MONTREAL -- I flew on Air Canada (AC) from New York to Geneva, Switzerland with a connection in Montreal. This was not a pleasure trip but was due to my 89-year old mother falling and breaking her foot.
I chose Air Canada because: 1. They don't charge for a second suitcase. British Airways charge as high as $75 I believe. 2. They were $100 cheaper than Swiss; however Swiss fly non-stop. 3. I get full mileage credit on my United mileage plus account. 4. The ticket is valid 3 months with a change of date fee of $150. This compares to as high as $250 on Lufthansa.
Newark to Montreal: Check-in was quick and efficient at Newark. AC use smaller Canadair and Embraer commuter aircraft between New York and Montreal/Toronto. These planes have less room and are somewhat noisy. All that is served on this sector are nuts and a drink. As I checked in I was calm and relaxed knowing that I had 3 hours connection time in Montreal. I noticed that the flight to Toronto was delayed for 1 hour due to bad weather between the US and Canada.
Our flight was delayed by 2 1/2 hours. And even though it was clear we would miss our connection no effort was made to put us on another flight to Europe from Newark; for example Lufthansa had a flight to Munich. I was upgraded to Business Class; 3 seats instead of 4. We were served nuts and a drink on a 1 hour 15 minute flight. When we arrived a wagon was waiting to rush us to the gate. We had to pass Canadian Customs which was quick. However the door to the gates was shut and by looking at the board, I realized that my flight to Geneva had just left 5 minutes ago.
I had to wait in line about 30 minutes to pass passport control and then pick up my luggage. It was already 10 PM by now. I was offered a hotel room and $30 in vouchers for dinner, breakfast and lunch. I was put on an 8 pm flight to Frankfurt resulting in a 2 PM arrival in Geneva; 28 hours late. I asked the agent "What about routing me through Zurich?", as I knew AC are partners with Swiss Airlines. She looked at me as if I was an idiot. "Why would you want to go through Zurich?"
Later I found out that had she routed me on Swiss Airlines I would have gotten to Geneva at 8AM instead of 2 PM and avoided Frankfurt Airport which is a terrible airport. Long walks, confusing signage and slow, slow, slow security personnel who work in "slow motion" with insufficient staff. Gripe 1: No effort was made in Newark to get us to Europe the next day. Gripe 2: No effort was made in Montreal to get me to Geneva as quickly as possible.
Air Canada are in the same alliance as Lufthansa and Swiss and in fact codeshare with Swiss from Montreal. So they should have transferred us to Lufthansa at Newark or at least put me on Swiss from Montreal. Their aim is to keep you on Air Canada no matter what. I was put up at the Hilton Gardens near the airport. It was a nice hotel and I was lucky. Others were put up at the Travelodge, a 40-year old hotel which did not look all that nice.
Montreal to Frankfurt: The plane was a 777. The seats were comfortable, good legroom, good entertainment system which was easy to use. The crew were well-groomed and very friendly. They also gave us a newspaper.
Mood lighting: this is the "new thing." Low lighting which in our case was bluish. Interesting but what I did not like was that they put it on the moment you board. I want to full lighting till after dinner. I find a dark cabin depressing unless it's sleep time.
Meal: Mediocre. Beginning salad and main dish were acceptable. But the desert was a cheap chocolate brownie which tasted disgusting. Also no cheese with the meal which I always like as it fills me up with the bread. I would have thought that a flight operating from "French Quebec" would have some cheese. Breakfast was very good. A large banana muffin with delicious coffee from a company called "Second Cup." In fact it was so good I had a "second cup."
The return trip: Geneva to Montreal: The plane was a 767. I had changed my return date twice for a fee of $150 for each change. Even though AC only operate 4 times a week I was impressed that they accepted to change the return dates without paying even more. The seating was comfortable. However the seat pocket in front of me had not been cleaned. I found a dirty napkin, plastic and in the seat pocket next to me a dirty stirrer. Though my flight was in mid-November the in-flight magazine was from October. Three seats away I found a November issue.
The meal was again mediocre: edible salad and main dish. The desert was disgusting. A milky creamy white liquid with a peach. The peach was edible. Again no cheese. I was not very satisfied. The snack was insufficient for an 8-hour flight. A small spinach thingy-mig-gig with not much spinach in it.
Montreal to New York: I had to pass US Customs in Montreal which I don't like. I prefer to do that in New York. We had to wait a lot. You don't get to see the suitcases. They take a picture of the suitcases. The flight was in a small Embraer commuter plane; noisy and bumpy. Somewhat narrow seats. Lost suitcase: I arrived in New York and to my lovely surprise one suitcase was missing. After 2 months Air Canada informed me that the suitcase is now officially lost. At the beginning I had to communicate with agents in India who had no clue what was going on. I gave up bothering calling them.
I am convinced that the suitcase was stolen. I had a permanent leather address tag on the top handle and 2 paper address tags; one was Air Canada and the other American Airlines. And on the side I had another American Airlines tag. Though I had $4,500 worth of clothes/shoes/coats in the suitcase, Air Canada wrote me the following:
They are liable for up to $1,600 in losses as per the Warsaw Convention. Because I could only prove a few hundred dollars of purchases from my receipts, they would only offer me $1,167 and 41 cents. I love the 41 cents. Question: Who keeps 5 years of receipts on clothes they buy? Pathetic excuse. I admitted in my application that I had Homeowners Insurance. So I was told by Air Canada to go to my own insurance company. They made it seem as if it was my fault that the suitcase was lost. It reminded me of rape victims who get blamed for getting raped.
Conclusion: I don't consider Air Canada to be in the "major leagues." True the weather delay was not their fault but the lack of any attempt to get me to Geneva as quickly as possible was. Losing a bag can happen but to lose it "permanently" is to me unbelievable. It happens very rarely. In fact I don't know anybody who has gone through this experience. They usually find the lost suitcases after a few days. I had stress in both directions.
The people who work for this airline, the ground crew, air crew and reservations agents were all great; (except for the employee who may have stolen my suitcase, though I have no proof of that); I don't think I will risk flying with them again even if I get a free ticket. To have to replace all my stuff is going to be a tremendous hassle. Because I thought I may have to stay as long as 2 months I had taken all my nice things with me.
