Best-selling author Dan Gardner found himself embroiled in a knotty plot when Air Canada bumped him and his son from a flight without any explanation, ruining what he called the “trip of a lifetime”.
Gardner took to Twitter to air his frustration with the airline to thousands of his followers.
The New York Times bestselling author was booked to fly from Ottawa’s Macdonald–Cartier International Airport (YOW) to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) with his son on June 16, 2023.
Gardner told local media Vancouver CityNews that they made it to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport (YTO), the connecting leg of the flight.
The father and son were already lined up for boarding, but when the gate agent scanned their boarding passes, they were told to go to customer service.
“Basically, we were never given an explanation for what happened, but we were bumped,” Gardner said.
According to Gardner, the pair ended up sleeping on the floor of Toronto Airport and ultimately went back to Ottawa via VIA Rail Canada. He said that they were never given a proper explanation, and were just met with “endless Air Canada employees looking sympathetic and shrugging”.
Gardner shared that he had filed a formal complaint with the airline, and through the automated reply system, was told it could take up to 45 days for an Air Canada representative to get back to him.
In his Tweet, Gardner said he was meant to go to London to do a TV show with English writer and comedian John Cleese.
Gardner ended his Twitter tirade by telling the Canadian flag carrier, “You didn’t screw over me and my son, Air Canada. You screwed over John bloody Cleese.”
Can airlines really bump passengers from flights?
According to the US Department of Transportation (DOT), airlines may occasionally bump passengers when there are more passengers scheduled to fly on an airplane than available seats.
Airlines oversell their scheduled flights to a certain extent in order to compensate for ‘no-shows’. Most of the time, airlines correctly predict the ‘no shows’ and everything goes smoothly. Sometimes, though, passengers are bumped as a result of oversales practices.
Bumping passengers from flights, the DOT said, is not an illegal practice.