to assist the Beebes to get their desired resolution.

The Beebes and their two grandchildren were flying from Thunder Bay, Canada, to Tampa, Fla., via Toronto. Their flight from Thunder Bay to Toronto was delayed, and they missed their connecting flight to Tampa.

“We had gone through security before I was informed that we couldn’t get on board because our bag wasn’t on board,” says David Beebe.

Air Canada placed the Beebes on the next available flight to Tampa, which was scheduled to depart eight hours later. This forced the Beebes and their grandchildren to spend the next eight hours in the Toronto airport.

The Beebes wrote to Air Canada to complain about their treatment, asking for a refund of their airfares of 2,400 Canadian dollars ($1,816). They received an apology from Air Canada and an offer of a goodwill gesture of 25 percent off the base cost of a future flight.

But the Beebes were not happy with this offer. As David Beebe pointed out in his response, “The delay is no fault of ours and with two grandchildren to entertain for eight hours, I feel the compensation should be better than 25 percent off a base fare.” He also asked if the late baggage handler was reprimanded.

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Unfortunately for the Beebes, Air Canada denied them any additional compensation. Janice Beebe then contacted our advocacy team.

Are the Beebes correct that they should have received a full refund?

Part of the reason that they were not offered one may be that in their letter to Air Canada, they referred to “Rule 100 — Denied Boarding” in Air Canada’s domestic tariff. But because their flight was international, the Beebes’ situation would be covered under Rule 90 of Air Canada’s international tariff, which provides that:

Carrier-Caused Refunds
(1) For the purpose of this paragraph, the term “Carrier-Caused Refund” (sometimes referred to as “Involuntary Refund”) shall mean any refund for reasons within the carrier’s control made in the event the passenger is prevented from using the provided for in his/her ticket. For example, because delay or cancellation of flight within carrier’s control, inability to provide previously confirmed space (denied boarding), substitution of a different type of equipment or to a lower class of service by carrier (downgrade) other than upon passenger’s request, missed connections due to schedule irregularity within carrier’s control, or omission of a scheduled stop due to a situation within carrier’s control.
(2) Amount of Carrier-Caused Refunds
The amount of involuntary refunds will be as follows, unless otherwise provided elsewhere in this tariff and subject to applicable law:
a) When no portion of the trip has been made, or when due to a schedule irregularity within carrier’s control, and passenger chooses to no longer travel and return to point of origin, a full refund will be issued.
b) When a portion of the trip has been made, the amount of refund of the unused portion will be prorated based on mileage.

The Beebes would indeed be entitled to a refund if they hadn’t been able to continue on their trip. However, Air Canada did place them on the next available flight. Unfortunately for the Beebes, that was all Air Canada was required to do. As annoying as an eight-hour wait with two children in an airport can be, it doesn’t entitle the Beebes to any additional compensation — even though the delay was not their fault.

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We wish we could give the Beebes a better answer. But because we only have their word that the delay was due to an airline employee’s tardiness, we aren’t going to be able to get a better resolution for them than the one Air Canada offered. We hope they enjoyed the rest of their trip with no further mishaps.

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for

  • Bubbles

    If you have a delay in air travel, why do so many people think they can get a full refund? You got to your destination, their job was done – albeit with a hiccup. It sucks things didn’t go as planned, but 25% off is pretty good!

  • Noah Kimmel

    not sure 25% off a base future flight is that good, especially in high tax canada. But, agree that 8 hour delay does not immediately necessitate 4 round trip tickets be fully refunded. Also curious what time they showed up for the flight


    Something is missing here and I doubt it was the baggage handler. If that was the case then others would also have missed the flight. And they would have complained about it on the later flight to Tampa. I wonder what details the OP has omitted.

  • C Schwartz

    I have to agree with you. Was theirs the only bag that missed the flight? Were the passengers the only ones denied boarding?

    The original flight to Toronto was delayed, how did that play into the missed Toronto to Tampa flight?

    And one late baggage handler caused all this? So no baggage handlers have ever called in sick or been late to work because of traffic or car problems?