Lesson: Buy sufficient luggage insurance as you never know what can happen. Try to fly non-stop if you can. It greatly reduces the risk of lost luggage. Pass Customs at your final destination not in between; in Canada in my case. It also reduces the risk of lost luggage.
CALGARY ALBERTA, ARIZONA -- We booked our flights only a few weeks before flying. We were never informed of any policy regarding medical clearance. I clearly told every person I spoke to, the booking agent, and the subsequent 2 phone calls I made about my allergy. No mention of the fact that I need to take some action prior to flying was ever passed along. I was made to feel as if we were a huge inconvenience. A stressful situation was made extremely horrible because of the complete failure of the staff. I felt like I needed to pass this information along, although judging from other posts regarding Air Canada's customer service, I doubt it will be given any consideration.
I am sure you have heard this before, but I will never give you my money again! Just a note: Any allergy can become life-threatening at any time without prior notice. Any person who has even had a mild allergic reaction to nuts, milk, eggs etc. can go into fatal anaphylactic shock the next time they are exposed. New allergies can occur at any time as well. On your site, when you say people with "severe allergies", you are misinformed about allergies. If you have qualified medical doctors reviewing the information, then they are misinformed. Ask an allergist or allergy specialist.
Although I have never had anaphylactic reactions to nuts on a plane, it does not mean that I can be complacent. The only thing I realized after this atrocious situation was that Air Canada is protecting it's own hide and has no interest in customer service or basic human compassion. Allergies are already a disability someone has to deal with daily.
You can surely understand why someone would not want a reaction to food (that could have easily been replaced with something else), when they have no access to medical attention. And to address the response that it is an infringement to others' rights, it is an infringement to my rights not to be allowed to fly in a safe environment. Like I mention in the blog, I have never asked for any extraordinary measures to be made. And to address the response that other people are free to bring their own bags of nuts on the plane, I say yes they are. And I am free to ask them to refrain from eating them.
If they refuse to comply, I should have the opportunity to move seats, or they can be relocated. It is a matter of health, and I have to be able to advocate on my own behalf. The only concession I require is that nuts not be served near me. I usually bring along enough snacks for everyone in the adjacent rows as well. I have no problem letting people know that their very small sacrifice of going nut-free on the plane is greatly appreciated. There are some excellent nut-free trail mixes, cookies, crackers and granola bars available. There is no reason the airlines could not use these products.
Air Canada has turned me off flying for good. Unfortunately, I am overseas and terrified to board a plane again after the horrible treatment of the Air Canada staff. I have a peanut allergy and have flown many times on many different airlines without incident. Sometimes flight staff are helpful, sometimes not. I was appalled at the atrocious treatment we received on our flight from Calgary to Los Angeles. I was flying from Calgary to Brisbane, with a plane/airline change in Los Angeles. I had my husband and 2 children with me as we were moving overseas. I had made all necessary precautions.
I had called the airline twice prior to leaving to ensure a note was on my ticket about the allergy. I never ask for unreasonable actions to be taken, like making the entire flight nut-free. I know that is not reasonable or possible. I don't even care if they make an announcement, I can inform people near me if I need to. All I need them to know is I have an allergy, where I am seated, and that I require they don't serve nuts near me. I will worry about the rest myself. I always have.
Upon entering the plane, I informed the first flight staff about the allergy and my seat number. She looked annoyed and asked me if I had an epipen with me. I always bring 2 on long flights, just in case. That is when things went sideways. Next thing I know the plane is completely full, and a very abrasive woman comes with a large manual to point very aggressively at a statement about their policies. She informs me and my family that we are to disembark the plane immediately as I never received medical clearance to fly. I was stunned. This had never happened before. We gathered our things and left the plane. I was visibly upset.
I was trying to ask her questions as we proceeded back to the terminal. She informed my husband that he needed to "calm me down" or we would be escorted from the airport. I was never told that I needed medical clearance to fly. I was trying to hold it together. My kids were getting upset as well. We explained that we had a connecting flight to Brisbane, and had just travelled from Halifax, and had nowhere to go. They were going to "try" and get me the medical clearance. They let us on the plane again, but then shortly after, we were told to leave again. Then, they let us back on the plane again.
I signed a waiver that if I died it was not Air Canada's fault. Then they said we had to get off the plane again. They kept asking if I had ever had a reaction on a flight before. I kept repeating that I had not. Three times! Everyone on the small flight is looking at us. Everyone is angry. The plane is very late already. They tell us WE are delaying the plane too long and people will miss their connecting flights. I KNOW, we are about to miss ours! We are standing in the terminal in disbelief. By this time my kids and I are all very unhappy. My husband is very angry. They have removed our luggage from the plane for the third time.
Then someone yells that I have clearance and can board. We are rushed on the plane, but not before we are inadvertently told that the note on my file that stated I had a nut allergy was in fact CLEARLY written on my ticket. There should have been no confusion. If they required medical clearance, they did not tell me. Here is the final kicker. As we are walking down to board the plane for the fourth time, my husband said something along the lines of "this is **." Not appropriate, but I think that was rather restrained considering. All of a sudden we are surrounded by security staff that insist we apologize to the Air Canada staff or we won't be allowed to fly.
The flight attendant is bawling, like we have done her a great injustice. We are forced to apologize. She won't even look at me the entire flight. When we finally get seated again. I can't even speak because I am so upset. I sit and stare straight ahead for 3 hours. I am appalled at the treatment we received. The announcement made by the pilot was equally disturbing. He said it was not Air Canada's fault, it was a policy they had to follow. If it is not their fault, whose fault could it possibly be?
And of course there is always some ignorant person on the plane who very loudly states, "All this for a stupid nut allergy, just kick them off." As if I have any control over having an allergy. If I had the choice I would obviously get rid of it. I was born with it, and will die with it, hopefully not on a plane though.
TERRACE, WASHINGTON -- I have never in the past taken the time to write to Air Canada as it has always been my understanding that customer service is your lowest priority. I should mention that as a rule I avoid travelling with your company, yet, I have managed to become a Prestige member of Aeroplan. A status that I have just found out also mean absolutely nothing, but for now, I will cover the major reasons for writing. Now, I should explain that for the most part I suffer the normal abysmal service of Air Canada, as my fellow passengers do, and is a point of great humour to discuss what new levels of low service can achieved with your efforts.
