Held up on my honeymoon – do I deserve a refund?

VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock.com

Ashley and Eliza Murphy didn’t make their flight to Paris.

People miss planes all the time, but usually not these kinds. After all, it was their honeymoon, and they thought they’d given themselves plenty of time to make their connection — until Air Canada decided to place another passenger’s interests above theirs, they claim.

Their case raises all kinds of interesting questions. Like, who’s the most important passenger on a plane? Also, when you disappoint your customer, what’s the correct response, and is it always the same thing as the right response?

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance. Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Beyond that, do the Murphys have any recourse, and is there something I can — or should — do to help?

Before I go any further, a promise: I won’t make any references to Murphy’s Law in this story. I’m sure they’ve heard it all before.

The Murphys were scheduled to fly from San Francisco to Paris via Montreal. And that’s when the trouble started. They settled into their seats and were ready for an on-time departure when the pilot made an announcement.

“The plane would be held 20 to 25 mins for a single first-class passenger,” remembers Ashley Murphy.

(The airline’s records contradict his memory. Air Canada claims it changed its schedule several hours earlier, presumably for reasons having nothing to do with another passenger.)

That created a little problem. The Murphys had 41 minutes to make their connecting flight to Paris, which, although it may have been a legal connection time, was cutting it close.

“As soon as we landed in Montreal, we quickly made our way to the connecting gate but were met with Air Canada staff who informed the six passengers in the same situation that we had all missed our flight,” he says. “To add insult to injury, they also lost my bag.”

Murphy asked a ticket agent for help. He took a look at the itinerary and said that even if his outbound flight had been on time, he still might have missed his Paris flight.

“Where did you book this itinerary?” the agent asked.

“Priceline,” said Murphy.

The agent admonished Murphy for that choice. Had he purchased the ticket through Aircanada.com, none of this would have happened, the employee assured him. Air Canada wouldn’t have allowed such a tight connection.

Oh, and travel insurance might have come in handy here.

I recently wrote a story about minimum connect times, and was surprised at how sensitive the airline operations people are to any suggestion they might be getting their numbers wrong. I guess that’s understandable when you have a couple like the Murphys waiting to make their honeymoon flight.

“The next flight to Paris was not until the next night,” he says. “We were put up in a Hilton near the airport and given meal vouchers, none of which we have a complaint about.”

Here’s what bothers him: The delay threw a wrench in the spokes of his honeymoon plans. His nonrefundable train tickets were no good, and he had to buy another set of tickets for $359. “Also, we forfeited the money spent for the first night of our stay in France,” he adds.

He asked for a refund. Air Canada’s response?

While we make every effort to operate our flights as scheduled, delays and cancellations are unavoidable parts of our business.

Although safe travel must always be our first priority, it is our hope that when disruptions occur our staff will meet the needs of all affected customers in a professional manner. We apologize for letting you down on this occasion.

As a measure of goodwill, we are pleased to offer you a one time saving of 25% off of the base fare on your next booking at aircanada.com.

You can probably imagine how this offer went over with the Murphys.

For those of you following along from your GDSs, here are the details of his routing: The Murphys flew on AC 760 out of SFO on May 31, 2014. Their connection to Paris was on AC 870. They ended up on AC 870 on June 1.

As far as I can tell, Air Canada met its obligations to the Murphys, as outlined in its conditions of carriage. They may have a case to pursue under EU 261, the European consumer law, since their final destination was Paris. EU 261, at least the way I interpret it, would apply to their flight.

But I don’t think anyone can persuade Air Canada to reimburse the couple for their train ticket and hotel. That’s something I rarely, if ever, see airlines do — and not in front of me. It sets a bad precedent.

As an interesting sidenote, Air Canada unwittingly revealed the value of a passenger sitting in the front of the plane. According to Murphy, it’s willing to delay six economy class passengers in order to help a single business-class customer. (Technically, it doesn’t have a first class cabin.)

Ah, don’t you love the mile-high caste system?

I think Air Canada could have done better, but I’m not sure how. Something just doesn’t feel right about a 25 percent discount, and I’m willing to pursue this one if you think Murphy has a case. But what should I ask for?

Should I mediate Ashley and Eliza Murphy's case?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

153 thoughts on “Held up on my honeymoon – do I deserve a refund?

  1. Priceline for a honeymoon and no safety margin on international travel. Seriousley?

    BTW: Air Canada doesn’t have First Class.

      1. They have 1st class on planes flying domestic and to points in North America only. Their international flights (Europe & the rest of the world) have business class. Their international business class is better than most US airlines’ 1st class.

          1. Which is where the AP’s issue began, hence my statement that they do have 1st class. And Markus stated, without qualifiers, “Air Canada doesn’t have First Class”.

  2. Let’s see:

    Self-built trip on Priceline – for their honeymoon

    Transfer time below MCT.

    Conflicting story of the most ‘controversial’ aspect of the case (why the plane was delayed)

    Silly complaint that they ‘forfeited’ the cost of the first night of lodging in France – when in reality they just traded it for a night in Montreal.

    Wanting the airline to compensate for unrelated costs (train travel).

    This is a big NO.

    1. This is what happens when inflexible, militaristic airline policies meet increasingly inflexible policies from other travel companies which are learning from the airlines how amazingly sheeplike people can get when away from home.
      I would really love to see a riot break out at an airport over some incident like this. It’s going to happen when some sufficiently large number of people are affected by the same bout of high-handedness under the right volatile set of conditions.

      Besides online shaming, it may be the customers’ only recourse.

      1. This is what happens when customers scream that the airlines need to be held accountable for their on time performance (or lack there of) so the DOT starts collecting and publishing on time stats. Guess what, published stats drive behavior so the airlines are going to look to make that stat better… which means no more holding flights for late connecting passengers.

