Air Canada wants to charge me to give back a free ticket

Here’s a truly weird customer relations experience.

Earlier this year, Air Canada offered a free ticket to the United States to anyone who bought one of their Rapidair Flight Passes. Because I fly between Toronto and Ottawa virtually every week, I use flight passes. So, I qualified for the free ticket offer.

I used the free ticket to book a trip to San Francisco for the second week in June. But earlier today I discovered that I have to be in Ottawa for an important meeting. So, I won’t be able to take the trip.

The only restriction on the ticket was that the travel had to occur prior to June 30. I realized that I could not reschedule the trip to occur before then. I’d have to simply give up the chance to use the free ticket.

So, I went onto the Air Canada Website to cancel the trip.

Now, here’s where the weirdness starts. I sign onto the Website, locate my reservation and click the Cancel button. Up pops a screen that informs me that I must pay $80 to cancel this reservation. That’s odd. Pay $80 to cancel something that was free in the first place? Hmmm.

So, I call the Air Canada reservation centre. I explain to the ticket agent that I wish to cancel the reservation. OK she says. That’ll cost you $40 each way in order to recredit the ticket to my account for future use. I explain that the free ticket has an expiry date of June 30 and that I won’t be able to use it. I don’t need it credited. I just want to cancel my reservation so that Air Canada can resell the seat.

Sorry, she says. If you don’t pay us to cancel the seat, your reservation will stay active and lapse when the flight departs.

Honestly. I’m not making this up.

Air Canada will forego the opportunity to sell a seat on an Ottawa to San Francisco flight unless I pay them $80 to cancel a free ticket. Wow!

Does this make sense to you?