    Too much information is missing.

  • MarkKelling

    If it actually was the fault of insufficient staff on hand at the airport, AC should have at least provided some meal vouchers. But I don’t think anything beyond that was required.

    I have been delayed more than 8 hours on flight connections and have just been happy that there was a flight to get me to my destination and never thought f asking for more.

  • MarkKelling

    Thunder Bay isn’t exactly an international hub like ORD or EWR is. It is very nice though. that would most likely be the source of their missed bag. They might actually only have one baggage handler for the entire airport. ;-)

  • Maria K. Telegdy

    I think the excuses by airlines are ridiculous, they should find better excuses that are more believable. The most used excuse lately is mechanical problems, over and over, if their airplanes are in such a bad shape, this airlines should stop flying all together.

  • Alan Gore

    Bags get delayed all the time without flocks of passengers being held up until their bags catch up to them. Or is this another wacky rule that Air Canada pulled from its substantial colon?

  • DReid

    Things happen. I just don’t understand why people think that everything in their lives can run perfectly. They got where they had to be and on the same day. They didn’t miss a cruise or have something horrible happen at the other end of their destination. Is it a drag? Yeah, you bet. But that doesn’t mean that their flights should be free or deeply discounted. As others have said, there seems to be more to this story than what we’ve read. They should be thankful that they were able to get to their destination on the same day and enjoy their vacation. Time to move on with life.

  • Bill___A

    Although I have a limited amount of sympathy for them,if they can’t deal with the kids for a few hours in an airport, what are they doing taking them on a trip? Unfortunately, things happen in the transportation industry, and not all of them are good. However, one is not entitled to a full refund every time there is a bump on the road. Would the grandparents be willing to accept paying double or triple fare if the kids were unruly on the plane? They should just make the best of the situation and life goes on.

  • Noah Kimmel

    in fairness, looking at just Delta last February (easiest data to pull), they marketed some 5000 flights per day and averaged 83% on time (within 14 minutes of schedule). I’d say that’s pretty darn good. They also had a streak of 200 days without a mainline cancellation this past year. We read a lot of problems on this site, but sometimes we have to remember the good stuff too.

    Delays are usually mechanical, weather, or something related to either of those. What would you want it to be? Do you want to fly on a plane deemed not mechanically safe for passenger travel?

  • sirwired

    The real question, like in many of these cases, is “How soon did they check in?” Was this a case of showing up at the ticket counter 20 minutes before the flight while AC made their best effort to get the bags there on-time, or were they there an hour before the flight, but their bags inexplicably didn’t make the plane?

    I wish the advocates would remember to ask this question for Denied Boarding cases.

  • joycexyz

    I don’t get the part about being denied boarding because their bags weren’t on board. Is this some strange new rule?

  • pauletteb

    The OP is claiming that particular reason for the delay, NOT the airline.

  • pauletteb

    We only have the OP’s uncorroborated reason for the delay.

  • Maria K. Telegdy

    well, the airlines don’t look stellar in this situations do they?

  • RightNow9435

    Air Canada—-to be avoided. On that recent flight that caught fire at YYZ and had to be be aborted, AC”generously” gave the passengers $25 each. (this info per 2 people I know who were on that flight)

  • Lindabator

    highly doubt this was the airline’s response — the passengers probably reached for anything to get free tickets for their not making the connection – and if the delay meant no baggage made it on time for these guys, then they booked too short a connection time — or we would be hearing from a lot of other folks

  • Lindabator

    flight connection did not make it in time to load their luggage, and you do NOT get to fly with baggage on another flight internationally — since these are the only people complaining, and no mention of a ton of others, I would say they booked flights without enough connection time – PERIOD

  • Lindabator

    correct – and since they can point to no one else delayed, I think they just booked a too-tight connection, and when you fly internationally, you AND the bag must fly together, so….

  • Lindabator

    no – international flights always require you travel with your bags – so if too tight a connection, and plane is closed, you travel later

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