The Airline Offered a Passenger $800 Compensation If He Gave Up His Seat. Then It Refused To Pay Up

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

He was trying to be nice.

He got to the airport, realized the airline was looking for volunteers to give up their seats on an overcrowded plane, so he decided to be public-spirited.

Ah, if only airlines could manage such human decency.

I only mention this as Daniel Tsai’s story comes across as especially galling.

Air Canada, he says, first offered him $600 in travel vouchers. Then it increased its offer to $800.

Could this really be that decency was being observed all around?

No, it couldn’t. We’re talking about airlines here.

You see, when Tsai finally got home and got some sleep, he said he was awakened by a slight adjustment in his compensation via email. 

Air Canada was now offering him only a promotional code for 15 percent off a future flight. 

Tsai’s reaction wasn’t neutral: 

It was like reading a Donald Trump tweet. It didn’t make any sense.

He admits to being angry. 

Worse, he says that Air Canada claimed he’d caught an earlier flight, when in fact he’d delayed his journey by six hours after giving up his seat.

I contacted the airline to ask for its view and will hope that it replies with at least 15 percent of its story.

Even after Tsai pleaded his case, he says he was only offered $300.

The airline said his original flight wasn’t overbooked, but that it had to switch planes to a smaller one.

To which some might mutter: So what? You offered him $800 to give up his seat.

It was only after the intervention of CBC’s Go Public investigative team that Tsai got his $800 compensation.

What’s mind-numbing, however, is why the airline would make him a verbal offer and then simply renege on the deal.

I thought Canadians were trustworthy sorts. At least, that’s their brand image.

What’s quite comical, however, is that the airline would try something like this on Tsai.

He’s a business lawyer. Oh, and a part-time professor too.

Even he, though, said he had to do quite some research to discover his rights.

In Air Canada’s case, it’s hard to grasp why it would have been so apparently twisted in its attitude toward its customer. 

For a few hundred dollars, it’s earned hundreds of thousands of dollars of bad publicity.

That doesn’t seem like a good deal at all.