        The law on unintended consequences…

        1. This instance sounds familiar to the cruise lines’ position on shore excursions: book through us and we’ll wait for you, otherwise we sail!

      2. Who would riot at an airport over something like this beyond the couple who’d screwed up their own travel plans by not allowing enough time to transfer? The vast majority of the other passengers were probably just fine.

        1. That’s why I said “sufficiently large number of people.” It’s going to be one of those days when a planeload of passengers gets stranded on the tarmac for hours, or when an incident happens at a busy security checkpoint, perhaps in combination with bad weather, equipment failure or other reason for delay that does not get handled well on the scene.

          Remember that time when, in a crowded terminal on a bad day at Newark, a passenger lifted a gate agent off the ground and dumped him on his head – and everyone applauded, including the jury that subsequently heard the case?

          1. And that was a disgusting abuse. No people did not clap in the gate area. It was on video. And it was horrible to watch. I feel sorry for you for supporting physical violence.

          2. What is the point of the 2nd part of your post? Do you believe that spending money at a business gives you the right to cause physical harm to the employees if you don’t get your way?

          3. You’re sick! I’d love to see you working for a company and people going mad, abusing you and hurting you physically because of that company’s choices you have no power to influence. You may say that they’re paid to act as whipping boys, but I think NOBODY is. They don’t have to suffer the consequences of your frustration, mindlessness or bad planning or whatsoever. They’ re human beings. Keep it in mind.

        2. There were a total of six trying to make the connection, not merely the one couple. Still, I look closely at times when I book, no matter the destination of my hurry or tack of. And — a honeymoon is no big deal, but to celebrate a divorce — not THAT takes careful planning.

        3. So who were the vast majority of passengers you are referring to? People flying to Montreal who don’t face this situation. How does an airline get away with allowing booking with connections that can’t actually be made?

        1. Why is that exactly? Are you suggesting that before booking a flight we should spend several hours studying the floor plan of the a foreign airport to see that we haven’t been tricked into a transfer that’s not possible? Don’t you believe in consumer protections? Was it the fault of people who purchased the GM’s with faulty ignition switches not to have their cars tested?

          1. No, but realize that when going THROUGH or TO other countries, that you DO have to go through customs and immigration would help.
            Air Canada shouldn’t have allowed it, but the OP should have never booked that. They should accept some or all of the responsibility.

        1. This is probably the guy who stamps his feet at the ticket counter and yells, “But I’m the CUSTOMER.”

          1. Saw it yesterday (last time). Painful, ashaming. More for people looking at him than for the colleague, that is an old hand. He stopped abruptly when, after he menaced to call the police (!), the colleague answered “Thanks. You’re sparing me the nuisance to do it myself”. Then, away he went, grunting. Kudos!

  3. If you are counting on making an international flight with only 41 minutes to spare you are asking for disappointment. I do not think that you would get very far with mediation.

    1. I agree…I usually book flights with a 3-hr layover. Also, I will book flights from PHX to LAX or PHX to SFO with at least two flights before my connecting flight out of LAX or SFO departs; therefore, if our first flight is cancelled…we will have two more flights before our connecting flights. A lot of the times, we will arrive the night before in LAX or SFO and stay at an airport hotel to insure that we don’t miss our connecting flight.

      1. I’m a big fan of leaving myself a whole night between flights, if I can. If I’m flying international for a Big Vacation, I fly to my connecting city, book a hotel, and then catch my international flight the next day. Still, I get that some people don’t have enough vacation time/money to do this. But there’s a happy medium between leaving 24 hours (like I usually do) and 41 minutes!

        Aside: As careful as, I am, my plans have been foiled by the airlines. Sometimes, my carefully scheduled 24-hour layovers haven’t even been enough. I’ve been booted from flights due to overbookings and then told the next flight I could be “accommodated” on would be two days later. I had a flight be 16 hours late due to mechanical problems. And let’s not even talk about weather delays.

        1. Well, sure. Especially since international flights tend to depart from enormous USA airports notorious for flight delays and last minute gate or terminal changes – JFK, ORD, MIA spring immediately to mind.

    2. hate to say it, but how did they get to book flights 41 mins apart ?
      What’s the minimum connecting time at YUL ?

  4. “Had he purchased the ticket through Aircanadacom, none of this would have happened, the employee assured him. ” Bullcrap!!! I went to their website and check a few dates. I checked three dates in September and October. You can book the exact same flights as the OP:

    Monday, September 15, 2014 & Monday, October 13, 2014: AC760 (SFO to YUL) arriving at 20:04 and connecting with AC870 (YUL to CDG) which departs at 20:55…that is 51 minutes.
    A few of the dates that I checked, the only flight that was available with two segments was AC780 (SFO to YUL) to AC870 (YUL to CDG) with a 4+ hr connecting time.

    The OP is wrong for booking a special trip like a honeymoon on their own.

    The OP is wrong for booking an international trip without travel insurance.

    Air Canada is wrong for allowing a traveler to book AC760 connecting with AC870 UNLESS they are going to hold the AC870 flight for all of the late passengers from AC760. Over 80% of my flights from SFO have left late. There are weather issues in SFO.

    1. THANK YOU! This was my comment, too. “If you had booked through us, then things would have been different?!” What about the other 4 passengers that missed the flight…surely THEY didn’t all book through OTAs! What a liar.

      The only other thing that I would request of an airline in this case is that they work to find another airline that can get me there sooner than the next day.

    2. minimum connecting time at YUL is obviously wrong. Any decent travel agent would not have booked this & the agent may have ben cheaper as well. Why on earth do people believe the spin, that this site or that site is cheaper.
      Get a human to do it next time.
      BTW – when we fly to USA most years, we always book thru a live agent who laughs when he sees what booking direct with airlines or OTA try to charge.
      We often pay 40% less than anything online on what in Australia are called net fares, which apparently never eve make it to OTA’s sites.

