Help! I believe that an Air Canada agent damaged my visa

Douglas Greenfield wasn’t expecting to be grounded when he departed for his vacation – let alone that a gate agent would cause it to happen. Yet he found himself prevented from boarding his Air Canada flight because of a damaged visa. He would like us to help him seek reimbursement from Air Canada for the cost of his trip.

Greenfield’s case is a warning to travelers that they need to ensure that their travel documents are in good order before leaving home – and if they see travel company agents mishandle those documents, they need to immediately put a stop to it. Had Greenfield done so, he would have been able to enjoy his vacation.

Greenfield and his wife purchased tickets on Air Canada for a vacation in Brazil, during which they planned to see their two-year-old granddaughter. Greenfield’s wife departed weeks earlier as he had only one week’s vacation. Greenfield had a ten-year multiple entry visa for Brazil that he used since 2010 with no problems until his recent experience with Air Canada.

When he arrived at the Air Canada counter at Boston’s Logan Airport, the ticketing agent took his passport, opened it to the visa page and tried to run it through the scanner. She asked Greenfield if he was Brazilian and if he had a green card. Greenfield replied that she was holding his U.S. passport and attempting to scan his visa.

The agent immediately got hold of a supervisor, who processed Greenfield’s passport and checked his status. The supervisor said “everything looked fine,” but could not scan Greenfield’s visa. He told Greenfield that the visa was damaged.

Says Greenfield,

One corner of the bar code was torn off making it so the scanner could not read the code. I didn’t see this damage when I inspected my passport prior to going to the airport nor was it brought to my attention when I last returned from Brazil in April, 2016. I suspect that the attendant damaged it because of her continuous scanning of the visa, thinking it was a passport barcode, until I asked her to stop and brought this to her attention.

Greenfield replied that the agent had tried to scan the visa several times and suggested that she had damaged it. The agent denied damaging the visa, and after several minutes of debate, the supervisor refused to give Greenfield a boarding pass.

As Greenfield could not board his flight, he was forced to go home and give up his vacation as he could not get a replacement visa. He called Air Canada several times seeking a refund for his airfare and asking to speak to a supervisor, but Air Canada refused both requests.

Air Canada offered Greenfield a 25-percent discount off his next airfare, but Greenfield isn’t happy with this solution:

I’ve lost my vacation with my wife who gets back today, a week later, and I am still out $1,500. …
I would like at the very least a 100 percent refund on my ticket and better yet my wife’s as well, since we did not get to spend our vacation together, and I missed out on seeing my two-year-old granddaughter for another year.

Greenfield has asked our advocacy team for assistance with his case, but we’re uncertain that we should pursue it.

Unfortunately for Greenfield, all airlines require that travel documents be available and in good condition and make clear in their contracts of carriage and international tariffs that this is the responsibility of the passengers. Air Canada is no exception:

Each passenger desiring transportation across any international boundary will be responsible for obtaining all necessary travel documents and for complying with all government travel requirements. The passenger must present all exit, entry and other documents required by the laws, and unless applicable laws provide otherwise, shall indemnify the carrier for any loss, damage, or expense suffered or incurred by such carrier by reason of such passenger’s failure to do so. Carrier is not liable to the passenger for loss or expense due to the passenger’s failure to comply with this provision. Carrier reserves the right to refuse carriage to any passenger who has not complied with applicable laws, regulations, orders, demands or requirements or whose documents are not complete.

Another problem with Greenfield’s case is that, notwithstanding Air Canada’s disclaimer of liability for not having a usable visa, he can’t prove that the Air Canada ticketing agent who tried to scan his visa was responsible for damaging it. And even if he could prove it, he would not be entitled to compensation for his wife’s airfare.

Our advocate suggested that Greenfield write polite letters to Air Canada’s executives using the contact information on our website, allowing each a week to respond before escalating his complaint to the next higher-ranking executive in the corporate chain of command. We also invited Greenfield to post in our forums about his case, although he hasn’t done so as of this writing.

We’re asking our readers:

Should our advocates try to help Douglas Greenfield get refunds for his and his wife's airfares from Air Canada?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Underwritten by

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

%d bloggers like this:
This free newsletter will save you from scams.