I won't for example expect an answer to why a flight attendant, after seating us on an early morning flight out of Vancouver on the way to Terrace deciding that cooking and eating his breakfast was more important than getting his customers a cup of coffee. Mind you we all enjoyed the smell of his freshly microwaved food as it flooded the plane while we sat with dry mouths and caffeine withdrawal.
Nor will I expect you to tell me why I had to be ignored while one of your flight attendants decided it was more important to complain in explicit language how incompetent the staff in the terminal was to the flight crew. Such things are just the day to day operation of Air Canada. What I will complain about was my trip from hell last week, and the even longer trip for my baggage. It all started in Ft St John, B. C. at about 9 am local time, January 30th, 2009. I was booked on Flight 8184. A very nice lady at the counter told me the aircraft was 'mechanical' and would be late or maybe cancelled. I appreciated knowing that, but that is par for the course.
She told me there would be an announcement. Well, I sat with phone in hand to make the usual rearrangements of my day, only to hear…absolutely nothing. Finally, we get told the aircraft has landed. Just as well it did if it was mechanical don't you think? It would have been nice if someone would have said something, but what the heck, it's only Air Canada. We made Vancouver on time, and I actually got lunch, so we are doing well.
I now board flight 8242 for Terrace, and as always I called my wife to say we are away on time, just before I leave the holding area. At which time we sit on the plane for 45 minutes without a clue what is happening, only to find out there is a weather advisory on this flight. Well, I can't hold weather against you (maybe). Halfway to Terrace the pilot advises us he is turning around for Safety reasons.
In the mean time, my wife is waiting for me in Terrace, where she sees the flight is going to be late (not cancelled or anything). She does see other aircraft landing from other airlines (the ones I much prefer travelling with). So she leaves, as do all the others people waiting. Everyone there believe the flight will be in at 4 pm, only it's actually on the ground in Vancouver at this time, and no one in Terrace says anything, or changes the screens. I did call her shortly after, so she didn't make the unnecessary trip but you can bet lots of people did. Now I am told since this is a weather issue, everyone is 'on their own' for hotels.
I am one of the lucky ones that gets a ticket for the evening flight. However, we are told the baggage is going to be deplaned, and sent to the baggage area outside of security and we needed to go and get it, check it back in again, and then go back through security. How utterly customer friendly this move is! But wait, there's more; the six of us wait for OVER 1 HOUR to collect our baggage so we can give it back to you! The result is by the time we checked in again, went thought security again, we are almost late for the flight we have been booked on, which is flight 8244.
Remember that lunch I got? Well my stomach had forgotten by then, but I have no time to get anything as I dash for the flight. Oh well, I am sure I can have a bag of pretzels for dinner. We get back on the plane, and of course there is another weather advisory, but what the heck, I have missed my evening appointment anyway. (If I had travelled with Hawkair I would have arrived twice already). We take off, we get there, and miracle upon miracle we land. We get off the plane and line up for our baggage. WHAT BAGGAGE? You guessed it; our baggage had been taken off.
By the way, that would be the same baggage we had to go get outside of security after waiting over an hour. IF someone had made a simple courtesy announcement, we at least would have gone home mad, and not sat around for 30 minutes waiting for bags that weren't there. I stand in line. I tell my story, and I am told my bags would be delivered to my home the next day. So, on Saturday, I wait around for my bags, as they won't deliver if I am not home. Guess what… no bags. I wait all day...and nothing.
On Sunday I call... and I call, and I call... In the afternoon I get through, and am told my bags are in Prince Rupert, but they can't get them to Terrace. But, they will get them on the night bus (Greyhound), and if I want, I can drive out to Greyhound to get them at 10:30 at night. I said "Forget it... Tomorrow is now fine." Do you think I got my bags on Monday? Hell no. Monday morning I am on the phone again, and this time no one knows. OH, I will get a call very soon when they find out. Do you think I got a call? Silly you... of course not. The bags showed up on Monday afternoon.
At no time did I get a call, an apology, anything that would suggest Air Canada gave a damn. So I guess they don't. It's no wonder that the local community up here is desperate to get Westjet in. I have heard that Air Canada customer service mantra is 'Please let us know if we haven't done enough to p*ss you off.' Let me assure you, you did. I almost forgot the Prestige thing... I was so pleased with the Business Class upgrade certificates, so I should have known there was a catch. I fly for business short haul, but I fly to Ottawa as a volunteer for a major sport organization, and I fly Tango class to save the members money. (Usually a weekend only trip).
I had hoped these coupons would make my weekend trips bearable. I guess not, as they only work on Latitude or better. Still, they sure do look pretty sitting on my fridge. If by chance you actually read this far down and my efforts don't wind up in the shredder, I sure would like to know why you think I should ever give you my money, and just what do you think will happen when no one flies with you. I know for a fact, I don't know one single person who doesn't avoid your airline. Sincerely Frustrated.
WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA -- I have had previous unpleasant traveling experiences with Air Canada in 2000 and 2003. However, I simply figured that it was a long time ago and perhaps isolated incidents and decided to give it another try. I booked a flight that connected through Montreal to Heathrow from Washington DC. There were some weather-related delays and I was told I would have to now fly to Toronto instead of Montreal. I agreed and after a few hours delay and several very unpleasant encounters with Air Canada staff I arrived in London only to find out that my bags had never made it.
I wasn't able to receive my luggage until Christmas day, in the afternoon. I was upset about this, but understood that sometimes these things happen. My flight returning on January 10th was also delayed but no one notified any of the passengers of this until after the scheduled departure time, at which point I inquired whether or not I would be able to make my connecting flight. I was treated as if it was my fault that the plane was delayed and was given abrupt and rude replies and made to feel that I wasn't worthy of a proper answer. After a 2-hour delay the plane was finally ready for take-off.
When we got closer to our destination the pilot informed us that passengers heading to Baltimore would have to spend the night in Toronto. I was distraught but again knew that there was nothing I could do about it. When we arrived in Toronto, I was informed that if I were to rush I'd make the connecting flight to Baltimore. I inquired about my bags, and very rudely I was told that they would not make it and that they would be delivered once the plane arrived, which would be the next day because there was no longer any flights to Baltimore. I was told to head to my gate and when I asked which way to go I was told to read the sign.