  5. “Had he purchased the ticket through Aircanadacom, none of this would have happened, the employee assured him. ” Bullcrap!!! I went to their website and check a few dates. I checked three dates in September and October. You can book the exact same flights as the OP:

    Monday, September 15, 2014 & Monday, October 13, 2014: AC760 (SFO to YUL) arriving at 20:04 and connecting with AC870 (YUL to CDG) which departs at 20:55…that is 51 minutes.

    A few of the dates that I checked, the only flight that was available with two segments was AC780 (SFO to YUL) to AC870 (YUL to CDG) with a 4+ hr connecting time.

    The OP is wrong for booking a special trip like a honeymoon on their own.

    The OP is wrong for booking an international trip without travel insurance.

    Air Canada is wrong for allowing a traveler to book AC760 connecting with AC870 UNLESS they are going to hold the AC870 flight for all of the late passengers from AC760. Over 80% of my flights from SFO have left late. There are weather issues in SFO.

  6. NO!!!

    I don’t know anything about the Montreal airport but I do know this. Flights close their doors about 15 minutes before take off. A large plane can take 20+ mins to unload so with a 40 min connection, you’ve left yourself 5 min to find and get to your next gate. 5 min if everything goes perfectly. More importantly, if you fail, its 24 hrs in Montreal instead of Paris and you have to repurchase $359 in train tickets.

    Sorry this is a case of poor planning. I don’t see anything for the airline to apologize for.

    1. NO!!! is absolutely correct. I avoid a 40 minute connection for a simple domestic flight. They were flying from the west coast of the US to Europe. It is a case of poor planning.

      1. @stevenscholnick:disqus I completely agree. I try to avoid anything less than an hour unless I really know the airport. I’ll admit to booking a tight connection every once in awhile … Like next summer we have a 45 minute connection in O’Hare which is really tight (like we need to be ready to run tight) but there’s 10 months for UA to make schedule changes (which they will), there’s multiple flights the next day to get us to our destination and its the only routing that lets us travel that night given when we can leave etc. Still thinking I’m going to be stuck in Chi-town that night though

    2. Allow me to be the contrarian. As someone who likes booking tight connections:
      “Flights close their doors about 15 minutes before take off.” well, not always. Occasionally they do, but the usual patterns seems more like 10.

      “A large plane can take 20+ mins to unload” this is why I try to get seated near the front for short connections.

      And don’t forget, that airlines build in slack into their schedules and very often arrive 10 (or more) minutes early. All this means that a 40 minute connection usually gives you more than adequate time to make a domestic change.

      But then I’m someone who would rather miss a plane occasionally and spend a big chunk of time fixing that once in a while rather than spend 2 hours in an airport every time I make a connection. The net amount of time I waste is probably the same as you guys who are more careful, it’s just mine is wasted in big chunks rather than dribbled away slowly.

      1. @disqus_8tHZNdenjd:disqus As noted below, I will also occasionally schedule the tight connection, when I know the airport and the result of failure is low. I’m not making this booking, ever, since miss connection means a 24 hour delay.

      2. As long as you are doing it consciously, that is your choice. It really depends on the reason you are traveling, and the consequences of not making your scheduled arrival.

      1. Be able to do something and it being the smart choice are two separate things…. This was not a smart choice given the consequences of failure.

        1. Of course it wasn’t a “smart choice.”

          And it’s not surprising that inexperienced travelers aren’t attuned to the risks and consequences.

          I assume Air Canada is attuned to the risks and consequences… and they choose to advertise and sell this anyway, without any warnings. And their own employee apparently thinks it is an unreasonable connection time and blames Priceline, seemingly unaware that this is Air Canada’s policy, not Priceline’s.

  7. There are always going to be ‘misinformed’ and ‘ignorant’ travelers like the OP who believes that their flight will never be late; the airlines will hold their connecting flights; if they leave late, they will make up the time in flight; there are no weather delays; there are no mechanical delays; etc. They believe that they are going to make it because it is listed on the airline’s website…why list it if it is not possible? Most of the time, they are not seasoned travelers who know that less than an hour for an international connecting flight is too short.

    The bottom line is that airlines should not allow flights listed on their websites with short connection times (i.e. less than 90 minutes for domestic and less than 3 hours for international) UNLESS they are going to hold flights (which they won’t because it will affect other connecting flights at the next airport; ruin their on-time stats; etc.). As long as airlines continue to list short-connecting flights on their websites, we will continue to read articles like today.

    Yes..the OP is guilty of poor planning such as not using a brick & mortar travel agent; not buying travel insurance; selecting non-refundable fares without transferring the risk to travel insurance; etc. Also, it seems that the OP is not knowledgeable (or did research) about international travel by selecting flights with less than an hour connecting time.

    This OP could be the ‘poster boy’ for how not to plan your honeymoon by yourself BUT Air Canada is guilty of allowing flights with short connection times to be purchased (Yes…you can purchase the same flights on their website if you don’t read my other comments).

    1. Also – went to Italy with a tour group last fall and their travel agent left us under an hour to make a transfer at Paris’ (enormous) Charles du Gaulle! YES we ran like outlaws and were lucky to make it – but next time I book my own travel, even if I get a discount for using a tour company.

        1. Yup. However, it was a deal where the airport was located pretty far from where we were meeting the tour, so we let that dictate – we’d have had to make our own transfer arrangements and were nervous about doing that. However, in retrospect it certainly would have been the better option.

    2. not buying travel insurance

      What provision of which travel insurance policy would have helped the OP?

      I’m looking at Travel Guard’s Gold Plan for example.

      Missed Connection coverage only kicks in when a connecting flight is delayed over 3 hours.

      Trip Delay coverage only kicks in for delays of “five (5) hours or more due to the events listed under Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption”.

      The OP may have been delayed for more than 5 hours overall, but which listed event (“Named Peril”) would apply?

