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.
I hate flying with AC. Every time it has been a bad experience. If it's not the bad attitudes and nose up in the air flight attendants, it's the non-complacent ho hum bull from the rest of the pitiful staff. The onboard service is archaic to say the least and an insult to Canadians. Their flights are way overpriced. And you're right the attendants are usually old and grumpy. I usually go out of my way and avoid AC. I just came back from Hawaii for two weeks. On the way from Calgary to Vancouver we had 45 other passengers on board going to the same destination and another 20 flying to Honolulu.
We were getting concerned that because of a 3-hour delay we would miss the connecting flight upon arriving in Vancouver. Trying to get AC personnel to give any information on whether there was any possibility of holding the Hawaii flight back was useless. The service counter told us they would not hold the plane for us. Not being in this predicament before, I had no idea what would happen if we missed our flight in Vancouver. When I asked the AC Service person she told me that if it was missed due to a weather issue then it's our problem. You could imagine what happen next. The service desk was consumed by unruly passengers demanding for help.
The AC service person just ignored anyone's request and basically was no further help. When we were on flight to Vancouver the Pilot announced that they would hold back the Hawaii flight for all of the 45 passengers on board. On the way back from Hawaii it was no better. The attitude of the staff was rude and unfriendly as usual.
One example was upon takeoff from Vancouver to Calgary, which happen to be delayed for 2 hours, Lord only knows why, we boarded on time, again waiting for either luggage to come aboard or staff to show up or deicing or sitting in the deicing bay waiting for traffic clearance and then waiting for another deicing check, well you get what I am saying. Anyway when we finally took off, there was water or accumulated condensation in two separate overhead luggage compartments pouring down on 2 young kids. They were on opposite sides of the plane. A male flight attendant got up quickly on one side of the isle and covered the one youth with a towel or blanket.
But on the other side there was water pouring down on the other youth and the parents were desperately trying to help the near panic-stricken child with little or nothing they could do. And then the mother of the child looked back to were the flight attendant was sitting and ask for assistance. This was after several times trying to page the attendant electronically. The flight attendants immediate response in the most ignorant voice you can imagine was "it's not life threatening". Instead of responding politely with "I'll be there as soon as I possibly can". And then apologizing for the event.
I fly with WestJet. They treat you with respect and go out of there way for the most part to help you out. We pay big bucks to travel now days and for that money I expect service. After all it is a service industry not a government subsidized travel serviced industry. This is to be expected from our wonderful government. Oh wait a minute, AC is subsidized by the tax payers and happens to have been bailed out by us a few times already. Go figure.
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.
HALIFAX -- I purchased a spring getaway pass for April/May 2008. On April 12, I arrived for my flight only to find that the check in was closed! My ticket printed directly from the Flight Pass site said 45 min prior to flight time for my Halifax to Boston flight. I thought I was there early, but was told I was 5 min late; that the allowed time was 60 min prior. No one could explain why my ticket said 45 min but an Air Canada official was quick to point out that it wasn't their rules, it was customs. A customs agent then approached me and said not so. If I had a boarding pass, customs will allow admittance up to 30 min before any flight.
I needed to be in Boston, so I tried to reschedule this flight. Nothing was available even through connections until the next day. I was told all flights had been overbooked this day. The agent suggested that if I could get to Toronto, she could get me from Toronto to Boston that night. (My flight pass was Eastern Getaway... So it included flights from Halifax to Toronto and points in between, plus several cities all the way to Florida). A flight pass ticket can be booked up to 60 min before departure.
She was even helpful enough to look through the system and see that Westjet did have a flight leaving in 45 min that would just get me to Toronto for the connecting flight and that there were seats available. I decided that having to pay 300 for that ticket was OK since I needed to be there that night. She said she would get my seat booked from Toronto While I got my ticket there. So I proceeded to get my Westjet ticket to Toronto and returned to get my Toronto to Boston ticket.
This is when she tells me that she was unable to use the flight pass (even though the flight was two hours away) even though she had cancelled the original booking. A ticket Toronto to Boston would be 800!! I had already spent the 300 and certainly didn't want to be stranded in Toronto and I needed to be in Boston although now I was going to be 4 hours late for the function... So I booked it and thought I could resolve things with the airline later. By the way, the Toronto to Boston flight wasn't even half full. I'm sure they could have accepted a flight pass booking!
