Friday, 7 March 2014

Air Canada: You can't get there from here





Like most folks who qualify for cheap insurance, I have fond memories of travelling the world for business and pleasure, exploring the architecture of Europe, basking in the sun in the Caribbean and attending conferences in exotic climes.

I used to love air travel, couldn't get enough of it, loved that petrol smell, felt the anticipation of the rushing aircraft as it took off. Occasionally, I had a bad experience, like the time I got a cheap flight from L.A. to Ottawa only to have a four hour layover in Texas, or the time we got stuck on the tarmac on New Year's Eve, destined for Mexico, when the flight attendant threw a snit and locked himself in the bathroom.

Most of the time, I flew Air Canada and I had no quarrels with the airline. Back in the last century, tucking into the early years of this century, I proudly flew on the Canadian bird.

That was then. This is now.

Whenever I fly, which is rare these days, I try to fly another airline because Air
Canada is a big fat embarrassment, a bigger boner than even Mayor Rob Ford.

There is no customer service at Air Canada anymore. This week, my husband and his colleagues were off to Toronto on business and got to the airport on time, but just on time, to catch their flight. None of these guys are frequent flyers, it's true, though Scott had spend most of three decades in the air for his CBC job. They took their E-tickets to the E-ticket place and it refused to accept their vouchers, so they rushed to the counter where the attendant shrugged and gleefully announced to them that the gate was closed.

The business in Toronto would have to wait for another day, and another airline.

Too bad, so sad.

What, guys, are you stupid?

So they missed their flight. As did an unfortunate young man who was Costa Rica bound.

Was.

I was incensed, having gotten myself up at 4 a.m. to get the household hounds organized. They don't like change, you see, so if Scott gets up for a business trip, so do I.

I posted on Twitter about the incident and immediately got a reply from Air Canada's robotic social media person, who obviously has had a lot of experience with irate customers and bad reviews concerning the airline's customer service.

In a strict nanny tone, the social media thingy admonished me, reminding me that everyone should be at the airport ninety-minutes before a flight. Call me stupid, but this seems entirely unreasonable considering these blokes had no luggage and were flying from Ottawa to Toronto.

A lot of people simply put up with no food, bad behavior and worse customer service. Time was, airlines bent over backwards to keep your business. Well, Air Canada just lost ours to West Jet.

It just reminded me why I don't fly anymore, especially when I can drive or take the train. It's so expensive and inconvenient to fly. The weather sucks, and you're lucky to even get to your destination.

There are some airlines, like West Jet, who appear to understand that they are in the business of taking care of people, not just moving them. Air Canada just doesn't get it.

Sigh.

Flying used to be fun.

Now it's just another chore, an experience to endure.

Like most people who qualify for cheap insurance, I long for the old days.

When Don Draper smoked and air travel was cool.

Now even the bus is looking better than taking Air Canada.

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