  8. If I have to change planes to catch an international connection I book an itinerary with a nice cushion. Better to sit around a layover airport for 3 hours than to miss the flight out of the US.

    Good lesson learned for the LW, here.

    1. I’m the opposite. I hate sitting around airports so I tend to book pretty tight connections. But every so often, I miss my flight and am delayed arriving at my final destination. I know that may happen, so I never book non-refundable events the day after I arrive.

      Speaking of which, I have an international flight next month with a connection time of 51 minutes in Newark. Fingers crossed. That said, even I would balk at 41 minutes for an international flight in a domestic airport. Add in the time necessary to clear customs and that was just a rookie mistake.

      The amount of money they lost was just a tuition at the school of life lessons. Learn from it and move on.

  9. Actually, they should have looked at flightstats.com to see that their outbound flight was on-time only 70% of the time:


    On that type of connection,. that’s a significant risk. As for the weather, well…

    The flight was scheduled to depart at 11:40AM. The conditions were partly cloudy, ~64F, NNE winds under 10 knots. Shouldn’t have weather delays under those circumstances.


    However, there were other reasons why there could have been delays at SFO — runway maintenance. I’ll note that it explicitly says: “During good weather, minor delays may occur during peak periods of traffic demand, such as 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.”


  10. The OP definitely erred by booking a close connection on Priceline, but the primary fault here is certainly Air Canada’s. Why? Because the appearance of several other people with the same missed connection problem after the flight meant that Air Canada lied about the change in schedule. The airline needs to pay for the lost train tickets, baggage and hotel stay, and then rebill Mr HIgh-n-Mighty for the whole mess, and for whatever messes might have been involved for those other six passengers. I’m sure he can afford it.

    1. What if the passenger they were holding the plane for was a captain who was on his way to pilot an international flight, and was delayed by another flight, and if the captain didn’t make it to YUL, they would have had to cancel a large international flight with 250 passengers? Or the flight was to have an Air Marshal, and they were delayed for any number of reasons? I do think it’s wrong to hold a plane for a late passenger, but I also think airlines often have valid operational reasons to hold flight, many of which they don’t publicly disclose.

      1. True – and just because these 6 people did not make the flight, does NOT mean everyone else on the flight didn’t get there on time.

  11. Having recently been through YUL, it surprises me that AC would allow booking of this connection. Coming from the US, you have to go through Canada customs. This is located at the opposite end of the airport from where flights from the US arrive. While Canada has an extremely efficient and quick customs clearance for passengers connecting onward to points outside of Canada (beats the US system), it takes time. My flight was on time, there were no delays, and it still took me 45 minutes to get from my inbound US plane to my outbound European plane (both AC operated flights).

    1. @MarkKelling:disqus … Wow I didn’t even think about the customs angle … That makes this really tight connection (I wouldn’t do it in the US) an impossibly tight connection. I wonder how often people make it?

      1. That was the first thing I thought of – how the heck did this couple think they were going to clear Customs so quickly? I’ve haven’t flown out of Canada for a long time, but I spent a lot of time at my departing airport *and* once again in Canada clearing security. I was told then to build in 2 hours’ layover in Canada for that purpose. Second thing I thought of was that things change and my knowledge may be very much outdated.

        1. I just flew in and out of Canada (Toronto) and customs was incredibly long… Most flights were delayed on the way out due to lines.

        2. It is my guess that this couple did not think about clearing Canadian customs because they are probably not seasoned travelers with international travel experience.

          1. Yup. It isn’t incredibly obvious to folks without much travel experience they’ll have to clear customs during a layover if their final destination isn’t the layover country. We had to clear into the EU going through Paris, even though our final destination was Rome – and even the booking agent for a huge US tour company wasn’t aware of this and booked us in with a tight connection.

            No way I allow someone else to book my travel ever again, personally.

          2. Both Paris and Rome are in the EU. You always have to clear customs at your first point of entry into any country or region.

            Whoever booked you a tight connection and claimed to not know that shouldn’t be a travel agent.

          3. Long story short, I’ve been to Australia a couple times, Africa, South America, the UK – but am not super-familiar with European travel, particularly the Schengen area rules.

            I asked them about it repeatedly after finding the info online – which wasn’t to my eyes 100% clear – and was specifically told no customs and that the “gates were close together” (they weren’t – shuttle bus rides & terminal sprints were required, including stairs. No way we’d have made our connections without some help from Air France employees who took pity and let us cut the lines.)

            Really not sure what incentive the company had to do something like this, unless it was to shunt us onto flights that cost them less. As I mentioned – never again, with this particular company, anyway.

    2. Are you sure they had to clear customs? I think, since they were connecting to a flight out of Canada, they would not have had to clear. If they had had to clear customs, they wouldn’t have even been close to making their flight, so it doesn’t really make sense to think they did.

        1. I looked at that page. It literally says nothing about whether US citizens just passing through Canada have to go through customs. At least not in any comprehensible way. That said, I totally accept the possibility the you do, I just can’t find anything that clearly says so.

          1. Did you miss

            If your flight originated in the United States and you need to take a connecting flight to an international destination, there are two possibilities:

            If your airline offers the option of automatically transferring your luggage, you must go to the special international connections customs counter.

            If your airline does not offer the option of automatically transferring your luggage, you must pick it up yourself from the carousel, then follow the normal procedures for international arrivals, then for international departures.

            Passengers in transit: Attention! Check whether you need a transit visa.

            Citizens of certain countries and territories need a visa to enter Canada. If you are among them, you will need a transit visa to travel through Canada without stopping or visiting. This applies even if you are in Canada for less than 48 hours.

            You may not need a transit visa if you are travelling to or from the United States. The Transit Without Visa program (TWOV) and the China Transit Program (CTP) allow certain foreign nationals to transit through Canada on their way to and from the United States without a Canadian transit visa, if they meet certain requirements.

