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Paradise lost for St. Albert couple

A St.

A St. Albert couple that lost their Alaska Airlines plane tickets after deciding to change their baby’s diaper before boarding a flight found out Monday the airline will reimburse them the $1,000 they paid to make alternative travel arrangements.

Last month Colleen Roberge, Dan Blais and their eight-month old son Levi were returning to Edmonton from Las Vegas, via Seattle and had made it to their gate with more than 20 minutes to spare, according to Roberge.

They were about to board the flight when Roberge noticed her son needed to be changed.

“I made the decision to change him in the nearby washroom. It was very close and my husband went to speak to the agent,” said Roberge.

According to her, the flight attendant told Blais he had “two minutes” to get back to the gate.

Roberge said her husband came to the washroom to tell her to hurry up.

Numerous attempts were made to page the couple over the airport’s PA system, according to Bobbie Egan, a spokesperson with the airline.

Upon returning to the gate, Roberge said the attendant told her that her ticket had been given away but that Blais could still board the flight. When he refused to leave his wife and child behind, his ticket was given away to a passenger on standby.

When she asked the attendant why her ticket had been given away, Roberge said the attendant repeatedly told her she was following company policy.

While flying standby was an option for the couple, Roberge said they were told it could take up to several days to get on a flight.

Eventually the couple looked to other airlines and found a flight to Edmonton on WestJet the next day.

The couple paid $1,038 to purchase two tickets on that flight as well as other costs to replace some of the items in their luggage, which had left on the flight to Seattle.

Upon her return to St. Albert, Roberge said she made numerous calls to Alaska Airlines’ customer service department. Eventually she said she was offered two $400 travel vouchers that expired in one year.

Next Roberge called the company’s corporate office and when two weeks passed without a reply, the couple decided to go public with their concerns with a blog called Alaska Airlines Hates Families.

On Monday, shortly before speaking to the Gazette, Roberge said the couple finally received the answer they were looking for in a phone call from Ray Prentice, director of Customer Advocacy at Alaska Airlines.

“He apologized and he said that he will give us the $1,000 reimbursement in the form of a cheque,” said Roberge. “In the end, we got the result that we were looking for. It was good.”

Egan told the Gazette the company has fully investigated the incident and has concluded the attendant correctly followed company procedure.

“We do ask passengers to arrive at their gate, in Las Vegas its 40 minutes prior to the flight given the security screening and distance to the terminal. Most other airports, it’s 30 minutes prior to the flight’s departure.”