Friday, September 14, 2007

Air Canada

Is it just me or does everyone love our "national airline"?

I thought, despite their regularly awful service, that they'd never beat the time they lost my luggage 5 times out of 6 consecutive flights.

It remains to be seen but they're working hard at it. I'm in Ottawa right now trying to fly home. I get to the airport and found quickly how lucky I am to avoid checked luggage at all cost.

For those not familiar with the Ottawa airport, there are about 20 check in counters that are non-US flights at at the far end of these counters is Air Canada. When I arrived, the check in line went the full length of the counters, beyond them to the end of the airport and around a corner.

Phew, I said, I can go down to security where there is a check-in kiosk for those without checked bags. Upon arriving at said kiosk, I found that it was out of order. So, I went back upstairs and navigated my way through the angry and annoyed to the other kiosks, I waited in line for those because 4 out of 10 were out of order. The machine refused to let me select a seat and wouldn't print me a second boarding pass for my connection to Fredericton but, at least, I had a pass and no checked bags.

After sitting around for a while, and watching in astonishment as the line continued to grow, Air Canada announced over the PA - for the first time in at least the half hour I'd been there - that their computers were on the fritz and causing delays. There was no "sorry" or "thanks for your understanding" included in the announcement.

I wasn't sure if this was the same reason why, despite the fact that less than half of the flights on the board were Air Canada, 7 of 8 delayed flights had "AC" in front of them or not.

Upon going to my gate and seeing the time for my own delayed flight, I saw another flight was delayed so much it was departing for my destination 4 minutes before mine had been scheduled to. I approached the agent, waited in line, and attempted to inquire if I could get on that flight so as to make my connection. Upon reaching her, I was informed that her shift had ended 5 minutes before so she was leaving. How's that for customer service!?

Now, I'm sorry, but I work in the service industry. When my clients need help, through no fault of my company, I stay late to help them. These mopes won't stay more than 5 minutes when it is their system failure!?

I'm now on my flight, whether I'll make my connection or sleep in a terminal remains to be seen. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, share your Air Canada horror stories below.

UPDATE: Saved by dumb luck. My flight is scheduled for 8:30, I land at 8:02. I think it may be close but doable. Pilot announces that there is no gate, there will be a "five minute" wait. Finally get inside terminal at 8:27. I push my way to the Fredericton gate - fortunately the next one over. I ask the agent "have you boarded yet?". She responds "no". I'm confused. She asks "coming from Ottawa?". Me: "yes?". Her: "it is the same crew". So I've waited 8 minutes and they are now calling for boarding. Go figure.


Kit said...

I hope you get out of Ottawa sooner rather than later. I have the same sense of foreboding when I'm stuck there (usually Air Canada's fault)

I have a few air travel stories as well, and most have to do with crappy Air Canada service from Fredericton "International".
It was never this way when they were in competition with Canadian. Plenty of choice in flights, twice the number of destinations. Kept them honest.
Then they priced Canadian out of the market and "wham" the next minute prices go up, service goes down and they cut half the flights....
So now we have Capital Airways working hard on a proposal to have a direct flight service to Ottawa(to fill the hole that Air Canada repeatedly refused to provide) and literally just before it gets finalised, Air Canada announces its starting up a direct service again.

Coincidence? I think not. Now theres an Air Canada story I'd like to hear more about.

Tory@York said...

Not exactly an Air Canada flight story (but then I'm never going to fly them in my life after what happened here) About 5 or 6 years ago (or whenever it was that Air Canada went bankrupt) my father was contracted by Air Canada to build a series of shipping containters for flight simulator parts to ship to england. Well, after putting out roughly 2 or 3 grand for the materials and the time he invested, he finished the job. Lo and behold the day he recieved the cheque for 10 grand, was the same day good ol Air Canada declared bankruptcy. We did not get any of that money, and my dad was out the 2 or 3 grand he spent himself on the project. And thats why I fly anyone but Air Canada.

nbpolitico said...

I fly others whenever I can avoid it. Unfortunately it is the only way to fly domestically in to Fredericton.

Sometimes I would drive to Moncton to do WestJet but it's not always feasible.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has a favourite Air Canada story - here is what happened to me a few months back when returning from Toronto to Fredericton through Montreal - for some reason the flight
(420) from Toronto docked at the International end of Montréal Dorval -
flight staff had not told us and there were no agents when we entered the
terminal - being in an unfamiliar area of the terminal I and about 50 others
who were first off followed the arrivals and connections signs and found
ourselves in customs and immigration (there were a million kids there
returning from Cuba, etc.) where officers kept asking us stupid questions -
"How did you get here?" - answer "Air Canada brought me", and "Why haven't
you completed a customs declaration?" - answer "I have not been outside
Canada for five years". Eventually we were all herded together and
accompanied through the exit by a couple of big uniformed guys - one a
francophone who was dressed like a Texas Ranger. So, of course, then had to
go through security again at the domestic end of the terminal. Had enough
time left, however, to go to the Maple Leaf lounge and have a stiff drink on
Air Canada.