            You have to clear customs either way… In some cases you may have to clear customs and recheck your bag.

          2. No, I didn’t. I don’t think going to the “special international customs counter” means going through customs. That sounds like it means NOT going through customs, actually. The gist of this appears to be that if you fly though on a major airlines, you can skip customs and just stop off at this counter.

          3. Yes, it does mean you go through customs.

            If you are flying Air Canada, your luggage is automatically transferred to your outbound international flight. Unless customs gets curious and wants to see what you are carrying. Other airlines don’t have the check through option and require you to collect your luggage and go through regular customs inspection. If you only have carry on luggage, you can go through the special line no matter what airline you are on.

            The “special” customs process requires you to fill out the same paperwork as if you were staying in Canada. You go through a line that is just for passengers connecting to international flights without checked luggage. But it is the same question and answer process as regular customs. And the lines can be long and slow moving depending on the mood and efficiency of the customs agents and on how many other US flights arrived close to the same time yours did.

            On a good day, the process takes 15 minutes in line. On a bad day, easily 30 – 45 minutes.

            This is from personal experience at both the Toronto and Montreal airports when arriving from a US flight on AC and connecting to a flight on AC to Europe.

          4. Okay. I don’t see how they were even close to making their flight then. A 41 minute connection cut by 20-25 minutes, plus going through customs? How could that possibly be done in 16 minutes (or even 41 for that matter)? There’s something missing from this story. OP isn’t telling the whole truth.

          5. The connecting time the OP gave were that for that travel day. AC gives longer connecting times on other days. Sadly, legal vs reasonable aren’t the same.

          6. Yep, even if they were Canadian citizens which gives expedited customs clearance, I doubt it was possible.

  12. I voted no based on the fact that you don’t leave less than an hour for an international flight transfer. You’re going from the U.S. to Canada alone… that can cause issues – let alone transferring to Paris.

    This should be a lesson learned for them on taking proper precautions when making long, expensive, important flights.

  13. AC should give them 2 free vouchers for travel in Canada/US where AC flies. This couple was very culpable in the disaster as no experienced traveler would ever book a 41 minute connection on a domestic flight no less an international one and especially knowing those flights are scarce and a disruption to plans would have far reaching economic penalties. I’ll book a 41 minute connection when traveling on highly frequent routes like Wash DC/NY or Boston or Newark/Boston, LA/SF, etc. because I know if I miss one flight there are a dozen more.

    1. Wait a minute… you admit that the couple was at fault for booking such a crazy connection for such an important trip, but then at the beginning you say thy should issue two free vouchers? Why? I might toss them a bone of $100 each for the flight being delayed, but not a “anywhere we go” pair of tix.

    2. Air Canada paid for their hotel, they’ve done enough. If you want the airlines to pay all sorts of costs for these things, airfares will go way up. I don’t want a “stupid tax” on my tickets, thank you very much.

  14. I would’ve admonished them for using Priceline, too.
    But then, I’m a snarky jerk.

    Anyway…no, I don’t think they deserve anything else. Would you ask the airline to compensate a passenger who had pre-paid a hotel night? Or Di$ney world tickets? Probably not, so…no here, too.

  15. One thing that has to be done is to get the airlines to raise the amount of time for a legal connection. For example, Delta Airlines has Atlanta connections listed on it’s website that are only 30 or 35 minutes. Anyone who has flown through Atlanta is aware that making a connection in that short window of time can be problematic even if the inbound flight arrives on time should a terminal change be required (it usually is). As another writer pointed out, the door at the gate is sometimes closed 10 to 15 minutes prior to scheduled departure time. That leaves only about 15 or 20 minutes to get off your first flight, make your way to the center of the terminal, ride a long escalator to the subway station. Wait for the train and then ride it to the terminal that your second flight leaves from, go up the very long escalator and walk to your new gate. If your flight arrives a few minutes late, you’ve got a big problem. There is no way to get on your next flight unless it also is delayed. Thirty minute legal connections may have been fine in the 1960’s but the flying experience has changed greatly since then.

    1. 30 minutes is a legal connection?! How can we lobby to get this changed? No way I would book that under any circumstances, unless I wasn’t checking bags and didn’t mind a delay.

      1. Legal connections vary from airport to airport, carrier to carrier and domestic to international or international to domestic. It isn’t the same across the board.

  16. Plenty of blame to go around here:

    – AC should not have held the plane, if that’s what happened.

    – The couple should not have booked their honeymoon with such a tight connection. The Minimum Connecting Time is meant for people who either have flexible plans or need the next flight out. It’s not meant for situations like this with plenty of advance notice and inflexible plans. There are plenty of reasons their flight to Montreal could have been late; if such a short delay causes you to miss your flight for your honeymoon, you booked it wrong. For leisure travel, I always allow an entire flight between my home airport and the hub. And yes, this means anywhere from a 1-4 hour layover. Better than missing my once-a-day flight across the ocean.

    – Trip insurance. A policy that covers “any Common Carrier Delay” would have paid for the train tickets and overnight expenses.

    – Priceline? It’s difficult to know if they booked this with the “Normal Search Engine” side of Priceline, or the “Name your own price” side. NYOP is an INSANE idea for such an important, time-inflexible trip. NYOP can get you some truly bonkers and/or inconvenient itineraries. The Normal Search Engine side is just like any other Online Travel Agent though… an acceptable plan if you know what you are doing, a bad idea if you don’t.

    – AC should be more knowledgeable about the MCT; AirCanada.com totally will allow this flight, even if it’s not very smart.

    – Don’t even bother complaining about how expensive the stuff you missed was. Common carriers have NEVER (we are talking centuries here) been responsible for you missing whatever it is you planned to do once you arrived.

    1. The funny part to me is that they would definitely have wanted the plane held for them, but it’s a travesty the plane was held for somebody else.