I did write a complaint (there is no phone number for Air Canada Jazz... You either fax or email your complaint) and an automated fax reply said expect 20 business days for a response. After 6 weeks, I contacted Air Canada, who forwarded the information to Air Canada Jazz again. This time I received somewhat of a form letter telling me that it was unfortunate that I was late and that they can't hold an airplane for someone!! THAT WASN'T WHAT I WAS ASKING! The fact that I was on time by the allowances printed on my ticket was unacknowledged. I wrote again and said that I just wanted them to realize this.
I received a response that it was up to me to ensure that my flight was on time. WHAT??? To top things off, I then get an email telling me that I had been billed 150 for failing to show up for my scheduled flight. Insulting! My flight pass tickets for May still said 45 min prior to departure on them. Obviously it was an error in the flight pass section of their online booking, but why couldn't they acknowledge this? I was asking for flight credit in return for the extra money I had to spend, but this was denied. They said rules changed September 2007 and time before departure switched from 45 to 60 min to USA.
I wish this information would have been correct on my ticket... It would have saved me a lot of time and money. I'm not through pursuing this yet. I have saved all of my documents, including the airport parking stub which shows I was at the terminal 1hr 15 before departure, not that it helps any. I'm unsure how to proceed from here... Small claims? My two requests to actually speak to a person were ignored and snotty, condescending letters were sent instead. If Westjet flew to Boston, I wouldn't even consider Air Canada again.
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY -- Last year we had planned a rather lengthy trip to visit a relative who lived in Kuala Lumpur. We booked seats on an Air Canada flight (3 people -my mother, sister and I) which set us back about 6 thousand dollars. Apparently 6 thousand dollars is a deal on Air Canada because since then the fares have nearly doubled. Anyway, that's another point all together.
We had to make not one, not two but 3 connections to make it all the way there from Fredericton, New Brunswick. Connections were in Montreal, Newark and Sweden. So we have scheduled tickets and allotted appropriate times to connect between flights and we are set to go. Day arrives for us to travel, and we take off and Land, no issues. We are then stopping over for 9 hours in Montreal (scheduled) and then off to Newark. - We are delayed by an hour getting on the plane because of weather, then delayed an hour in the air because of air congestion, and then sat on the tarmac 30 minutes while we then subsequently watched our connecting flight take off.
So this obviously is disturbing knowing our other flight is gone (because we were connecting to Malaysia Air -Which IS on time). We go to Air Canada's ticketing terminals in Newark and no one is home - go to Malaysia Air and they say it's Air Canada's issue so we were then back to square one with no Air Canada agents to talk to. Finally we are directed to go retrieve our luggage and find some back room agent that will tell us what we need to do now.
This is a Monday mind you and around 11 PM so we have been in airports all day. We are told that Malaysia Air only flies 3 days a week out of Newark - Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. So, they call Malaysia Air and we are told that it would be a week and a half before they could reschedule us.
Our trip was scheduled to be 3 weeks long in Malaysia so that would cut it in half and meanwhile we are stuck 1000 miles from home. I obviously protest and say that this is unacceptable, and somehow we are magically scheduled on the next Thursday flight. So- it's Monday, and we are stuck in Newark, New Jersey or 3 days. First of all- How do you find a hotel? Second of all who is paying for it? Not Air Canada because it was a "weather delay." We have to spend 3 days in New Jersey, and 2 extra days traveling losing nearly a week of our trip.
In the end, we had flight insurance (thank goodness) because it cost us nearly $1500 for 3 days in Newark to stay there being so close to New York and the American Thanksgiving weekend. We manage to get the flight 3 days later and Malaysia Air is superb and we can't understand why Air Canada can't be this efficient, clean, organized and courteous to their patrons. I avoid Air Canada like the plague if I have a choice- but I don't really have one- living in Fredericton, Air Canada is basically the only Airline Canada offers.
This was highly discouraging, and I hesitate any time I think I need to fly somewhere - My Fiance lives in the United Kingdom, and that in itself is a whole different Kettle of fish. Air Canada charges 1000 for base fare and then 600-700 in "fuel surcharges" and other taxes, so in total it ends up being 2100. That is ridiculous. Do you really mean to tell me that I have to pay for a ticket that doesn't include such useful items as fuel? What exactly is the base fare paying for then? It is utterly ridiculous.
I am a long time road warrior and have been traveling for business and pleasure for most of my adult life. I can honestly say, without any hesitation that based solely on my personal experience Air Canada is a true Canadian disaster. How an operation like this can actually stay in business is a testament to our low standards and runaway acceptance of such incompetence. That we allow our governments and corporate institutions to bail them out so they can continue to spread their low standards and bad service upon us is even more absurd. Their poor performance is evident from the very first step forward to the final goodbye.
