• Tue, Dec 31 - 12:00 pm ET

Air Canada Refuses To Transfer Voucher To Wife Who Kept Her Own Last Name

148678119A Calgary author was baffled this week, when he was unable to transfer a flight voucher to his wife because she didn’t have the same last name. What year is it again?

Chris Turner attempted to transfer a flight voucher that he earned by volunteering to be bumped off a flight. It is Air Canada’s policy that these vouchers can be transferred to family members – there’s just one catch; to protect against “fraud,” family members must have the same last name.  The Twitter interaction started like this:

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Air Canada responded:

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Turner, who is now my personal hero, countered with:

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Turner has upwards of 5,000 followers – many who chimed in to let Air Canada know that their policy was unfair and archaic. It’s become pretty commonplace to air grievances on social media – and that can sometimes get pretty tiresome. But I support Turner in his public objection. He explained, “If @aircanada‘s service rep hadn’t been so wearily familiar with the glitch I was encountering, I probably wouldn’t have made it public.”

Air Canada defended their policy on Twitter, in a two part tweet: “Just to be clear: as a rule, vouchers are transferable to ANYBODY.(1) Hwvr,transfers bfr trvl made over the phone can only be to relatives w/same last name,in order to avoid fraud. (2)”

I understand why Turner got bent out of shape about this. Turner volunteered to be bumped off a flight and earned this voucher – and going to the airport to take care of the transfer is a total inconvenience. I think it’s safe to say there are plenty of family members who do not share surnames, for a variety of reasons. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to protest a company that is keeping to a definition of “family” that is pretty out-dated. Many, many partners don’t share last names. If this is your predominant method of “fraud prevention” in the phone transfer of these vouchers – looks like you need to find a new one.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • CMJ

    I don’t know…I guess I get it? It is annoying but I don’t think I would take to twitter to complain about something that is a stated policy….and this is coming from someone with a different last name as their husband.

    They should probably figure out a method to transfer via phone but I guess if someone was the victim of fraud they would ALSO bitch about why the airline didn’t protect them…it’s a double-edged sword.

    • Ashley

      “It is annoying but I don’t think I would take to twitter to complain about something that is a stated policy”

      Even if it’s a policy you disagree with? ‘Well, it’s policy’ doesn’t seem like a reason to accept something. I get what they’re trying to do, but there are lots of families with different names, so it kind of screws a lot of people. And honestly, I don’t even see why the voucher has to stay within family. If you’ve earned it, you should be able to give it to whomever you wish.

    • CMJ

      But you can…..you just can’t do it over the phone. Like I said, I think the policy sucks. But on my list of airline offenses…it’s low.

    • Ashley

      My bad, I missed that part of the story! I totally agree that it’s not a major issue, just a sucky one. I guess what it comes down to is that they aren’t confident in their ability to confirm someone’s identity over the phone. In which case, I’m not sure why they allow you to transfer vouchers on the phone at all (not that I would want that option to go away altogether). I do wonder if they couldn’t come up with a way to better confirm caller identity, rather than completely disallow this kind of transfer.

    • jsterling93

      If you want a policy to change complaining as one person over the phone does no good. By taking to social media there will be enough pressure that a change might actually happen. By just taking it and not going public companies can keep justifying that their policy is ok because after all they only get the occasional complaint. By tweeting this person was able to get a lot of people behind him and now maybe something will change.

    • DatNanny

      Honestly, I agree. It’s annoying, but is it really something to bitch that much about? Not everything in life is perfect for every scenario, sometimes we just have to take things with a grain of salt. We’re not entitled to have EVERYTHING be of the utmost convenience for us, even if he did give up a seat for the voucher. Most airlines I know wouldn’t be willing to transfer a voucher in ANY case.

      And I can see how easy it would be transfer a voucher to anyone – a friend, someone off craigslist, over the phone and claim they’re a family member. Needing the same last name seems an easy way to weed out some of that early on.

    • Rachel Sea

      There are plenty of of ways to ensure a transfer isn’t fraudulent that are more common, and yet more secure. They could request for a password to be set up upon issue, require an ID number, require backup fax or email of a written statement of transfer…

      Making it just be the same last name means that a dick relative with the same last name could more easily take the voucher fraudulently. It’s a stupid system, and should be exposed as such.

  • marha

    Im sorry but Air Canada is hugely based here in Quebec and every wife has her own last name ! they don’t allow you to change it so i know they have got to have a way to change it or they must have a boat load of complaints !!!!!

    • EmmaFromÉire

      I never knew that about changing surnames, would you mind going into a bit of detail about it? So you just aren’t able to take your husband’s name? Would children take the father’s name?

    • Yo yo ma

      I didn’t take my husband’s name. One child has my name, one child has his. Done. It is becoming more common but not where I live. I have to explain it allllll the time.

    • Eileen

      Starting in the early ’80s, in Quebec, changing your name upon marriage became as difficult as changing your name for any other purpose. The province has offered multiple reasons (feminism, French tradition versus British), but given how efficient the Quebecois government is I suspect laziness on the part of the bureaucracy…but no, Quebecoise women cannot take their husbands’ names, although if after several decades of being known as “Mrs. Smith,” Judy Jones wants to change her name to Judy Smith, she might be able to do it under the grounds that that is the name she is known by. Children can have either name, although the majority of the ones I know have either the father’s or a hyphenated name.

    • Roselyne

      Typically, you just don’t change your name, and legal documents are in your birth name (so, for example, my grandmother’s medical cards are in her maiden names).

      For children, either name can be passed down (admittedly: usually the father’s), and hyphenated last names are pretty common – I have both parents names, and am passing on one name to my daughter (along with my husband’s last name).

      That said, this means that I don’t have the same last name as my father, mother, husband, OR children.

  • Muggle

    My last name is really common in the English-speaking world. Any idiot with the same last name could weasel their way around a policy like this one. I know, I know, chances are slim, but still. This is a stupid policy.

    Also, what about kids of women who have been divorced, got remarried, and changed their names? Are they potential fraudsters too?

  • Momma425

    I can see how this might prevent fraud if you have some unique last name. But if your last name is Smith, Brown, or Jones…got lord, EVERYONE has those last names. I feel like there should be a better way to prevent fraud…

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    So, if you get married and change your name, then all your blood relatives are a no go? You must transfer to your husband’s family only? I don’t get it.

  • My2bits

    So, I took my husband’s last name. Does that make me June Cleaver? I agree that the policy is ridiculous, but I found the June Cleaver line a little insulting.

  • Alexandra

    I feel like most vouchers of this type are non-transferrable, so yea, if you want to transfer you may have to do it in person or just use your ticket yourself??
    AirCanada could respond by making any and all vouchers non-transferrable.

  • Rachel Sea

    It seems like they are trying to stop people from transferring by way of technicality. If I had to drive a 3 hour round trip to the airport, stand in a line, and pay an exorbitant parking fee, I’d think twice about transferring. They probably save money because people who can’t use them allow the vouchers to expire rather than go through the hassle of transferring it.

    They should either make them non-transferable, or bring their transfer policy in line with modern security. Lots of people have the same last name, that’s not a secure verification method.