It’s a traveler’s nightmare to miss a connecting flight and have to unexpectedly spend the night in an unfamiliar city.
What could be more awkward? Maybe an airline asking two strangers to share a hotel room – with only one bed.
Jerryne Mahele Nyota of Ottawa said she was shocked when her 71-year-old mother told her that’s what happened after she missed an Air Canada flight on July 19.
Air Canada said in a statement that the ordeal was the result of a misunderstanding.
“It is not our policy to have passengers who are not traveling together share a room,” the airline said. “In this case an error was initially made allocating rooms.”
Mahele Nyota’s mother, Elizabeth Coffi Tabu, had spent a month with her daughter and family before planning to fly back to Paris. It was a simple enough journey, with a connection in Montreal, Mahele Nyota told CNN. However, Coffi Tabu was in a wheelchair because she’s recovering from cancer treatment, and a delay in the first flight meant she missed her flight to Paris.
After trying to catch the night’s last flight, Coffi Tabu and another passenger, a 35-year-old man, were told that they would have to wait until the following morning.
Air Canada offered to put them up in a nearby hotel, but with a catch: There was only one room available, Mahele Nyota said.
“My mother told the Air Canada agent, ‘I don’t know this man. We are not a couple,’ ” Mahele Nyota said. “But they said there was only one room.”
Not having cellular reception at the airport and not knowing what else to do, Coffi Tabu went to the hotel with the man, Mahele Nyota said. When they arrived, the hotel surprised them by saying the only room had only one bed, Mahele Nyota said. The man offered to sleep on the room’s sofa.
“He was a perfect gentleman,” Mahele Nyota said. “But I obviously felt uncomfortable with my mom spending a night with a man half her age, a man that’s a total stranger!”
After finally connecting with her mother around 9 p.m., Mahele Nyota said she called the hotel and Air Canada in an attempt to straighten things out. About three hours later, Coffi Tabu was booked into another hotel, she said.
Early the next morning, Mahele Nyota drove from Ottawa to Montreal, a distance of nearly 125 miles, to pick her mother up for the flight to Paris.
After telling an Air Canada employee about the ordeal, Coffi Tabu received two $10 food vouchers and a preferred seat with additional leg room. Though Coffi Tabu made it back to Paris, her daughter said it was nearly 24 hours later than originally planned.
“I don’t want this to happen to other families,” Mahele Nyota said. “If you want to change things, you have to speak up.”