  17. Most rail passes are refundable, only if they haven’t been used at all or activated, and a 15% penalty applies (which means you will be refunded 85% of the value of the original rail pass) If tickets were purchased (instead of passes) an easy answer is adding Rail Europe’s Rail Protection Insurance to your booking since it entitles you to one exchange for each of your covered products, with no fee or penalty, regardless of the rail carriers’ policy.

    1. I agree with you scot… However, had they purchased their ground and hotel via a travel agent, they may have had an advocate in their corner. Many times, I have had to contact hotels when an international traveler is delayed due to no fault of their own. Most hotels are understanding and adjust the bookings with no penalty.

    2. I don’t believe they purchased a rail pass. They bought tickets for a specific train at a specific time. And, unfortunately, most European train systems have adopted the US airline’s approach to tickets — the cheap ones are non refundable, non transferable. Meaning: you miss it you lose it.

      Yes, the insurance is good with provisions such as allowing 2 years to use your trip funds for a different trip, but not sure it would have covered this because it requires the tickets to be purchased from Rail Europe and the request for change must be made at least 3 days BEFORE the scheduled trip.

    3. Something is not right. they lost the first night of hotel AND a non-refundable prepurchased train ticket. But, a first night implies subsequent nights, and a lost train ticket implies they missed using it due to arriving one day late. What kind of trip involves overlapping a hotel stay in Paris for a honeymoon and a pre-purchased train ticket to leave that day or the next day? I don’t understand this.

        1. They had train tickets, which leads me to believe that Paris wasn’t their honeymoon destination. They may have had the first night set up for Paris and then on to another location the following day. Metro tickets aren’t that expensive so they were certainly heading somewhere out of the Paris area.

      1. Didn’t say they were staying in Paris, just flying into Paris and then staying “in France” which could have been anywhere in the country. The flight they should have been on would have arrived in Paris before noon. Plenty of time to catch a train to a romantic village for the honeymoon to start.

        1. So, you think they planned a day with a transcontinental plus transoceanic flight, with a connection in another country, arrival in Paris, and immediate transfer to a train to a hotel elsewhere in France? Multiple transfers and one very long travel day for the beginning of a honeymoon? All prebought with no allowances for any variance from the schedule? My eyes glaze over at the appalling overconfidence vs ignorance.

          It has been said that the way to avoid mistakes is to have experience, and the way to have experience is to make mistakes. I bet they won’t try anything like this again. (Trip planning, not marriage)

          1. Hey, I am not saying the plan was sensible. I’m just going by what is stated in the article. 🙂

            Personally, I would head straight for a hotel as soon as I got off the plane in Paris simply because I don’t sleep on a plane. Never have, probably never will. There is just too much happening on the plane to be able to sleep. But then I know people who pass out the second they sit down in the seat and don’t wake until the plane lands. Maybe this couple is that type and they felt they would not need the time in Paris before moving onward.

  18. Regrettably even EU261 won’t help in this case. This offers up to 600 Euros(around $800) on delayed long haul flights but applies only to EU airlines flying into Europe, and to all airlines, including Air Canada for departures out of any EU airport. Any US or Canadian airline can ignore the rule on flights to Europe, one reason possibly to consider an EU based airline for transatlantic flights when you are protected both ways.

    1. One interesting option is that sometimes I see codeshare flights to Europe but the “bare metal” or carrier is United.

      So even if I bought the ticket on Lufthansa, I’d still be flying on an old United plane with no free liquor in economy class. 🙁

      HOWEVER… I wonder if because I would book on Lufthansa if I would get the same treatment as I was on a lufthansa flight. That’s one of the (many) benefits of codeshares that helps the consumer.

      1. Code shares catch a lot of travellers, the rules are quite specific, it depends on the carrier operating the flights not the carrier selling the tickets. If you fly LH you are protected both ways but if the actual carrier is good old (more old than good these days) UA, you are only protected on the flights back to the US

  19. I can only guess that these 2 folks are inexperienced travelers. Forty-one minutes for transfer is crazy.
    Even when Lufthansa tells me that one hour is a legal transfer time in Frankfurt, I always select a later flight that gives me more of a layover. Boring? Sometimes, but I have found that the safety cushion alleviates my stress level.

  20. Why, oh why would anybody be so cheap as to invest in a clearly important and expensive trip but not protect it with insurance? A sob story second day in a row.

  21. I was wondering about the habit of many airlines in the USA to pad their flight times and fuel to make up for stuff like this. Delays happen and a first class caste passenger isn’t the only cause of them. In the very least, a plane can leave on time and be held up on the tarmac waiting for takeoff clearance.

    So just as passengers should pad their connection times a little, the smart airlines should pad their flight times as well to help people make their connections.

    However… the main reason for airlines to want to keep those published scheduled times as short as possible is that many search engines allow you to search for fastest flight. I personally am more than happy to place a premium on quality/price ahead of a single hour or two of flight time but I guess some like to think they are going to save a half hour and pay more for such a flight.

  22. I’m chuckling about the 25 percent “discount”. That’s off of the BASE fare which usually is about half of the total fare. So this translates to about a 15 percent discount at best.

    However, getting put up in a hotel and meal vouchers was nice of them. Not sure an American company would have done that.

    I’m wondering if (reminds me of A Few Good Men) that flight out to Paris was the last one. There wasn’t another one leaving on another carrier that day? 🙂 Airlines hate to do it, but they could have maybe gotten them on a different flight. Sure, it would have cost but they trade these problems all the time between each other…

  23. The Murphys have hopefully learned an important life’s lesson in this. That’s a pretty major trip to book things so closely. Although I regret that they had some bad effects on their honeymoon, they have no one to blame but themselves.

