Toronto family out $8,000 after infant daughter’s Air Canada booking goes wrong

A Toronto family returning from a trip to Iran had to spend almost $8,000 in extra tickets and expenses because of a mix-up that prevented their infant daughter from getting a boarding pass.

“The guy told me ‘your ticket has an issue,’” said Amir Chegini, explaining the response at the British Airways ticket counter in Tehran on Oct. 27 last year.


Chegini, his wife Tannaz and nine-month-old daughter Niki were returning from Iran after a vacation when suddenly they faced an intractable problem: British Airways refused to permit their daughter on the aircraft, even though both parents had valid tickets and their daughter’s name appears on the tickets and itinerary.

“They said the Air Canada record doesn’t match the British Airways record,” said Chegini, explaining the first of several conversations at the airport.

Chegini booked his entire trip on the Air Canada website. He paid a total of $9,969 for business class travel which included flights from Toronto to Paris on Air Canada, Frankfurt to Tehran on Lufthansa, and return legs from Tehran to London on British Airways, and a London to Toronto flight on Air Canada.

The outgoing flights were not a problem. But in Tehran, the family faced a serious challenge when it came to their daughter who, because of her age, didn’t require her own seat.

“I can see her name but it doesn’t match our record — we can’t issue a boarding pass for her,” Chegini says he was told over and over. At one point, the agent joked that at least part of the family could go ahead.

“They told me you and your wife don’t have a problem, you can board the plane, but you have to leave your child here,” he said.


Toronto family out $8,000 after infant daughter’s Air Canada booking goes wrong

Over the Limit: Alcohol is a factor in many violent crimes

On March 12, Mark Jante, a 59-year-old Middlesex Township man, called 911 to report that he had stabbed someone and was in need of medical attention.

When police arrived on the scene they found Jante covered in blood, and the victim — a man Jante referred to as his “buddy” — bleeding from his back, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office.

The victim died as a result of injuries, and Jante became the first of two people charged with criminal homicide in Cumberland County in 2017.

While killings are rare in the county, there is one factor of the crime Jante is accused of that has become common in the commission of violent crimes: alcohol.

When police spoke to Jante on the scene, they reported he smelled of alcohol. Jante, who has been held in Cumberland County Prison without bail since the attack, told police he had been drinking with the victim all day, according to the affidavit.

Alcohol and violence

“Any situation where there’s a potential for violence, you add alcohol and it’s like adding gasoline to a lit fire,” said David Jernigan, associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Between 2006 and 2010, alcohol was a key factor in more than 300 homicides in Pennsylvania according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those 300 people account for more than 14,000 years of potential life lost in the state, according to the CDC.

The CDC reports that alcohol played a pivotal role in nearly half of all homicides and nearly a quarter of all suicides in Pennsylvania.

Alcohol is so prevalent in the commission of violent crimes that domestic assaults fell roughly 9 percent after North Dakota instituted a program that aimed to keep repeat DUI defendants abstinent from alcohol.

Jernigan said there are two main factors why alcohol is so prevalent in violence.

One he said is physiological through a disinhibiting effect, meaning a person may make decisions while under the influence of alcohol that they would not otherwise.

“Alcohol basically disables judgment,” he said. “That’s one of the effects it has on the brain.”

A person who may be prone to violence, but is able to control those tendencies when sober, may not be able to when drinking.

Jernigan said the disinhibiting effect is also amplified by a social expectation that alcohol will act this way.

“Expectancies change when people are drinking,” he said.

Jernigan said in studies in which people are given nonalcoholic beverages but are told the drinks contain alcohol, the participants will disinhibit despite being completely sober.

Giving teens alcohol to teach them responsible drinking may backfire

It’s common to hear about parents giving their teens alcohol, hoping that if they learn about responsible drinking at home they’ll be less likely to binge drink when they’re on their own. But a new study suggests that this method doesn’t seem to protect teens from the risks of alcohol abuse.

Australia scientists followed 2,000 teens for six years and found that parents providing alcohol not only doesn’t prevent binge drinking, it was actually linked to teens finding alcohol through other sources. The study, the first to analyze the long-term effect of parents providing alcohol, was published this week in the journal Lancet Public Health.

Every year for six years, teens and their parents filled out different surveys about alcohol habits. The survey asked about alcohol abuse symptoms, binge drinking levels, and how the teens got alcohol. To be clear, “binge” drinking was defined as drinking more than four drinks at once, which the authors acknowledge is a somewhat conservative estimate. And the sources of alcohol included parents, not from parents, and both.

The teenagers in the study were, on average, 13 years old at the beginning and 18 at the end. Unsurprisingly, more parents gave alcohol to their children as the children aged — from 15 percent of parents at the beginning of the study, to about 60 percent at the end.

By the end of the study, 81 percent of teens who received alcohol both from their parents and other sources were binge drinking. In contrast, 62 percent of teens who only got it from other people (and were not given alcohol by their parents) were binge drinking. (Also, 25 percent of teens who were given alcohol only by their parents binged, which is a strange finding.) And teens who got alcohol only from their parents one year were twice as likely to get it from other people the next year.

This is an observational study, so it can’t prove that giving alcohol to your kid causes them to seek it out and binge. There are other limitations too: Self-reported surveys are rarely the most accurate way to measure anything. Teens from low socio-economic status backgrounds weren’t well-represented, and the results are from Australia, and we don’t know how broadly they generalize. Still, it’s an interesting result, and it’s worth thinking about how it’s possible for some well-meaning tactics to backfire.

Americans are less comfortable with LGBTQ people now than they were

A new study released by GLAAD on Thursday found a “significant decline in overall comfort and acceptance of LGBTQ people.” This marks the first time in this particular study’s four-year history that the numbers have declined.

The survey, conducted by Harris Insights and Analytics, is an online poll that measures the American public’s views on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and issues. Through a series of questions, non-LGBTQ people are asked to rate their comfort level in various situations involving LGBTQ people — from LGBTQ weddings to school curriculum that includes LGBTQ history.

In every single situation, comfort level declined from last year. Three areas where discomfort showed a “significant increase” were “learning a family member is LGBTQ,” “learning my child’s teacher is LGBTQ,” and “learning my doctor is LGBTQ.” The backward step included a reduced number of “allies” (non-LGBTQ respondents who were either “very” or “somewhat” comfortable in all situations) and increased number of “detached supporters” (non-LGBTQ respondents whose comfort level varied).

Study Makes Parents Think Twice About Giving Their Teens Alcohol

While some parents believe that giving their teens alcohol helps them to drink responsibly, a large groundbreaking study says otherwise.

With prom and graduation season just around the corner, parents everywhere are considering which parties to allow their teens to attend. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among underage drinkers, 86% had consumed alcohol in their house or in someone else’s home.

Some parents support the notion of teens drinking in the home, claiming that they can monitor the amount of alcohol consumed. These parents argue that adolescents are going to drink regardless, so they would rather have them drinking at home where they are safe.  For other parents, it’s a matter of teaching their children to drink responsibly before they head off, unmonitored, to college.

Other parents point to Europe, where the drinking age is lower and teens are rumored to be more responsible around alcohol. However, experts say that there is heavier drinking in Europe, so that argument does not hold up.

While parents may feel supportive of teen drinking, many state laws disagree. The majority of states have enacted social host liabilities, holding adults responsible for any injuries that occur when alcohol is consumed on their property.

Related: Does More Advertising Equal More Teen Drinking?

In a new groundbreaking six-year study out of Australia, researchers have found that parents who give their teens alcohol may be doing more harm than good.

“Our study is the first to analyze parental supply of alcohol and its effects in detail in the long term, and finds that it is, in fact, associated with risks when compared to teenagers not given alcohol,” said lead author Richard Mattick. “This reinforces the fact that alcohol consumption leads to harm, no matter how it is supplied. We advise that parents should avoid supplying alcohol to their teenagers if they wish to reduce their risk of alcohol-related harms.”

The study followed approximately 1,900 parents and teens ages 12-18 years old in three major Australian cities. Roughly 15 percent of parents provided alcohol to the younger teens.  By the time the teens were 18, nearly 60 percent of parents were giving alcohol to their children.

While accounting for factors such as gender, age, and household income, the study found that children who were provided alcohol by their parents had 2.58 times the odds of binge-drinking the following year, compared to their peers who were not supplied alcohol.

Related: Report Reveals American Teens are Safer Than in Recent Decades 

Further, for the teens who were provided alcohol by their parents as well as by other sources, 81 percent reported binge drinking, defined as consuming more than four drinks at a time.  Comparatively, 62 percent of teens who received alcohol from sources other than their parents reported binge drinking.

The study also found that teens who were supplied alcohol by their parents one year were twice as likely to get it elsewhere the following year.

“Parents, policy makers, and clinicians need to be made aware that parental provision of alcohol is associated with risk, not with protection, to reduce the extent of parental supply in high-income countries, and in low-middle-income countries that are increasingly embracing the consumption of alcohol,” Mattick said in the news release.