At this point, I was tired, and extremely frustrated with the Air Canada staff. There was a fellow passenger who was experiencing the same frustrations and shared with me that this happens to her almost every time she flies with Air Canada. I vowed to never fly Air Canada again and made my way to the gate. Once I arrived at Baltimore International Airport, I headed to baggage claim to give my information for my luggage. There was no one there so we had to wait for a man to show up and tell us that he's not an employee of Air Canada but a contractor. He said he'll be delivering our luggage and for us to fill out a form.
I verified again when our bags would arrive and was told that it would be the next day at the earliest. I rushed to get out of the airport because I had a dinner engagement I had to get to and I was already running very late. I had left my mobile phone at home because I didn't want any interruptions and I wasn't expecting a phone call. However, my cousin informed me that she had received a message on her phone from a man claiming he had my luggage and was outside my house (I had given her number as an alternate number). I called him back only to have him YELL at me saying that the reason phone numbers are given is so you can be reached at anytime.
I tried to reason with him by telling him that unless my bags were on the same plane I was on, it couldn't have arrived. He said it had arrived and that he was now on his way back to the airport and that he would have to deliver my bags the next day at an unspecified time. I begged and pleaded with him that he come back and he finally agreed to meet me at my house in 20 minutes. I explained to him that I was in the middle of having dinner 2 miles from my house. However would be able to meet him outside and get my bags from him. He agreed, but said if he didn't see me outside that he'd leave and would not come back.
I was amazed to be treated this way after all I had gone through that day with the airline, but still I went outside after 20 minutes because I didn't want to miss him. It was raining, cold and I had no umbrella but I waited patiently at a major intersection next to the traffic light. When I called him, he again YELLED at me and said that I had to wait and that he'd call when he got there. He finally called stating he couldn't see me. I asked him to describe the vehicle he was in, and he said a van but refused to elaborate. He was belligerent and extremely unprofessional.
After 15-20 minutes of me standing and walking in the rain in heels, in the middle of having dinner, he finally arrived. He of course did not have my bags, but mistakenly had somebody else's and had a very nonchalant attitude offering no apology. I was furious and the rest of my evening was effectively ruined. I was so mad I cried. My luggage was finally delivered the next day at a later time than I was told and with no choice I had to of course wait for it. I wrote the tag number of the rudest human being I've had the misfortune to cross paths with but I was so disheartened I didn't even have the desire to place a complaint.
However, I decided to do so now as I am still angry and don't want anyone to have to go through what I went through. I travel to Canada and to Europe very often and though delays and cancellations can and do happen, mistreatment should not. This was by far the worst experience I've ever had to endure and will make sure to inform friends, family and acquaintances to select another airline.
VANCOUVER, BC -- AIR CANADA – to Los Angeles – NOT! Attempt to travel to Los Angeles from Vancouver on New Year's EVE via AIR CANADA was ended when the pilot had me removed from the plane. It was his decision that I needed a medical certificate to fly after having a coughing reaction to perfume as we just started to back out after the plane loaded.
I had fully recovered – was seen to by AIR CANADA STAFF and by ambulance paramedics who agreed that I was fine but the captain of AIR CANADA FLIGHT 554 on December 31, 2005, decided that I would not fly on his plane. That began another host of unfortunate events which saw not only that I did not have my vacation, but that I did not return home until almost midnight without having had any meals or beverages (except a coffee with **, the only saving grace that AIR CANADA can claim), no access to my medications that were in my luggage, and not much empathy from a clearly overworked and very tired staff.
I booked my ticket through Air Canada's and since there is no avenue for identifying my special needs, I spoke to a ticket agent by telephone as I booked it so I could make sure I could be seated with my attendant, let them know I used a wheelchair for mobility, and that I was extremely allergic to perfume. This information was, as far as I know recorded in my file. When we arrived at the first counter, I again let them know about my special needs and my allergies. I wear a double medical mask to protect myself as best I can from inhaling the particles.
At Vancouver Airport all passengers are forced to go through the DUTY FREE store in order to go through Customs where there are many perfume molecules in the air, so this is the first place my lungs became agitated. At the counter at the gate I once again identified my problems and special needs to the agent at the desk who said to make sure to let the purser know. Since I use a wheelchair, I promised I would tell the staff when I was preboarded. I immediately let the staff know and they seemed accommodating.
At every turn I was honest and informative with Air Canada staff letting them know what might happen and that I had medication to handle the situation should it arise - and that I may need Emergency Oxygen should the reaction be severe. I even explained a previous experience to one flight attendant. She nodded in understanding. It was not until one of last three passengers boarded that I experienced some respiratory distress, took out my ventolin, coughed (as I do when reacting) and chewed a Benadryl.
The flight attendant asked if she could help and I said Oxygen would help (as it clears the chemical from my lungs, and is not the systemic and dangerous jolt that epinephrine –the epipen, would provide - which is really more medicine that I needed for that reaction). Within seconds I was fine… but the decision to end my flight was made. My holiday was ruined and the flight of the rest of the passengers was delayed while that poor decision was made. **, an Air Canada ground employee, decided to try valiantly to save my holiday, but was given wrong information by her own company all along the way.
First she was told that my family physician could FAX in a medical clearance so we managed to get hold of the doctor, get her FAXED the necessary forms, which she prepared to FAX to the MEDICAL DESK at AIR CANADA. After wasting my doctor's time and energy, it turned out she would be required to examine me again at that time to determine my fitness to travel, which was not feasible since I was at the airport and she was a 4-hour round trip away (and it was New Year's EVE!).
Meanwhile, the medical clinic at the airport which had been open when this fiasco began was now closed so that option disappeared while my poor doctor was attempting to get clearance for me. More phone calls were made. A promise was made to let my travelling partner know I would be coming to meet him the next morning – he did not receive any messages from Air Canada when he deplaned in Los Angeles – nor did he get any message on the flight before he deplaned. He had no idea they were working on saving the vacation for me.
