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?
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.