Ontario couple en route to India forced to turn back due to document issue
An Ontario couple had been saving for three years to go to India for two months to attend a wedding, a family reunion and spend time with family and friends.
But the trip came to an abrupt end when they were about to board their connecting flight in Paris, because even though they had the right visa documents, they were copies and not the originals, which was not allowed.
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“I was so excited I was looking forward to it I couldn't wait to get there. To be turned back it was such bad news and we were exhausted,” said Pamela Nazareth of Scarborough.
Nazareth and her husband Ed are both in their 80s and were travelling to Mumbai through Paris on Feb. 19 and while they knew they needed their visa documents, they took copies, not the originals.
Ed said they couldn’t find their original Person of India Visa documents but they had notarized copies which they felt would suffice.
“We couldn't find the originals, but we found the duplicates so we took the duplicates that were notarized," Ed told CTV News Toronto.
Their son Andrew also felt the documents would be accepted for their trip.
“What they had taken was a notarized copy. It was a copy of this document notarized by the government of India," Andrew explained.
When they arrived at Pearson airport in Toronto, they were allowed to board an Air France flight to Paris, but when they tired to board their connecting flight to Mumbai, they were told they needed the original visa documents not copies and were denied boarding.
They were told to fly back to Toronto. The two tickets they had purchased for the trip had cost them $4,900.
"They told us the tickets have been cancelled you have to go back," Ed said.
When CTV News Toronto contacted Air France the airline said, "Passengers are responsible to ensure they have the right documents for their journey.”
The Consulate of India also told CTV News Toronto, "Any traveler to India will be allowed entry if he/she carries valid travel document i.e. Passport along with a valid Visa or PIO/OCI card in original.”
Air France said it could not comment on individual files but the airline did apologize to the Nazareths.
“I am sorry to learn that you were unable to travel to travel to India as planned on the 19th February. Our data shows that because you were not in the possession of the correct documentation for your whole journey you were stopped by the French Authorities in Paris- Charles de Gaulle,” correspondence between the couple and Air France read.
“Although your travel documents were verified before departure in Toronto, it is the passenger's responsibility at all times to meet the prerequisite conditions for entry into any country as stated in our General Conditions of Carriage.”
“It has been decided to offer the full refund for your tickets as a commercial gesture. Also, as a sign of regret for this unfortunate situation a compensation of 500 CAD as a non-refundable voucher will be issued for you as soon as the bank details are received.”
The Nazareths were relieved to get their $4,900 refunded and used the funds to buy new tickets to India and are now there visiting with friends and family.
“This is such a relief for us,” said Nazareth.
It's a good reminder for anyone traveling outside of Canada to check not only what kind of documents you need for a trip, but if copies are allowed or they must be the originals as it could save you being turned back.
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