A P.E.I. mom was barred from boarding an Air Canada flight because she was travelling with two infant children, which violated Canadian safety regulations.
Tara Stemkoski was flying back to her hometown in P.E.I. from Seoul, South Korea to visit her 80-year-old grandmother, who was hospitalized with pneumonia. Stemkoski booked tickets for herself, her five-year-old daughter Aria and three-month-old twins Malcom and Elise, but not before confirming with an agent twice that she would be allowed to fly with her kids.
"The agent explained to me that I could only have one lap baby which I fully understand," Stemkoski told CityNews. "And I would have to book a seat for the additional infant plus my five-year-old, so three seats total four tickets."
Stemkoski booked her tickets on July 24, The Guardian reports. Her husband was scheduled to fly out to P.E.I. later in August because he had a business trip booked at the same time Stemkoski made her travel plans.
After calling an Air Canada agent a second time, the mom-of-three was reassured that flying with her three children wouldn't be an issue.
"She said I had one lap baby, one was in a car seat beside me, and it wouldn't be a problem," Stemkoski told CBC.
I was kind of horrified, it really seemed like we were just given a complete brush-off.
Unfortunately, it was a different story when Stemkoski got to the airport in Seoul on Monday. After trying to check in, the mom-of-three had to wait one hour for Air Canada officials to look at their regulations.
Stemkoski was then told she would not be allowed to fly with her daughter and newborn twins because Transport Canada requires one adult per infant — meaning anyone under the age of two — while travelling.
"I was kind of horrified, it really seemed like we were just given a complete brush-off," the mom said of the incident.
Transport Canada told CityNews in an email that their regulation was put in place for safety reasons. "In the event that an evacuation is needed, it is very difficult to safely evacuate an aircraft in a timely manner while holding two or more infants," they wrote. "These rules align with international standards and best practices."
It just seems so ridiculous that you could get to the point of having a boarding pass in hand after going through so many people.
Despite this, the mom was upset she wasn't informed of this before buying a ticket. "It just seems so ridiculous that you could get to the point of having a boarding pass in hand after going through so many people," she told the site.
On Twitter, many agreed that Air Canada agents should have given her accurate information from the start.
Get your story straight..the answer should have been right from the beginning https://t.co/dUU7C6DQnI— Sherif Ebeid (@sherifebeid) July 26, 2017
In the end, Air Canada rebooked Stemkoski's flight, and also offered her a complimentary ticket for her father to accompany her and her children on the return trip home to South Korea.
On top of that, Air Canada has also issued an apology to the family, but stand by their decision to honour safety regulations.
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"We're so sorry we didn't get this right the first time during the booking process," a spokesperson for the airline said in a statement to CBC. "It's important we apply Transport Canada's policy that requires that there are enough adults travelling for the safety of small children in case of an emergency."
CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story stated that Air Canada refunded Tara Stemkoski's tickets. The airline actually rebooked the family on another flight.