More Flair passengers come forward on how ID misinformation from airline left them stranded
Posted February 27, 2023 3:03 pm.
More Flair passengers are sharing their frustrations with the airline after the same ID they used to board their outbound flights were denied when returning home.
CityNews reported the story of an Ontario man and his family that were essentially stranded in Halifax for days due to alleged misinformation that was provided to him about his ID by Flair airline. Since then other CityNews readers have come forward with identical stories, eager to share their disheartening experiences.
“I want to share my story in hopes that other people will share theirs and put a stop to these horrible situations with Flair”, Lisa Oppers tells CityNews.
The Ontario resident who hadn’t travelled in over seven years was looking forward to her upcoming flight to Vancouver to visit family. Not owning a driver’s license or passport, she knew her health card would be a valid piece of ID to travel across Canada, but noticed it was set to expire in the middle of her seven day trip.
Like Conway, Oppers visited a Service Ontario to renew her OHIP card and was provided with a “transaction record” document displaying the information of her new health card that she was to receive in the mail. A form she was told to use in lieu of her set to expire health card until her renewed card was to arrive.
For reassurance she called Flair’s customer service department.
“I explained the form. They said no problem. You’ll have no issues as long as you have that piece of paper from Service Ontario, no problem at all”, says Oppers.
When she arrived at Toronto Pearson Airport on January 19th to board her flight, the front desk agents initially questioned the document but deemed it acceptable. It wasn’t until Oppers was checking in for her return flight a week later in Vancouver that she realized returning home wouldn’t go as smoothly.
“Got to the check in counter, handed my health card and the piece of paper that it was still valid until like, I think February 18”, says Oppers, explaining that with one look the agent said it was expired, could not accept it and there was nothing they could do to help her.
“And I said but it got me here. Like, it got me here to Vancouver and I need to get home”.
She was told to contact customer service. The same department that allegedly confirmed to her that the document would be valid, was now telling her that it is not an acceptable piece of ID for national air travel.
“So then I went to WestJet and I just said I’m stranded and I can’t get home. This is what I have for my ID. So he brought me around the desk”, adds Oppers, who was grateful to the staff at the WestJet counter for assisting her in purchasing a new ticket and welcoming the only ID she had to fly home that same day.
The same airline assisted Melissa Sacrey in getting home, with the same ID she used to board her Flair flight out of Edmonton was denied at Toronto Pearson Airport.
In early October the Alberta resident and her husband had planned a weekend trip to Toronto to watch a Blue Jays game.
“So when I got to the airport, we checked in here in Alberta. Everything was fine. When I got to the gate to board the plane to come to Ontario the lady at the ticket – you know where they check your ID – she said to me ‘your driver license is expired’. And I was like ‘really?’”
Requesting another form of ID, Sacrey only had her provincial health card which she presented with her vaccine passport.
“And she said no you can travel with this it’s fine, just get your driver’s license renewed when you get back. I said ‘are you sure it will be fine flying to and from?’ and she said yeah, it’s Canadian laws, you can travel with your vaccine passport and Alberta health care card’’, says Sacrey.
But when she arrived at Pearson, she was asked to step out of the line at the checkin counter.
“I said no, listen, I don’t live here. I’m not from here. And she said ‘Well it looks like to me you’re going to have to drive home’. I had to work the next day. I was just devastated”.
While an Ontario health card is valid as a single piece of photo ID for national travel, Sacrey’s Alberta health card does not contain a photo, requiring her to provide a second piece of ID that is listed under Public Safety Canada regulations. And while she presented her provincially issued vaccine passport that displayed her personal information, the document is not listed under Public Safety Canada regulations as acceptable documents.
“They said no, it’s your mistake. You did this. You’re just going to have to stay there and wait until someone mails you your passport”, describes the Fort McMurray resident, who put her faith in the information the Flair agent in Alberta had told her.
“There was no common decency. It’s fine that it was my mistake but the way they handled the situation we will never fly Flair again”.
Sacrey’s husband approached a WestJet agent explaining the situation. After reviewing her pieces of ID, they informed the pair that she could board a flight home with their airline. And like Conway and Oppers, she too was denied reimbursement after contacting Flair about what their experiences.
“These situations are unfortunate. We regret that the passengers may have received conflicting information, and we will review the specific cases”, writes a Flair spokesperson in a statement to CityNews.
“Where Flair has erred, it will try to make it right. The onus of providing valid travel identification is on the passenger, pursuant to the publicly available information on the airline website and by Transport Canada. There are a several valid types of identification for travel.”
CityNews sent a copy of the Service Ontario form to Transport Canada inquiring whether or not it was valid to board domestic flights, a spokesperson from the agency did not address the form but only reiterated the information posted on the Public Safety Canada page.
According to the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery the transaction record provided at the end of the process can be used to access Ontario health services.
“Transaction records are familiar to health care providers and show the card number and current version code. These can be used in lieu of the original health card to access insured health services, while waiting for the health card to arrive”, writes Issues Management and Media Relations Manager, Matteo Guinci in an email to CityNews.
While it’s confirmed that these transaction documents can be used in lieu of the original health card for admittance of health services in Ontario, it is still unclear if they’re accepted in lieu of the original health card for other services like domestic travel, as it continues to be accepted by some airline staff and not others.