top of page

Why Travel Advisors are Essential Despite the Rise of A.I. Chatbots in the Travel Industry

In the ever-evolving landscape of travel technology, Air Canada recently found itself in hot water due to a blunder involving its artificial intelligence (A.I.) chatbot. This incident, which highlights the potential pitfalls of relying solely on automated assistance, serves as a cautionary tale for travelers navigating the complexities of modern air travel.

Enter Jake Moffatt, a traveler faced with the unfortunate task of booking a flight from Vancouver to Toronto following the passing of his grandmother in November 2022. Seeking guidance on accessing a bereavement fare—an option not universally offered by airlines—Moffatt turned to Air Canada's A.I. support chatbot on their website for assistance.

According to Moffatt's account, the chatbot assured him that Air Canada indeed provided bereavement fares and that he could retroactively apply for them after purchasing a full-fare ticket—a statement later proven to be false. Armed with this misinformation, Moffatt proceeded to book his flight, anticipating a discount on the hefty $845 one-way fare he had paid.

However, when Moffatt attempted to claim the bereavement fare a week later, armed with evidence of his conversation with the chatbot and proof of his grandmother's passing, he was met with a rude awakening. Air Canada refuted the chatbot's assurances, leaving Moffatt to foot the bill for the full fare.

In the ensuing legal battle, Air Canada argued that it could not be held accountable for the chatbot's missteps, citing it as a "separate legal entity responsible for its own actions." However, the Canadian court saw through this defense, ruling in Moffatt's favor and ordering Air Canada to compensate him for the price discrepancy.

Tribunal member Christopher Rivers underscored the airline's failure to exercise due diligence in ensuring the accuracy of its chatbot, stating, "I find Air Canada did not take reasonable care to ensure its chatbot was accurate." He further criticized the airline's reliance on customers to cross-reference information across different sections of its website, emphasizing the need for consistency and reliability in customer service.

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of human oversight in an increasingly automated world. While technology undoubtedly enhances efficiency and convenience, it cannot replace the nuanced judgment and empathy offered by human agents, especially in sensitive situations such as bereavement travel.

So, as you plan your next journey, consider seeking guidance from a trusted travel advisor or agent. Their expertise and personalized assistance can help navigate the complexities of travel, ensuring a smooth and stress-free experience—no chatbot mishaps required.

4 views0 comments


bottom of page