By this time all the walk-in clinics in Richmond had closed and I had to go to Richmond Hospital Emergency Clinic to get clearance to fly. I arrived there at 4:30 and saw a doctor at 6:15 and had the needed note in my hand by 6:30. **, from AIR CANADA, had arranged for me to stay for $82.00 plus tax at a nearby hotel so I could fly out in the morning. I agreed that it might be a worthy investment to save my holiday. AIR CANADA did not offer to pay this expense. The hotel was near the hospital but it was raining and cold and dark so I could not wheel myself to this hotel. Wheelchair taxis were averaging over an hour wait.
The hotel said they would come and pick me up. I had a contact at the hotel named ** who kept promising they would pick me up shortly – I communicated several times with him by cell phone – which meant I had to exit the hospital into the cold night air as cell phones are not allowed at Richmond hospital. I also was now unable to get hold of anyone at the MEDA desk number ** had given me for AIR CANADA – I just got a recording every time I called. (My cell phone records will document all my outbound calls.)
If I did fly out, I would have no way of connecting with my partner… I phoned the hotel again - I finally gave them my cell number – still no one came. At 8:30 I called again in tears and was given the hotel manager who said he knew nothing about it and would send someone – I asked them to bring my luggage to the hospital then phoned my son to come and get me and take me home to Anmore. I arrived home just after 11:30 PM.
OUT OF FT MYERS, FLORIDA -- My husband and I purchased tickets to Copenhagen from Raleigh NC, flying on June 16th. We booked this flight way in advance to Coincide with my granddaughter's graduation in NC. He is Danish and we take this flight or one like it every summer. On the 12th of June I found out I had to have exploratory surgery for blockage of the common bile duct. This was scary but what happened next was actually worse. We had originally tried to book our flight through Air Canada but because they had been located through Orbitz we were referred by Air Canada back to Orbitz. When I called Orbitz to get the refund I was on the phone to India for nine hours.
We were in the car driving so I just let the phone sit beside me while they screwed around. Orbitz said Air Canada would not give me a credit even though I had a doctor's written excuse. Air Canada said it was Orbitz that would not give the credit. Orbitz could not call me back while they chatted with Air Canada because they said they could not call out. I had to wait on the phone with awful music playing. Air Canada was not reachable. My husband has repurchased his ticket through Air Berlin. Paying for it himself. I am still not able to fly but plan to go to Denmark Aug. 1st. My husband and I are out $2600 because I had to have surgery! I would think this was illegal.
They might have refunded my money if I could choose a change of time right then, before the surgery before I knew if I had cancer, before any of this they wanted to have me commit to a date of travel. This is just silly. I have a written excuse from the referring Doctor and the surgeon, both were sent to Orbitz and to Air Canada. I will absolutely never use Orbitz again and I am pretty sure Air Canada is also off my list unless they manage to come up with a refund. Amazing enough they called this customer service!
Flying back from Paris to Toronto December 27, 2008. Air Canada staff on long haul flight spent most of the 8.5 hours standing in the galley talking to their friends who were also on the flight. Had to go ASK for water after no stewards had come around for more than 3 hours. This seemed to annoy the steward greatly, as I had to walk into the galley to ask. Asked this steward for directions on how to navigate Pearson airport, as due to flight delay, I was now in danger of missing connecting flight. I asked if there was any assistance provided to get me to my connecting flight. I was told "You're on you're own".
I asked for directions through the airport system to speed my way through. I was told "Go through the hallway, to level three" and he walked off. Pearson Airport is MASSIVE and has three terminals. I had no idea what hallway he was talking about and level three was in fact, the wrong place for domestic departures. At 3 P.M. Toronto time, for reasons unknown all, walkways in Terminal 1 were non-operational. Walked at least 1/4 mile with luggage to my gate. Flight at the gate desk was posted as being ON TIME, even though the clocked showed it was already an hour late.
Woman at desk REFUSED to communicate, answer any questions from any of the confused passengers and snapped at all customers who were merely asking when the connecting flight might leave, or if it would. We are not idiots and yes, we do understand that weather causes delays. This is NOT what any of the CUSTOMERS were asking, we only wanted a status update. After 5 hours of waiting, suddenly the gate board changed to read a Halifax flight. No information was given regarding where the flight to Winnipeg had gone.
100 passengers were milling about trying to help each other, huddled around one man with a Blackberry who was getting web updates on Air Canada cancellations. Air Canada woman at desk continued to stare into space. An hour later, she finally announced the flight was indeed cancelled. She put a 1-800 number up on the board for rebooking. An elderly gentleman could not read the number and Russian travellers could not understand what to do. They were in the same boat as the rest of us, who are Canadian and actually read English. The elderly gentleman and the Russians were spoken to so patronizing and with such contempt, I was embarrassed.
Finally, we were yelled at by the Air Canada woman to go to Air Canada customer service desk and re-book, which was "down the hall". If you've ever been to Pearson Terminal 1 you will understand that this could mean anything - "What hallway?", we wondered. Like dazed cattle, we wandered off. I tried phoning the number this crabby woman posted from a pay phone 10 feet from her desk. After being on hold for 1 hour, I very politely asked her if she could step over my way as I had a question. She refused, even though she was standing at an empty desk.
I explained that if I hung up and walk to her, the last hour would be wasted. She said "That's not my problem". All I wanted to know was whether or not we should give up for the night and find a hotel in Toronto. She picked up her purse from the desk and walked away in the middle of my sentence. I tried another Air Canada agent at another desk that was also empty. I just wanted information and directions. She stood there and talked on her cell phone to her girlfriend for 15 minutes as I watched, before finally looking at me and yelling "I'm on the phone - can't you see that?", and continued talking about last night's party.
This seemed pointless, so I walked off in search of SOMEONE who could direct me. I spent 1 hour wandering around Pearson Airport trying to find the Air Canada customer service desk. Never did. I'm not a stupid person and can follow directions. None posted. Finally I left the secure area and tried the main Air Canada ticketing desk. A very rude "Air Canada Ambassador" (insert sarcastic snort here) was yelling at the group that this was not the desk for rebooking a flight, but only for buying tickets. "Where do we go to rebook?," said the group of dazed cattle. "I don't know," she snapped and walked off.
I went back through security again (always a pleasant experience) and wandered with the rest of the passengers. The elderly man was sitting down, he had no idea what to do, or where to go and could not continue walking around and around. Finally, I stopped an Air Canada pilot walking through with his flight luggage. That's right, a PILOT, and politely asked him if we should give up for the night. He was the only human who treated me with courtesy, and he and a navigator walked me to another Air Canada gate and asked the woman there if she could get me on a flight to Winnipeg.
