Our fellow citizen Mohammed Khan, returning to Canada from a trip to Bangladesh, was marooned in the Frankfurt airport this past Tuesday after Air Canada refused to allow him to fly home. It seems that the very uncommon names “Mohammed” and “Khan” appeared on a Canadian Government “no-fly” list.
“Three or four” other people with the same birth date are on a “black list,” he was told. That would suggest that two or three namesakes are out of luck as well.
One can understand prudence these days, of course. If a fellow named “John Smith” suddenly appeared on a no-fly list, thousands of people stranded around the world would simply be the price we have to pay for our freedoms. But when Foreign Affairs clears them for boarding, that should be an end of it.
Not for Air Canada.
By Thursday, Canadian consular officials told him his name was cleared and he was free to fly back into Canada. But Khan said he was still not allowed to fly with Air Canada.
Now, see if this adds up:
British Airways was able to sell him a ticket at any time, officials said, but would only check if he was on a no-fly list once he was boarding, by which time Khan’s name had been cleared. Air Canada, on the other hand, knew only that he had been on a no-fly list, and said it was not alerted by Frankfurt officials that his status had changed. [emphasis added]
Good old pro-active Air Canada. Were they asked to make a phone call to consular officials directly? Did they refuse? A little media probing here would be helpful. I find it hard to imagine that the desperate Khan, anxious to see his family, wouldn’t have asked them to do so after a positive response from the consulate on Thursday.
In any case, Mohammed is home now, thanks to British Airways. Air Canada, with its usual competence, finally gave permission for him to board yesterday—when Khan was already in the air.
And, classy to the end, Air Canada has refused to refund him the cost of his expensive last-minute BA ticket.
Welcome back anyway, Mohammed Khan. I, for one, will understand if you give the July 1 fireworks a miss this year.