The AC and Aeroplan websites are the only such travel sites that do not work with Macs. Welcome to the 90s Mr. **. There is more to life than Windows. Checking in online works less than 50% of the time. Of all airlines I have used AC's web services are the slowest and most cumbersome to use.
Online bookings fail 50% of the time. Contact information is wrong and links are usually a chain of never ending sales pitches, with no delivery. Pricing is twice as high as most other national airlines. Service is twice as bad. It's faster, cheaper and usually more convenient to drive to a US city and fly within the US than to travel out of any Canadian airport.
Telephone bookings introduce us to the most unhelpful staff known to mankind. Period. My way or the highway. Have a nice day. No help. No hints. No excuses. And that will be $35 for booking by phone instead of wasting hours online for the booking to crash at the last moment.
Check-in is slow to impossible. Counter staff is less disrespectful if you are a business / elite regular, but those times that you're not you may as well be at a bus station. It makes no difference if you are trying to fix a problem created by their own mistakes, helping aged parents get on a simple flight, or if you're a worried parent sending young children off to fly the friendly skies. You can be sure to get less help from AC staff from beginning to end than you would at just about any other business entity known to man.
Flight Service appears as if it was designed by those who have never traveled. They wake you when you sleep, leave you alone when you need help, ensure the cabin is always too hot or too cold, make stupid excuses for everything. I've even seen them break up a young family sitting together so that a flight attendant could take a break in the front of the cabin, rather than at the rear. AC is absolutely the most ignorant when it comes to customer service.
Lost baggage? Forget about it. Unless a small city in India is your final destination, the endless finger pointing and promises executed by call centre employees in India are totally useless especially when your bag is usually sitting alone and dejected about 100 metres from you in some security holding room.
Pilots and Crew Sorry. No complaints here. They are good at their jobs, but they are unfortunate to have such dimwits directing them.
Gate Staff From operations which insists upon boarding when they know full well there is no chance of the flight actually departing, to making sure you wait as long as possible before you begin your bad experience in the air, to blaming you for every mistake they make. I have never heard a sincere apology fall from any AC employee's lips.
Travel Rewards You can earn Aeroplan points in a thousand ways. But try using them. Forget it! Searching for flights ensures a system designed to make reward travel as expensive and difficult as possible which is probably why I often just pay rather than go through the ripoff experience of paying 4 times the going rate in points trying to find a direct flight. I will die leaving millions of unused points, unless they simply delete them when I'm not looking.
Buy the t-shirt. I have decided this is going to be my personal vendetta. I intend to buy and wear the "Err Canada" shirts that say - love the country, hate the airline - every time I fly Air Canada. It won't faze any of the staff. They will continue to think they are right and we're crazy.
Air Canada: I had to pay for the same two tickets 2 times. I had to pay twice for my wife and pay twice for my son to take one flight. Thank you for harassing my wife yesterday but also thank you for not tasering her. I am born Canadian and spend 50% of my time in the air. The other 50% split equally between Peru and Canada. My wife is born Peruvian. My 6 year old son/duel citizenship, born in Peru.
My wife and son spent this last school year 2007-2008 in Canada. Yesterday they were to return to Peru. They have had their return tickets for one year. I am presently in Peru. I was waiting for their arrival at the Peru Airport. I had spent a half-hour on the computer the night before confirming their baggage, their seat numbers. Three phone calls to my wife... She speaks Spanish, very little broken English.
They arrived at the Vancouver Airport and the harassment started. (The early check-in Air Canada had sent me on the computer was wrong. It said Joshua, my six year old could check in luggage. It said Marlene my wife could also check in luggage.) Marlene brought this number of bags to the Airport. OH! OH! said the ticket agent. Joshua is only six. Six year olds are not allowed to check in luggage... And the harassment went on.
After all this, yesterday I called the airline myself. They stated "the bags at one point were loaded on the plane then unloaded". My wife, with minimum English, had no idea what was going on, missed her plane and returned to the Vancouver apartment we had been renting this past year. The airline sold me another ticket last night. I will try again to fly my family home to Peru this coming Friday.
But the good news is, they sufficiently harassed my wife. She never wants to fly again. She has two sisters married to Americans. These sisters spend between $5,000 to $10,000 per year flying home, Peru to see their mother. (I will not have to spend these dollars. I will now not have to buy tickets for my wife to fly home and see her mother.)