Credit where it's due, she tried and did provide a boarding pass on the next flight, but warned the plane was still in Ottawa so would be delayed another 2 hours at least, if it arrived at all. At this point, I had been in transit over 22 hours and was ready to pass out. I went to sit down for 5 minutes and have a bit of water and think of what to do. I then went back to the gate only to find it deserted. I could no longer find my flight on the departures board, so I went BACK OUT SECURITY again to find the "Air Canada Ambassador" (insert snort).
I asked, very politely, if she could tell me if my flight had again been cancelled and what I should do, as it was no longer on the departure board. She said, "How should I know, do I look like I have a departure board in front of me?" I said, "What do you recommend?" She snapped that I should go back through security to my original gate. I explained it was deserted. She walked off in the middle of my sentence. I went BACK THROUGH SECURITY again (that's three times for one domestic flight, each time having my luggage searched) and finally found a departure board the showed the gate of my flight to Winnipeg had been changed, but the flight was not cancelled.
It was at least another 1/4 mile walk back through the terminal to the other side, where lo and behold, there was my flight departure gate and the 100 CUSTOMERS I had been wandering with for the past 8 hours. I saw the pilot who had helped me earlier also waiting and went to thank him for helping me. I will not use his name to protect him, but he said he is embarrassed by the treatment Air Canada gives its customers and HE ALSO HAD BEEN ON THE PHONE FOR THREE HOURS, trying to get information on what plane he was supposed to fly, and said the PILOTS are treated one mere step above the customers.
He also said he is waiting for retirement desperately and tells all his friends and relatives to fly WestJet. The flight was again delayed 2 hours, because this time, while we had an airplane ready and a pilot and co-pilot ready to fly, there was no steward crew. Finally after 29 hours of being in transit with this airline, I was in my seat ready to head home. My overhead light did not work, nor did the in-seat television screen. I politely mentioned this to the stewardess and said "I realize you can't fix it now, but you might want to make note of it". She snapped "I can hardly do anything about it now".
I re-explained that I realized this, and was just pointing it out so she could make note and tell the maintenance crew and she said "I guess you'll have to be content with sitting here with your eyes closed." I am not making this up. The steward on this flight made a deliberate point of bumping my arm on every pass through the cabin. I really don't know why, as the seat across the aisle was open and there was plenty of room and I merely had my arm on the armrest - that is what it's there for. He acted like a man who thought he was doing us the biggest favor possible by bringing a cart of water through the cabin.
I will sum up the hell of this experience by saying that yes, we CUSTOMERS do realize Air Canada does not control the weather and that flight delays are a part of travel. All we wanted was some information, communication and assistance to get home. What we got was silence, sarcasm and indifference. Were it not for this kind pilot, I would likely still be lying on the floor of Pearson Airport. As with everyone who has posted here, I too can say, I WILL NEVER FLY AIR CANADA AGAIN. It was a debacle from start to finish and I've never been treated so poorly by a business before.
With the exception of 1 percent of the staff that do try to be human (thank you to the kind pilot and the woman who did book me on the following flight), Air Canada is staffed by surly, angry and indifferent human beings who could not care any less. I don't know if this is a symptom of morale problems within the company and unhappy staff, but if it is, I recommend these individuals leave their positions and find something that makes them happier. They're going to have to leave soon anyway, as more and more and more of us refuse to use this airline.
It is my sincerest wish that bankruptcy follow shortly. I don't say that lightly as a Canadian. If you are reading this, try WestJet. At present, they still seem to try to accommodate the paying CUSTOMER. Air Canada might want to take some lessons. Arrived in Toronto.
VANCOUVER -- I was very disappointed with my experience with your airline on April 1, 2008. I was traveling with my 8-month old infant. I reached the gate with my stroller and before entering the aircraft, received no assistance with my stroller. One of the flight attendants saw me struggling with my diaper bag, my carry on and my baby trying to get the stroller folded up. Instead of coming to assist me, she continued to fix her hair. I finally managed to fold up my stroller just as one of the other attendants came to help me. I was very surprised because I have flown with Air Canada a number of times and have never experienced this before.
Upon arrival at the Vancouver airport, I discovered that my car seat did not arrive. I stood there waiting at the special baggage claim only to learn that no one knew where my car seat was (it was bad enough that three flights had their baggage directed to one carousel). When I went to the desk to inquire about my seat, the gentleman gave me a file number and offered me a loaner seat. He also mentioned that the belt I had put my car seat on in Toronto had been breaking down all day. Why I wasn't told this when I checked in at Toronto, I'm not quite sure.
He brought out a seat and I asked him what the history was and he said he knew that the seat had never been in any accidents. I am not sure how he could be so sure of this unless he was the seat at all times but I felt I had to take his word for it. There was no sticker with the date of manufacture on it so I also had to ask what year it was made (it is not safe to use a seat that is more than 5 years old), he didn't know but said that it was less than 5 years old. Despite the lack of comfort I felt, I was offered no other choice so I thought I would try it. I finally managed to install the base of the seat 30 minutes later. At this point my baby had fallen asleep.
Thinking I was ready to leave a transferred him from his stroller to the car seat only to realize that I could not tighten the straps. Vey upset, I Marched back in to the airport, carrying my son in the seat to have someone show me how to tighten the straps. Someone else was at the desk and he didn't know how to tighten the straps (I had to take my sleeping son out of the seat so he could try to figure it out) so he decided to get me a different seat. He brought out a seat without a base and I told him I need one with a base. So he again disappears into the back and brings me a different seat.
So now I had to go back to the car and return the base to the first seat and then figure out how to install the second seat. Again there was no date of manufacture on the seat and the gentleman told me it was his old seat and showed me how to tighten the straps. This seat however, was in much better condition than the first seat. I do not understand why I was not offered this seat to begin with. Regardless, I proceeded to put my son in this seat and tried to tighten the straps. I could not get them tight enough (there should only be one finger-breadth between your child and the strap). I had someone tighten the straps for me and then proceeded home.
