Air Canada Complaint - Air Canada loses my luggage and offers minimum compensation / 28 hour delay
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. Pictures are on link below (copy the link and paste it):
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 nonstop.
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 signeage and slow, slow, slow security personel 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 code share 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 Travellodge, 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. Somwhat 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 letter.
1. They are liable for up to $1,600 in losses as per the Warsaw Convention.
2. 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.
3. 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 nonstop 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.
Where is my luggage?