    If Air Canada did happen to reimburse them, I would be very very disappointed in Air Canada for using their shareholder’s money in such a poor fashion. There is a the responsibility of the passenger ot allow for things – and whether it was a first class (okay Businessfirst) passenger or a maintenance issue, it doesn’t really matter a lot. A connection time like this is not realistic at all. I don’t blame Air Canada for this in any way.

    Although I don’t usually fall on the side of the “use a professional travel agent” mantra, perhaps these people should do that.

    1. I agree that the OP is at fault. How about Air Canada for having these flights on their website. You and I and most of the readers of this blog knows that 51 minutes is too short to catch a connecting International flight after arriving from an international flight. If we know it…don’t you think that Air Canada knows it?

      To me, Air Canada is like a tobacco company who sends free cigarettes to a person that is trying to quit smoking or a beer company who sends free beer to a person that is trying to quit drinking. As long as you have Air Canada listing these flights as connecting flights, there are going to be people like the OP.

      1. Your point about it being on the Air Canada site, although valid, I do not think it applies in this case. The Murphys did not use Air Canada’s website to book these flights. Had they used Air Canada’s site, that’s another story.

        1. The Air Canada ‘red coat’ person told them that this won’t happen if they booked directly on Air Canada website which I proved as an outright lie since I went to their website today and you can book the exact same flights on the AC website like the OP.

          This isn’t the case of Priceline putting together two separate flightsback to back flights as a connecting…this is a flight combination that you can select from the Air Canada website…this is an offering that AC offers to the public directly from its website or indirectly through other online booking sites.

          Air Canada is like a car dealer that advertise a car at a super low price but it isn’t on the lot. AC is adverting a flight that you have little or no chance of making on even if there are no delays…just going through customs will probably cause you to miss the flight.

          The OP is at fault but Air Canada has some fault by having this flight combination on its website as well as on other booking sites.

          1. Yes, but that’s “After the fact” and a comment by some staff which is irrelevant since the OP already booked on Priceline. I agree that Air Canada should not have their website this way but their site did not sell to the OP, I think we all agree these tickets should not have been sold/bought and although now I am sure Chris has 1,000 people complaining because this happens every day, the point is that as far as the Murphys are concerned:
            -They bought the ticket on a self serve website and did not get professional help.
            -Priceline sold the tickets to them.

            There needs to be some shared responsibility here.

            This should not be a vendetta against Air Canada – but an illustration of how important it is to get help and advice on important trips, especially if you obviously aren’t knowledgeable about going through other countries.

            I have had cancelled/delays in flights too, and not only by Air Canada. In these cases, it has cost me time and money – even though the airlines did what they are supposed to do.

            Had I made a “mistake” such as booking an unrealistic connect time, I would expect to take some responsibility for that too.

            Yes, Air Canada should fix their website. But should they pay for the Murphys’ train ticket? NO. They should have booked smarter. They should have used a credit card that had travel insurance, or bought travel insurance.
            You can’t expect the airlines to babysit you..

          2. While I am not a fan of OTA’s, why should Priceline share responsibility? They had AC’s schedule, not something they made up to sell. UA is back to flying nonstop from SFO to CDG. Why didn’t the couple fly UA? Cost? Anytime you connect, you risk a delay, but then, if you are a DIY’er, you bear the responsibility of assessing all risks.

          3. I don’t know. Air Canada put them up in a hotel, which pretty much sums up the airline responsibility as far as I’m concerned. There are some things to fix, such as not allowing such tight connections, but the OP should bear the burden of their mistake, which it seems they will have to. I guess I am agreeing with you.

          4. AC has these tight connections on certain days. It is their schedule not Priceline’s doing. There are legal connection times and reasonable connection times and sadly the two aren’t always the same.

          5. I guess I am a more experienced traveler but I don’t accept these tight connection times no matter what an airline says. I also don’t book train trips without allowing for some buffer time…

          6. True – and if you were a Canadian businessman travelling with an expedited passport and no luggage, would not have been a problem. 🙂

  24. 41 minutes for an international connection is not “plenty of time.” It’s a ridiculously small amount of time.

    I’ve missed connections where I left myself anywhere from 2-4 hours of time because of mechanical problems, weather, or in a memorable case in 1999, flying out of Calgary after the Pan American games, and a South American football team got to the over-crowded airport late, so Air Canada held a plane full of ORD-bound passengers for them…for 2 hours.

    41 minutes is barely enough time for a domestic flight. Don’t bother mediating – this was poor planning.

  25. “Air Canada unwittingly revealed the value of a passenger sitting in the front of the plane.”

    Others have pointed out that the front of the plane passenger may have had special importance to the airline for many possible reasons.

    But this is the same airline that held a plane I was connecting to for 90 minutes due to the delay in the US customs pre clear area at the Toronto airport so 20 economy class passengers from the inbound CDG flight could make the connection. Those 20 pax in the cheap seats were apparently important enough to inconvenience the 12 in 1st on that plane.

  26. According to commenters on an earlier article, this story is completely impossible. Those commenters, who claimed to be insiders in the airline industry, say that airlines never hold planes for passengers anymore. Soooo, who is full of it. This letter writer or the commenters?

      1. Right. If you ask me, the commenters who said they never hold planes are full of it. I said the same thing you did. They told me I was wrong. Over and over again on this message board. Apparently, I’ve never had a plane held for me. I could have sworn that I had. smh

        1. Flying a lot (millions of miles in my lifetime), I have had a plane held for me exactly one time. It was the AC flight I mentioned in another posting.

          Holding flights is rare. It is even more rare if it is only 1 or 2 impacted passengers. Be happy when it happens when you need it.

          1. I just flew out of Toronto on Air Canada, where they held many, many flights as passengers were stuck in the US customs lines. They held our flight for about 20 minutes for four passengers (including us.) Almost everyone in line was having their flight number called to see how many passengers were remaining… So it is definitely still done.

            ETA- Not sure if there was a special circumstance causing the delays that day, but it was certainly a mess.