With my time spent equally between Peru and Canada, I wanted to buy a house in Peru. Marlene previously wanted it to be in Canada. Yesterday afternoon, Marlene, my wife, went to the bank and transferred $250,000 to the bank in Peru. Our house will be bought in Peru. This will also save me between $5,000 and $10,000 per year in airline tickets.
Each time I am on an Air Canada plane, by the time I arrive at my destination I am wondering why I ever fly this Airline but this time... Yes it cost me extra tickets to get my family home. I bought a total of 4 tickets (two tickets each to get my family home) when all I should have needed was two (one each). But in the long run, you saved me money. Thank you Air Canada.
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, OHIO -- March 16th 2008 Toronto's Pearson Intl Airport at 5:30 am - 7:30 am - Arriving at the airport I immediately spoke to an Air Canada counter clerk to ask where to be directed for my flight to Chicago. With slight misdirection I clarified with AC Jazz and not United. Then I was referred to the right place for check-in. Arriving at check-in I waited in line to speak to a clerk at the beginning of the line-up and was told I needed to do a self check-in. Not knowing how to do it, I attempted several times. No luck. When the attendant freed up I asked for assistance. I was told to retry some things to which I replied it didn't work.
She then saw for herself that the machines could not read my barcode (the official web printout was too big) and I was told to go to another counter for regular check-in. And then the problems began. Arriving at the counter As I waited for attendants that were chatting amongst themselves to finish up and notice me but before that could happen I noticed another attendant in the back and asked her for assistance. I felt relieved to be able to speak to someone whom I thought could help. I explained that I had been running around from counter to counter and had no luck with the self check-in. When she asked for the flight number she stated that I was too late to check-in.
It was now 7:02am. And this is where the problems began. Though I think it was somewhat rude and irritating to be completely denied any help after being told I was too late (again by 2 minutes!!!). Air Canada being the national carrier I cannot understand that some employees are hardline minimalists and seem to relish their hard stances with customers misfortunes. She gave me no help asides suggesting I leave my luggage behind for my trip! Or perhaps having someone else fly with me. I then mentioned that it was important that she try something, anything to get me on that flight at 7 as I had a connecting flight (separately booked, yet with Star Alliance, ANA from Chicago to Narita NH011 leaving Chicago at 10:45 am).
She suggested I go to the ticketing counter for help on another flight to Chicago. Feeling helpless that she was just a do-as-little-as-I-can worker I asked to speak to her boss. She went to fetch **. ** re-iterated the same thing in even more of a hardline fashion. I received even less help from her. Not only that but the tone of voice and manner with which she spoke to me was incredibly rude and NOT warranted in any scenario. I felt as if I was the one that had done something wrong.
I explained that I had been given the run around and self-check did not work. To which she replied that 90 minutes is ample time to check-in given that the first 30 minutes before the flight are to sort out people with troubles. Unfortunately she did not want to hear my side of the story and I only had one option which was to seek the ticketing office. The next flight with United was too late for me to connect to my Chicago flight to Japan. I am completely taken aback by this treatment and extremely disappointed by the treatment I received.
I used to be proud to be a Canadian and using air Canada but if this is the face of things to come I cannot in good conscience recommend nor mention Air Canada to anyone wishing to travel by airplane. In short, though I am now stuck in Toronto and out of TWO airplane tickets due to some inflexible and non-empathetic clerks and rules, It would have been at the very LEAST a decent thing for ** to be a little more courteous and the other staff members more willing and less ** to help. On the upside at the ticketing booth, a certain ** was very nice and helpful.
But as for ** (who didn't give me any more information than that when asked) I believe she requires more in-depth customer skills training or a return back to BASIC customer service seminars. Extremely disappointed and stuck in Toronto.
After I spoke to ** who offered me a direct flight to Japan One-way 2400$ CDN or return 1500$ I opted to not bother with Air Canada anymore. I chose to go with the cheapest airline I could find on such short notice. I flew Continental from Toronto-Newark-Tokyo for 940$ tax in (return). Better food, better service, better entertainment, better plane. It wasn't perfect but miles above Air Canada already.
I don't expect Air Canada to respond to my complaint which is pretty much the same as I wrote here minus names. I don't even expect them to read it, let alone offer any compensation! Nor do I expect the Toronto Star or Toronto Sun papers to pick this up either so I guess I'll try the Canadian Transportation Authorities. I will NOT let this go! I lost a great opportunity in Japan, plus a day's wages, plus stress caused, wasted tickets, PLUS the new ticket!