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N.B. man denied flight due to tear in passport’s seam

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What seemed to be a minor passport issue turned into a major problem for a New Brunswick man who was denied a boarding pass from Air Canada.

Chris Andersen of Oak Bay, N.B., arrived in Montreal on June 15 after finishing a cruise vacation with his wife Lori around New England and Atlantic Canada.

The couple were planning to fly back to Boston to get their vehicle, using Air Canada.

When Chris presented his passport at the airline’s check-in counter, the customer service agent immediately deemed it unacceptable.

“There was a little bit of a tear in the (document’s) seam,” said Chris. “No damage to the picture.”

Chris said it became clear after a few minutes the air carrier wasn’t going to accept the document.

Lori’s passport had similar fraying in the same location, but to a lesser degree with no complete tear.

Her passport was deemed acceptable by Air Canada, but Lori said she wasn’t about to fly on to Boston without Chris.

“I’m disabled, there’s no way I can fly without my husband,” said Lori.

Ultimately the couple took a day-long bus ride from Montreal to Boston to pick up their vehicle, adding an overnight night stay and other expenses on their journey home.

Air Canada wouldn’t speak to this particular case.

According to Passport Canada, a passport is considered damaged if it impedes the identification of the holder, appears to have been altered or falsified, or could potentially cause problems at a point of entry.

In a written statement, Air Canada said, “Airlines are strictly regulated with respect to admission requirements to the country and they are subject to penalties, including fines, if they bring individuals without valid and acceptable travel documents to Canada.”

Both Chris and Lori’s passports expire next month, 10 years after being issued. They suspect the wear on both of their passports’ seams was caused by being swiped through passport readers over the past decade.

The couple, who live along the New Brunswick-Maine border, said their passports were used at the land border crossings several times a week before and after the incident with no issue.

The couple estimates the combined costs of unused flight tickets and additional overnight expenses total nearly $1,400. Air Canada has offered a $25 refund.

Chris said the whole experience had left him sour toward the airline, and travel in general.

“Right now I don’t want to go anywhere, because that was pretty much the day from hell,” he said.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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