          2. The “special circumstances” are that the US government is too cheap to properly staff any customs checkpoint at any airport. Because of this, I refuse to book any flights returning to the US with connections of less than 4 hours at the airport where I will go through customs.

          3. Yes it was.

            Passengers flying into the US from Canada clear US customs in Canada at Canadian airports then you go into a secured area of the terminal with no access to the non US cleared area. This means when you get to your destination in the US you just walk off the plane like you were on a domestic US flight.

            The US customs area in Toronto has about 50 lanes. I have never seen more than 4 occupied by customs and immigration officers. Montreal is nearly as bad. Can’t say for any other Canadian airport because I have not been through any others in recent history.

            This process is also used for a few other foreign airports. Dublin is the top of my list. Several Caribbean countries also have the pre clear set up.

          4. True, but they were travelling from the US, through Canada, and on to Paris. Little different.

          5. My original response was to SnowWheet and the comment about AC holding multiple flights destined to the US due to delays in the US Customs processing area on a recent trip.

  27. As many have said already, 41 minutes to make an international connecting flight is nowhere near sufficient time. Hopefully, the OP has learned his lesson here. And why, oh why, would you ever book your honeymoon via Priceline – especially if you’re an inexperienced traveler (as I suspect this couple was). This is a situation where you would want to use a professional travel agent who can advise you and is there to help you should anything go wrong. There’s nothing to mediate here. Shame on AC for offering such a ridiculous connection. But the responsibility falls squarely with the OP for booking it.

  28. Quite difficult to sympathize with this guy … if you don’t have any travel experience, not to mention common sense, you need a good travel agent, not Priceline.

  29. I think they forfeit the first night’s stay in Paris…after all, they were put up in Montreal at no charge and also received meal vouchers. I do think that the amount of extra charge for rail tix should be recompensable, The 25% discount might be greater than that amount, but how many people go to Paris more than once in a year? The discount might be worthless.

  30. I’ve taken a dozen or so Air Canada flights in the last few years and NONE have been on time. I’ve had delays from half an hour to six or seven hours to overnight plus eight more hours of surprise delays the next morning. Every time I have been treated disrespectfully and information has been withheld from all travelers until the absolute last second. Having been through that I would never, ever book an itinerary like this couple did.

    HOWEVER, I have a major problem with Air Canada staff hassling the couple about their chosen itinerary when the Air Canada website says that forty minutes is sufficient for an international to international connection in Montreal. If you can’t rely on Air Canada’s own website for information about booking an Air Canada itinerary, where should a traveler look?

    (Also, reading the Air Canada twitter feed- make sure to view both tweets and replies- is one of the most amusing ways to waste fifteen minutes of your life.)

      1. There aren’t a lot of options in Canada. Yes, there are some, and I use other airlines when possible (I just flew Westjet yesterday!), but often an itinerary with segments on Air Canada is the only reasonable option.

    1. I don’t think they are that bad when compared to other airline I have the choice to fly. I have flown them 4 times to Europe from the US and, while not every flight was flawless and some were delayed by a few minutes, the flight experience has been enjoyable. My last flight back from Europe was on the Rouge budget version of AC and was one of the best flights I have been on for any airline in recent history.

      But then maybe my other non Air Canada travel experiences are just really really bad. 🙂

  31. I was recently researching international flights from SFO to Paris on a European destinations website. The connection time was just under 2 hours and it was literally flashing “Connection time less than 2 hours” over and over until you acknowledged the notice (that stated not to choose this flight unless you were absolutely comfortable with the potential consequences).

    You would have to be crazy to choose a flight with a 41 minute connection time. Think about it, would you get to the airport just 41 minutes prior to any flight? I say, No, most people would not. I think they were more than fairly compensated.

  32. 41 minutes is an awfully short connecting time, especially for an international flight. I’ve made two trips to Europe on Air Canada, once each via Montreal and Toronto, and a 90 minute layover was barely sufficient – even booking directly through their website. Reluctantly I voted no, because it sounds like poor planning on the part of the couple; which considering they just planned a wedding, I don’t know why you’d skimp on the details for the honeymoon!

  33. If it is 25% off the total cost of a flight, it might be worth it but it probably is 25% of the base fare cost not counting all the fees they lump in.

  34. 51 minutes connecting time at YUL ?
    & no airline holds flights for anyone anymore that’s just pure B/S, made up to try& enhance their story, BUT if only 1 seat left on a aircraft & 2 booked, then the one paying the higher fare, would get the seat, that’s only fair (this is the USA we’re talking about)

  35. big question is who “created” such an insanely short but legal minimum connecting time at YUL & hay would any airline stick to it anyway ?

    1. Air Canada created this short connection. It is easily booked even now directly on their web site. Anyone who would actually book it is not paying attention to what they are doing.

  36. You need to advocate for this one, I don’t think they should be compensated for the hotel room loss (they received overnight lodging and meal vouchers). 25% just sounds too low.

    Ive made international connections with 40-45 minutes, it depends on the airport and the connecting gates. I wouldnt advise it for anyone who isnt very very familiar with the route, and the nuances of a particular airport.

  37. It seems to me that when I pay for a ticket from one place to another, I should have a reasonable expectation that what I pay for is what will happen, and if the airline has an issue that prevents me from getting what I paid for, I should have a reasonable expectation that they’ll do whatever they can to get as close as possible. Unless Priceline bought two separate tickets in an attempt to override Air Canada’s layover time policies, Air Canada both issued the tickets and had a delayed flight. If six other people had the same problem as the LW, that means that Air Canada issued six tickets to other customers with the same connection.
    Air Canada was willing to take these people’s money and issue tickets, so they ought to take more responsibility for making it right when their flights don’t depart on time. I know that they have no LEGAL obligation to do so, with the possible exception of EU 261, but they should anyway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: