Friendly Skies?

First flight – delayed. Secondflight – delayed. Third flight – delayed. Fourth flight – canceled. Is it any wonder I dislike flying Air Canada?

These days though they pretty much have a monopoly on Canadian destinations. I could have found American alternatives for my recent trip to the US – at triple the cost.

My flight from Toronto to Ottawa was canceled on 12 hours notice. Staffing problems. They didn’t have a crew available. And apparently couldn’t find one anywhere. I guess Air Canada’s 21,000 employees have better things to do than fly the planes. Or maybe the pilots were the ones laid off during the pandemic. Why provide a service when you can get government handouts instead?

My beef is primarily with the people ostensibly in charge. Customer service is their responsibility. While management seem uncertain how to run an airline, at least most employees are pleasant and competent – when you can find one.
Still, I had to wonder about even that when flying from Boston to Toronto. 

No gate had been assigned when we checked in. The agent apologetically said she couldn’t tell us what would happen when we arrived in Toronto for a now non-existent flight. Someone would meet us at Pearson airport and sort things.

We almost missed he flight. How when we check ed in early? Neither Air Canada’s app, nor Logan Airport’s departures board gave any information beyond that the flight was delayed. So we sat and waited, as we had been told to do by the agent.

Only when I went to the gate I thought the flight might be leaving from, and discovered a full plane with our luggage about to be removed, did Air Canada staff think to make a boarding announcement. They apparently figured everyone would know the plane was boarding – those who had checked in later had the gate shown on their boarding passes. You’d would think they would have wondered about the dozen no-shows, which seems liek a large number to me, but apparently crtical thinking wasn’t a job requirement.

Then there was sitting on the tarmac in Toronto for an hour, making an already late flight even later. Apparently some other plane was parked at our gate and there was none other available. Can you explain this? Scheduled flight – had they not thought the landing part?

I’d ask those questions, but to whom? Air Canada has no customer service line. On Twitter I got no reply. I’m sure the reservations people don’t want to hear from me and can’t help, so I haven’t called that line.

On Twitter. I got a practically instaneous response before the flight took off – and have been ignored since then.  An email to the President and teh head of customer relations got me a case number, but no response other than that.

I gave serious thought to calling my bank and canceling the transaction. That might have gotten their attention. Probably also would not have been strictly within the bounds of legality. Air Canada could argue that they got me home, just not when we had agreed upon. Is that breach of contract? I would say so, but do I want the hassle of dealing with them in court?

Maybe I do. More than two weeks after getting home I’m still waiting to hear something from Air Canada other than a case number. When I plug that number into their system to check on the status, I am toldthat they are working on my case.

Somehow I doubt that. What work is involved? The facts are not in dispute. Under Canadian law they owe me money. A sizeable amount if I read their policies correctly.

I think perhaps they are hoping I will go away. That is not going to happen.


One comment

  1. The huge airline companies are powerful, with quite politically potent lobbyists in Ottawa to ensure their industry can mostly treat people they way that’s most profitable. …

    Also, I believe that when the coronavirus crisis began, big business was the most influential voice to have the ear of government, when it should have been the independent health-sciences community. The result was resistance against an immediate halt in non-essential travel, including international flights — weeks of delay that may have translated into many additional and needless COVID-19 deaths. I’ve heard many people ask why there were travel restrictions on car trips in Canada while international flights into Canada were basically left unhindered? I say, perhaps that’s because car travelers, unlike the airlines, don’t have very potent lobbyists in the nation’s capital, a.k.a. Parliament Hill.

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