This ordeal resulted in an extra 90 minutes at the airport (my flight was also delayed so this made the night even longer!). I called the baggage claim number on my way home from the airport and I was told that they had no information on my seat. This was very upsetting but I was told to call back the next morning and that they would know more at that time. The next morning, they had located my seat and the web said it was scheduled for delivery at 7 am. I received a call at 7 am telling me asking me if I would be home between 12 pm and 3 pm as that would be the window in which it would be delivered.
This was not acceptable to me as I had many things to do, most important of which was to go to the store to buy food for my son. I could not use the loaner seat because I was unable to get the straps tight enough and was not willing to risk driving with him unless he was properly strapped in. I was told to call Air Canada by the delivery driver. After being on hold for 30 minutes, I managed to have an agent answer my call. I explained the situation to her and told her how I believed my seat should be a priority as I was unable to do anything unless my son was with me (I had nowhere to leave him and no one to get food for me).
After much complaining on my part, she said she would try to have it to me before 12 but could not make any guarantees. She confirmed my address and phone number where I could be reached. She then asked me for my Aeroplan number. As I was providing this information to her, she somehow ended hanging up on me. I waited for her to call me back (I wasn't going to sit on hold again and she had just confirmed my phone number so I expected her to call me back) but she didn't. My seat also did not arrive until 2:59 pm. This resulted in me losing a day of vacation (it was already a short trip). I have sent a complaint to the airline and have yet to hear back.
I love the fact that you can't speak to anyone in person... the only thing they provide you with is a complaint page on their website. This airline prides itself in providing "value-added customer service." I have yet to see this. I guess I can always pay $25 to talk to someone on the phone.
TORONTO -- We are becoming very frustrated, and disillusioned with Air Canada's handling of our lost luggage. It has been 6 weeks since our bags left Calgary with us for Bermuda, and they are still "delayed". I cannot understand how two large suitcases can be delayed, if not lost, for so long. I request that some positive action be taken to find these bags, as it appears to us that the Lost Luggage Department is unable or unwilling to assist us in this matter. We flew Executive class from Calgary to Toronto on AC 134 on November 11, 2006, arriving in Toronto about midnight.
Check-in staff in Calgary first said we would have to claim our bags in Toronto as we were not departing for Bermuda until the next morning, but after checking she assured us our two bags were checked through to Bermuda. On arrival in Toronto, a gate check staff checked details on her computer, issued boarding passes for the next leg of our flight and supposedly connected the numbers on our tags from Calgary to the boarding passes to Bermuda. She had to enter the numbers twice to get them right but she assured us the baggage would be checked through, although they would have to wait in Toronto until the morning flight.
We continued Executive class Toronto to Bermuda on AC942 on November 12, 2006. On arrival there it was obvious our bags had not arrived, so we filled-in tracing details with an Air Canada clerk there and were given File Reference number. The Bermudian clerk advised us we're entitled to $50 per person for essential items, but in spite of travelling Executive Class we would still have to wait 24 hours before we could even get that. After waiting the required 24 hours, we still had no luggage.
My wife phoned the 1-888-689-2247 number for your tracing office (just outside of Mumbai, India she ascertained from her conversation with the clerk) and again were told we were only entitled to $50 each, even though we travelled Executive class. We kept contacting the tracing office via internet. After finding the same message "TRACING CONTINUES. PLEASE CHECK BACK LATER" on their form for three days, it appeared that this method was going to be no help, so we again phoned the 1-888 number. As the call centre is located in India, the staff admitted they were only able to see the same information we had on the internet.
I am sure you can understand that at this point our frustration level rose. We were visiting our daughter in Bermuda for the birth of her baby and one of the cases was full of gifts for the baby and our other grandchildren, including handmade blankets and hand-knitted sweaters. Worse, there were snowsuits for the children who are all coming back to Canada for Christmas and will need the clothes immediately they arrive to our record low temperatures. With the cost of living in Bermuda, the $50 went nowhere near covering necessary clothes and toiletries for a 2 week stay.
We kept feeling that our 'delayed' bags would turn up soon, but every day the same message on the internet. The worst part of it is that we believe that our luggage was/is in the tally or luggage room in Toronto, because of our evening departure time from Calgary and morning departure from Toronto. And no one would look in the room. My wife asked the India call centre to send a message to Toronto to look in these rooms, but to our knowledge no message was sent as there was nothing on the file when we actually saw it when we were back in the Calgary airport luggage desk.
Our cases were very distinguishable and had ship-shaped fluorescent green luggage tags with the information engraved on them. But there was no way we could talk to someone LIVE in Toronto. We even phoned Bermuda luggage and they also never sent any messages. After 5 days, my wife again contacted the India call centre and was told to fill out a baggage declaration form (which we were not given at the airport) and as our bags "must have lost all their tags" would be in Montreal. (Loss of 1 tag on one case I can understand - all off both, I can't.)
And when she told them they had combination locks on them was told that they would slash the bags to get inside them. Not a great thought when they are needed to get the contents back to the destination. Before leaving Bermuda, the Air Canada check-in clerk again sent a message to Toronto and Calgary to search for the bags and to let them know that we were coming and would want to check while we were there. On our return through Toronto, again Executive Class, on AC947 on November 24, 2006 we checked with Lost & Found desk (no lost bags there), and were directed to the Luggage Department in Terminal 1.
Again the staff checked the computer and found the same message - "TRACING CONTINUES. PLEASE CHECK BACK LATER". We asked to check the Tally Room, and were very helpfully shown the luggage there. Again no bags, and only the assurance that after 5 days all bags would be sent to Montreal for further tracing. However we weren't able to walk round the other room - the baggage room where we really suspect our bags were/are.
Arriving back in Calgary late November 24th, we again checked with Luggage Department and found the clerk there very sympathetic and helpful - though he could find no further information than "TRACING CONTINUES. PLEASE CHECK BACK LATER". He went so far as to phone Toronto and ask them to walk around the luggage room, but was told that no one had the time to do it. It would appear to us that very little effort has gone into actually looking for these bags. I see two problems here: either more care is needed by ground staff and luggage handlers to prevent loss and delay, or more staff is needed to look for the luggage lost or damaged by them.
