Names and File/Booking numbers have been changed
On 18-Jan 2006, I arranged to purchase 2 round-trip airline tickets from Toronto to Las Vegas via phone through Ms. Travel Agent at The Wholesale Travel Group for my mother and sister. Payment was made immediately via MasterCard.
A "Statement of Account" was received from The Wholesale Travel Group dated 25-Jan 2006, indicating the purchase of two round-trip tickets, and indicating the names of the two travelers The price breakdown was shown to be 528.96 per passenger, plus 20.00 Service Charge and 2.80 GST, for a total of 1100.72. It was noted on this statement that the balance had been paid in full. Also included in this statement was Booking # XXXXXX, as well as The Wholesale Travel Group's File Number 999999999.
On 21-Feb 2006, 5 days prior to the scheduled departure, I left a voicemail message for Ms. Travel Agent at The Wholesale Travel Group stating that no electronic itinerary had been received, and requesting that said document(s) be sent via e-mail as soon as possible. Both passengers are inexperienced travelers; therefore I wanted to ensure that all preparations were complete so as to avoid any unnecessary obstacles. Both passengers were nervous about traveling without an experienced companion.
On 22-Feb 2006, two e-mails were received from Ms. Travel Agent at The Wholesale Travel Group. The first one contained a message from Ms. Travel Agent stating, "This first e-ticket is for your mom and the second email I will send you is for your sister." That first e-mail included an attached E-ticket Itinerary in my mother's name. The second e-mail contained a message from Ms. Travel Agent stating, "Here is the one for your sister." That e-mail contained another copy of the E-ticket Itinerary for my mother.
Receiving only a duplicate E-Ticket for one passenger, I immediately contacted Ms. Travel Agent via cell phone to notify her of the mistake. She advised me that tickets had been booked for two passengers, and that the original booking number that had been provided is all that would be required upon check-in at the airport. I stated that both travelers would be more comfortable with appropriate documentation, and was told by Ms. Travel Agent that she would not be returning to her office due to her own scheduled departure to Paris the following day. This made her unable to access and forward my sister's E-Ticket Itinerary, but she reiterated that it was unnecessary to have such documentation. She once again stated that both passengers were booked, and that the booking number was all that would be required.
On the evening of 25-Feb 2006, less than 12 hours prior to the scheduled departure, I attempted to utilize Air Canada's Web Check-in service to check in both passengers and print their boarding passes. This was to minimize the necessary actions that the inexperienced passengers would have to take upon arrival at the airport early the next morning. I completed the process for my mother, including the printing of her boarding passes. My attempt to do the same for my sister failed, and I called Air Canada's toll free number.
I explained our troubles with the web check-in to an agent named Ms. Airline Agent at Air Canada and was then placed on hold. At this point, both my mother and my sister began to worry. Neither passenger was able to go to sleep as planned, due to the situation being unresolved. After almost 30 minutes on hold, Ms. Airline Agent returns and explains that my sister does not have a ticket. Through a detailed explanation, we learned that while my mother's seat was "confirmed", my sister's seat remained in "unconfirmed" status. Ms. Airline Agent stated that this was a result of the travel agent's failure to confirm my sister's reservation and remit payment for her ticket. Upon placing us on hold an additional time, Ms. Airline Agent attempted to contact The Wholesale Travel Group or find an emergency contact number for the agency or agent. Those attempts proved unsuccessful.
I was told by Ms. Airline Agent that in order for my sister to travel on the scheduled flights the next morning, a ticket must be purchased at the current price of approximately $2,000.00, almost 4 times the fare already paid to The Wholesale Travel Group. She said that regardless of whether we or The Wholesale Travel Group purchase this new ticket, it would have to be purchased at the current fare price. Furthermore, she explained that had I not attempted to use web check-in and discovered this error, the passengers would have been turned away at the airport the next morning.
Both passengers were now panicked and unable to sleep, worrying that their entire vacation plans were now ruined and that their hotel deposit and airline fare payments would be lost. Over two hours into the phone call, Ms. Airline Agent had sought advice from a coworker, spoken to her supervisor, and politely remained adamant that the fare would have to be purchased at the current price.
I continued to ask Ms. Airline Agent for further options and she offered to seek authorization from another department to sell this new ticket to me at the same price I had paid for the original tickets (528.96 per ticket). She stated that such authorization is usually only granted in cases involving an error on Air Canada's part, and that it was highly unlikely, but not impossible, it would be granted in this case involving a mistake by a travel agent independent from Air Canada.
Now almost 3 hours into the conversation with Ms. Airline Agent, she returns to advise me that authorization had been granted to sell me this ticket at the same price I had paid for the original tickets back in January. She stated that Air Canada would be incurring a loss of approximately $1500.00 in order to do so, and that my travel agency should really be the responsible for the entire $2000.00 loss. I paid $528.96 via MasterCard for the ticket.
Ms. Airline Agent was unable to arrange for the passengers' seats to be side-by-side at this point due to the fact that web check-in had already been used to print one passenger's boarding passes. This caused extreme panic for both passengers, as they were already nervous to travel, uncomfortable with the situation, and overtired due to this 3-hour late-night fiasco, only a few hours before their early morning departure.
This entire experience with The Wholesale Travel Group and Air Canada has been frustrating and unpleasant to say the least. The events leading up to the departure were a nightmare for both passengers, and the fact that we needed to purchase an additional ticket is unacceptable.
I'm providing this notification to you as per the request of Ms. Travel Agency Manager, the manager on duty at The Wholesale Travel Group at the time of my most recent telephone call with your agency, on 01-Mar 2006. I intend to seek legal counsel if no notification of compensation is received within 24 hours.