The very first picture we ever took of Sherman, our motorhome. Ten years ago today. Photo taken August 19, 2007.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Cabri Regional Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Where are they going next? Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on September 25th!

Monday, June 5, 2017

We tried to book a flight to China this morning...

I was all set to write the blog post this morning when I saw a flash up on my facebook notifications....

Montreal to Shanghai, China for $683 CAD ($515 USD) return on Air Canada.

For some reason, at the time I thought it said $638 return, but it was a great deal nonetheless. Anyhow, we have those two Air Canada flight vouchers from when we got bumped on our way out to Regina at the end of April, so we thought about it for a couple of hours and then decided to book.

Sometimes, thinking about it for a couple of hours doesn't pay off because flight specials can change so quickly. In this case, the deal was still there, but I had to call Air Canada directly in order to use the vouchers. You can't redeem them online.

The vouchers have a disclaimer on them. It reads (exactly) like this...

This electronic voucher may be used toward the purchase of an airline ticket, however it is not applicable toward the payment of any taxes and fees. This voucher is valid for travel within one year of the date of issue and is non-refundable. To redeem this voucher, please call Air Canada reservations.

And we understood that ahead of time, because we had used the vouchers a couple of weeks ago to book our return trip to Ottawa in September.

In this case, the fare breakdown for the flight to Shanghai looked like this...

Flight for the two of us.

So, based on the Air Canada website and the information on the vouchers, we could use the vouchers to pay the $1,200.00, and we would be responsible for the Taxes, Fees, and Charges of $145.00.

So I called them. The girl was very pleasant, and took all the booking and voucher information. But when it came time to pay, she didn't ask for $145... she asked for $925.04!

Huh??!

She said that the only thing we could cover with the vouchers was the "base fare" which was $209.98 per person. The taxes, fees, and surcharges (??) had to be paid by us.

If you look at the fare details you get this breakdown...


You can clearly see what they call "Taxes, Fees, and Charges", and what they call "Air Transportation Charges".

She went and spoke to her superiors, but wouldn't allow me to talk to them. She said her hands were tied, even though she said she understood why I was confused. I called back and spoke to another person, but with the same response, despite them also agreeing that they could see my point.

Also, I checked the same fare at Expedia... here's the breakdown they show...

You can clearly see what is an "Air Transportation Charge" and what is "Taxes, Fees, and Charges".

I have now registered a formal complaint with them, so we'll see what comes of that.

Either way, I would expect that we're not going to China, but we'll keep searching for another deal we can use these vouchers on.

These vouchers worked great for our flights back to Ottawa where we just had to pay the $36 taxes and fees because there were no surcharges listed under the "Base Fare". But I see that quite a number of international flights have this "Surcharge" and "Carrier Surcharge" listed, and Air Canada thinks they are part of "Taxes and Fees", despite the fact that they themselves have them listed under "Transportation Charges". It is truly mind boggling!

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Be ready for summer... the best selling household tower fan just had a big price drop...




21 comments:

  1. No wonder you're confused. This makes no sense whatsoever to me. I don't like all the hidden stuff, fees, etc. Seems shady. Be interesting to see what comes of your complaint. Oh well, if you're not able to take advantage of the flight to China, looks like something better will come along later on!

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    1. We don't like it either when companies aren't clear with their rules. If they say that the "surcharge" is part of the "taxes and fees" then it should be included under "taxes and fees", or the voucher should state that it can only be used on the "base fare" or that it is not applicable toward the "taxes, fees and surcharges". To us this is false advertising!

      That is what we are thinking too, another great flight will come up to some other wonder place without that "surcharge".

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  2. Why does there always have to be some kind of hidden catch. No matter who you are dealing with from car salesmen to insurance to whatever. Hope you can find a good deal to China. I'd love to see those posts.

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    1. It does seem to happen a lot, that there are hidden fees or catches but Kevin wouldn't put up with that. He will fight it or just not purchase said item/service.

      If he can't resolve this "surcharge" with Air Canada then we will not be going to China, we will find a flight to somewhere else that doesn't include this "surcharge" and wherever that may be, guaranteed it will still be a great trip and a fun adventure.

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  3. Kevin, do you still have your receipts from your airfares to Seoul, South Korea and Spain? I would be curious to see if any of those categories of fees and surcharges appear in your South Korea and Spain airfare breakdowns. The charge that seems weird is the large carrier surcharge. In March of 2016, our US Senator Blumenthal sent a letter to Delta Airlines chastising the airline for continuing its carrier surcharge (which was found to be as high as $650US on some international flights) after jet fuel prices had plummeted during the last few years. Delta replied that it reserved the right to continue or remove the surcharge at will. It is noted that the only large US airline that flies long international routes and has removed this "carrier surcharge" for extraordinarily high jet fuel prices is United Airlines.

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    1. I checked the one to Spain (also through Air Canada) and it lists fare as $110 pp plus taxes and surcharges of $409.28 pp. Total $519.28 pp.