The clerk did provide us with a copy of allowances for delayed luggage printed from your information and, it appears we were misinformed by several offices as to entitlements. Apparently we should have been entitled to $100 each, immediately we arrived in Bermuda without our luggage. When my wife phoned India again about this, they said they would add the extra so we would be able to claim the higher amount (which we did indeed have to spend) then said "Oops, have to take it back because you are home again"!!! What is going on? We were also told that it would be at least 3 months before we are compensated for this outlay.
And I was also told that our bags wouldn't be declared LOST only delayed so it will be impossible for us to even submit a claim to Visa on our Aero-gold card insurance. And no one from Air Canada will even advise what kind of compensation is going to be offered. Will it cover the total loss? We have always been firm supporters of Air Canada. We fly AC by choice, rather than necessity. We have always found the staff polite and helpful in spite of what I have heard the media and others saying. However, the lack of assistance in this instance has really shaken our faith.
We are currently booked to fly to New York in January for a cruise - we CHOSE Air Canada - but without compensation for expenses on the past trip, nor even bags to pack for this trip I am questioning my decision of that choice. I want to know what is actually being done to find these ‘delayed bags'. I want to know why it is taking so long? I want the bags returned in preference to a compensation for lost bags. I anxiously await such assurances.
WINNIPEG -- This is in reference to a recent trip my wife and I took to Boston for a visit. We were to leave Winnipeg on Air Canada flight #254 at 7:45 am on Friday, August 25 for a connecting flight in Toronto then on to Boston. The
connecting flight to Boston was #7962. Firstly, the day before we left, I had to call Air Canada to get some information about what we could take aboard, be sure it was on time, etc. After pressing what seemed like a
hundred buttons, I never did speak to anyone and got very frustrated.
So I called WestJet because I figured their rules would be the same as Air Canada's as far as what liquids, gels, medications, etc. were allowed onboard, what time to be at the airport and so on. Someone answered after
about two rings and answered my questions about my wife's medications and so on. On Friday morning we got to the airport by about 6:00 am and got in line to check in. There were 4 girls working the desk - 3 for regular
passengers and it seemed like one for executive passengers. After one of the 3 girls was done with a passenger, she got up and disappeared, walking down the concourse. That left two girls, as the lineup grew.
My wife and I were next so we went to one of the girls. Without acknowledging us, she banged a couple of keys on the computer and then looked down and noticed that her computer was out of paper or baggage checks or whatever. She got a box of paper but didn't know how to load it. And the lineup grew. So she got the girl beside her to help, so now there is no one helping customers. However, that girl didn't know either, so she went back to helping customers and the girl who was to have served us simply got up and said "I'm going for
coffee!!" and she left. And the lineup grew, seemingly out the door by now.
So the one working girl called us over and asked if she could help. Well, yeah! We gave her our ticket and she punched some stuff into the computer and said "There's a problem. Your ticket says you're in row 137 which is about 4 planes long. There's been a misprint. I'll have to get this fixed." She checked our bags in the meantime and takes us over to another person down the concourse who confirms that there is a problem. That lady not only
changes our seats but advises us very nonchalantly that our "plane is broken" and we would have to switch flights.
Advising passengers that planes are broken is not very reassuring in light of what's been going on in
the airline industry lately. So we get our flight changed to an earlier one, get our new seats (at the very back of the plane), and she assures us that our bags will be changed to the correct flight. By now, there are lots
of flags going up and whistles going off. So we get to Toronto without further problem then find out we have to change terminals to catch the flight to Boston. So we get shuttled to the other terminal which is like a ghost town. Not a soul in there and very limited signs giving direction.
But we finally find our way and go to pick up our luggage from the carousel. No baggage. I explain to one guy in the Air Canada area and he tells us to see one of the other guys down the line in baggage. So I go to the counter (my wife is still watching the empty carousel in the meantime) and stand in front of this other guy who is nonchalantly thumping on his keyboard. Didn't look up, no acknowledgement, no "I'll be with you in a moment", nada. Couldn't give a fat rat's if we were there or not. So I looked at another guy next to him, and he simply avoided eye contact. Finally he looks up and I tell him that our bags aren't coming.
He checks our baggage numbers and tells us they should be here, and just to wait. So I wait. And wait. And wait. I went over again. He calls the other terminal and is told that in fact there are a couple of bags at the other terminal. So he asks that they be brought over right away. So my wife and I waited and waited as our connecting flight loomed. Finally the bags arrive and they are absolutely soaking wet. So back I go to see this guy in baggage and complain that the bags are soaked. He says "Yeah. It's raining." and went back to his computer. Again, not one iota of caring or compassion or empathy.
I asked why they weren't covered and he said "they just weren't." No particular reason. And I know there are tarps that go over luggage in inclement weather. And these bags were drenched, not like a sprinkling of mist. This also made the bags significantly heavier, which should be an airline concern as well. No one seemed to give a damn. I also had to ask one of the Air Canada guys for directions to Canada Customs to ask them a question. He proceeded to give me instructions to US customs. So I came back and asked again, and he said "down the hall, turn here, turn there." So I did, and found a dead end.
Someone else sent me upstairs, then they sent me back downstairs. A real gong show. Finally I found it on my own and the guy in Customs was very good. Anyway, my wife and I loaded our soaked bags on the conveyor belt and awaited our connecting flight. With an apparent rainstorm on the eastern seaboard our flight was delayed over an hour, but that's not your fault. We got to Boston, had a great time, and the return flight went off without a hitch. But the horrific experience in Winnipeg and Toronto coming out was enough to make us reconsider travel with Air Canada.
**, your recent article in the paper about airlines in the US and their poor service can now include our own "national" carrier. The "who gives a **" attitude is very disconcerting. **, you did a wonderful job booking everything. The hotel was great, the booking of the flight was good, but I would advise you try booking through WestJet every chance you get. At least their people smile and seem to care. Air Canada people, you have lost 2 customers and likely more. Any chance I get to book my own flights, it will be with WestJet if at all possible.
If the wet baggage is not your responsibility, I will advise that you speak to the airport authorities about handling of luggage. Luckily nothing inside our bags was ruined so we didn't have to make a baggage claim. A course on
customer service to your employees wouldn't hurt either. When that girl in Winnipeg said she was going for coffee, my jaw almost hit the ground. And the lineup grew. And no one gave a damn. Thanks for listening.