An Ontario woman expressed her frustration on social media after attempting to book reasonably-priced flights with Air Canada, only to be slapped with an "exorbitant carrier surcharge" fee worth "more than the flights themselves."
Shannon Proudfoot was browsing Air Canada's website with the hopes of booking flights from Ottawa to Paris and towards the end of the purchase, was shocked when a $4,050 carrier surcharge was slapped onto the ticket price.
"What the ever-loving hell is this,@AirCanada? I get semi-sane fares as I try to book the tickets and then this exorbitant “carrier surcharge” that’s more than the flights themselves," Proudfoot wrote in a tweet.
What the ever-loving hell is this, @AirCanada? I get semi-sane fares as I try to book the tickets and then this exorbitant “carrier surcharge” that’s more than the flights themselves. And your explanation of what on earth that is leaves much to be desired. pic.twitter.com/vJbPaoqNRr
— Shannon Proudfoot (@sproudfoot) April 26, 2023
Proudfoot said there was "no warning of whatever this surcharge is until" she got to the point of purchase.
She also went on to explain that she made several attempts to lower the astronomical fees by selecting different dates and flights but the lack of transparency on the carrier's site prevented her from finding an alternative cheaper option.
Different flights (same cities), same problem. Flights five months away. This is insane. pic.twitter.com/cKhoqWDrqF
— Shannon Proudfoot (@sproudfoot) April 26, 2023
This is not an isolated incident as a Twitter user responded to Proudfoot's post saying he had encountered a similar experience recently after attempting to take advantage of an Air Canada promotion, only to be slapped with an additional $2,220 carrier surcharge to the fare.
A little while back I received a promotion code from Air Canada as compensation for a delay. When I tried to use it, the fare didn’t change. When I looked closely, the base fare was $1 per person, and all the charges were ‘carrier surcharge’. Code only applied to base fare. pic.twitter.com/AA9KoPd5Fe
— Gil Meslin (@g_meslin) April 26, 2023
While Canadians are having to fork over more cash to set foot on a plane due to rising fuel and operational costs, federal rules implemented during 2012 require airlines to include "the total price, inclusive of all taxes, fees and charges which a consumer must pay to obtain the air service."
Proudfoot says her experience "directly contravenes" this requirement.
A statement released by the Canadian Transportation Agency explains "the first price presented to the consumer must be the total price."
Airlines commonly add surcharges to their fares as a means to offset volatile, unpredictable or fluctuating operating costs and fees, and certain fare Premiums linked to peak travel periods.
According to the Canada Transportation Act, carriers in violation of the rules are subject to administrative monetary penalties ranging from $5,000 for an individual to $25,000 if determined to be guilty by Designated Enforcement Officers (DEO). The DEOs will then determine what corrective measures are required and the level of penalties will be established based on a number of factors including the frequency and nature of the offence.
Twitter users responded to Proudfoot's experience, echoing similar frustrations over lack of transparency on what factors determine added fees on airline tickets.
Sounds like surge pricing buried in fees. If not illegal it’s unethical.
— SoniaJ (@sj_ca1867) April 26, 2023
! Doesn’t this directly contravene the all in airline pricing?
Please don’t tell me we are back to the era of airlines advertising $179 fares and then the total bill is $550.
— Angryark (@angryark99) April 26, 2023
Holy moly. This made me look back at tickets I bought a while back for July flights to see what the charge was, and it was zero. So is this arbitrary, or?
— Mike Storeshaw (@mstoreshaw) April 26, 2023
Are you travelling with an ancient sarcophagus or a travelling band? That charge is crazy.
— how soon is now? (@InvisibleSloth) April 26, 2023
Hopefully, you can book another airline. After several bad experiences, I’d walk before flying Air Canada.
— Doug Rutherford (@dougrutherford) April 26, 2023
Air Canada responded to Yahoo News Canada's request for comment and said, "We can confirm that Air Canada’s fares are always displayed as a total purchase price on aircanada.com. This means all fares displayed include all taxes, surcharges and government fees. As a matter of transparency, we also show the purchase price breakdown prior to purchase. It is important to note that the breakdown is of the total purchase price displayed and there are no additional surcharges or taxes applied. The fares are in line with the market prices for six tickets for travel to France."
They also included screenshots showing that "the price is all-in from the start of the search process."
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