      The "surcharge" is a scam, meant to help the carrier by avoiding paying commissions to booking agents. Also, many frequent flier programs make you pay the surcharge when you redeem for flight "rewards".

      Of course the surcharge should have been removed once the fuel crisis was over, but they'll hang on for as long as they can, and who can blame them? But eventually, they'll have to come back down as competition forces them to do so. But here in Canada, we have very little competition...

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    2. Kevin, even with deregulation of the airlines years ago in the US, entering the airline industry as a fledgling airline with the intentions of growing is a very high risk venture; this industry is very labor and capital intensive, so those barriers dampen the competition of young airlines. But I try to fly small to medium size airlines when I can with the hope they will be successful. The large airlines (as my Mother use to say) are "getting too big for their britches," as shown in Delta's snippy reply to Senator Blumenthal's letter. The real competition will happen if and when the US gets an efficiently run passenger rail service in this country similar to Europe.

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    3. If you truly want to fight this, on any written communications to Air Canada, copy your elected government representative and show it on the communications; it will at least get their attention.

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    4. Dee, you don't know what lack of competition is. The U.S. has lots of competition, which is why you have great airfare prices. Canada, does not.

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    5. Kevin, even in a highly capitalist country such as the US, there is always room for improvement. But I will never throw daggers at our Best Friends north of the border; you guys are always there for us, even when we are dead wrong about a situation. Our politicians need to remember that. You as a Canadian citizen can only change your country. Remember, you essentially said that to me when Hillary won the popular vote, but lost the electoral college vote.

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    6. The US may have lots of competition in domestic flights but not very many international flights and do various countries. Most specifically cater to specific areas i.e. Hawaiian to the islands, Alaska is domestic, Southwest domestic with some to Mexico, etc. They may have subsidiary airlines they do business with but I'm not an 'international' traveler across the pond or to Asia so don't know about that. I also agree USA needs high speed electric trains crisscrossing the country but no politician has championed that cause yet even though they drum a beat saying they will develop infrastructure.

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  4. I'd as for a voucher that covers everything. Seems like a scam to offer flight voucher that is less than it's value when used. I'd use them for domestic flight so no surcharges on tickets.

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    1. They only have the one type of voucher and it isn't worth less than it's value, they are saying that it can only be used on the "base fare" so it would mean that you have to pay the taxes, fees and surcharges, so than you would still have value left on the voucher to put towards another flight at another time. However, that is not what the voucher states, it says that we are responsible only for the "taxes and fees" nowhere on the voucher does it state that we are also responsible for the "surcharges" or that the surcharges are part of the "taxes and fees", if it had plainly stated that on the voucher then we wouldn't have had a problem and we would have then be fully accepting of their conditions but because the voucher doesn't include this then they shouldn't be able to add this on after the fact. It is like changing the rules of a card game half way through a game to favour you.

      We can't just use them for domestic flights because we wouldn't be able to use them up by their one year time limit for any travel that we want to do within Canada. Kevin will however keep fighting with Air Canada and hopefully they will bend but we doubt it, otherwise he will keep his eyes open for a good deal to anywhere that doesn't include a surcharge.

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  5. Good luck with straightening this out, is confusing for sure.

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    1. Thanks George, we are gonna need a lot of luck to try and straighten it out with Air Canada!

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  6. Maybe it's for the best; a friend of mine who is a flight attendant and has been all over the world absolutely hated Shanghai. She loved Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, and many other spots, but found Shanghai so dirty, with awful polluted air. Granted, this was quite a few years ago, but I'd be surprised if it were much nicer now.

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    1. We can't go by what others think because we think so differently than many people. We have heard much the same thing about Mexico City but loved it there. We also wouldn't stay in Shanghai the whole three weeks, maybe stay there for a five days or so and then get out into the country. We have seen some beautiful hikes and scenery that aren't all that far from Shanghai. Anyways, it looks like we won't find out this winter because if we are going to use our vouchers we want to go somewhere that doesn't include a surcharge. China, will have to wait for another another time.

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  7. Airline issues? Remember when I was or still am concerned about flight delays? :)

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    1. Yep, I know you don't have a happy place for airlines in your heart, lol! :-)

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  8. Man, that is such a bummer! China would be a great visit. You'd think with the money airlines are making hand over fist with the cheaper fuel prices, they's reduce the airfares.

    Knowing how you find amazing fares, I have no doubts that sooner or later you'll score an amazing fare to China. :c)

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    1. We agree, China would have been a great visit even though we would have only seen a tiny bit of it. Guess, we will just have to wait for another opportunity to go there for a visit and maybe then we would also have more time to stay and visit.

      This would have been an amazing fare to China if they also included that surcharge in the voucher! They need to be more clear on the wording in the vouchers. Actually even without the voucher this was a great price but we will find somewhere else to visit where we don't have to worry about this surcharge. We will however, one day make it to China just not this year.

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