Over this past holiday season, the mastodon of an airline company Air Canada has taken a whoooole lot of heat for stranding thousands of Canadians miles from their homes with no compensation in every city across the country. While any one can see that the unforgiving old man winter did give a BIG bitch slap to us over the past 2 weeks, one can’t blame all the flight screwery on some snow. Here’s my own adventure from the past 2 weeks, complete with some sound and visual aid. And for the sake of giving you the reader an impartial points system so you can decide for yourself what this company is all about, let’s start them off with a perfect 10 out of 10 points rating, shall we?
I wake up bright and early at the normally unseen time of 530 in order to make sure I’m at Pearson airport for my 8 o’clock boarding time. Here’s where we encounter the first issue. The ticket that I had paid for ($750) was booked to leave at 5pm that evening on a direct flight. For some mysterious reason, I got an email 2 days before the flight informing me that I was now flying out almost 9 hours earlier with a connection in Ottawa that had a 2 hour stop over. Hmmmm. Interesting. I generally assumed that by me booking at 5, AC would get that I wanted to leave at 5 on the direct flight that I coughed up for. Apparently I wasn’t clear enough. I think that deserves a minus 1 point, yes?
So, we get to the airport in plenty of time and I’m feeling good. I walk in to the monstrosity of Terminal one, see an AC agent and 50 line ups that are longer then most sporting fields, tell her I’m flying to Nova Scotia and she directs me to a line that literally has about 300 people in it. Since it’s her job to do such things I take her word for it and go to the back like a good little maritimer should. I wait for about 45 minutes and start to worry. This line up is going nowhere fast, and I’m getting worried. I ask the person ahead of me if they no why things may be going so slow, and she says that this time of year getting into the US is always a tricky process. ???? Ok, definitely in the wrong line, and was definitely directed to go specifically there by an AC employee. I think that deserves a minus 0.5 for sure. I walk back to the front and find the right place to go, hop in line, and make it through just in time. No more issues, and I get on the flight and all is well. Off to our nation’s capital.
This is where all the fun begins. I head to my gate and notice right away that my flight is delayed by 45 minutes. No problem, I’ve got a big book and lots of good music. As I sit down I see a group of people looking very tired and more then a little pissed off. I quickly find out that three of them have been waiting to get on flights since 6 that morning, and one girl was actually stranded there since yesterday afternoon. Ouch. The whole problem is that Halifax airport is experiencing super high winds and planes are having problems landing. Fair enough I suppose, delays happen and I expected them, but 24 hour delays? I’m getting nervous.
Fast forward ahead 3 hours after all the AC flights have been repeatedly delayed, and some canceled. AC employees are now telling us that official statement is that Halifax International Airport is CLOSED. Very interesting since pretty much everyone at this point in the world has an internet connection or cell phone, and very quickly was able to find out this was a complete lie ,and also didn’t hesitate to tell the very uncooperative lady at the desk the information they had found. Her response? Quick eye movements and a retreat through the security door. I realize that it’s a tough job trying to deal with a mob of angry travelers, but it is still your job and you just bailed in a big way. Minus 2 points for that move.
So now we’re on our own, and a group of about 5 of us have banded together to watch each other’s bags, backs, and flight boards. After noticing 3 gate changes for our flights and more and more delays, all bets are off and are flights vanish from the board. No announcement, no one directing us to where we should be headed, no employees. I go back out through security and find my luggage over turned in a corner pile with hundreds of other items. Minus 1 mishandlers.This doesn’t look good. What is positive is I retrieved my H4 from the luggage. I should have kept you in my pocket, never again will I leave you little buddy, never.
So, next stop, what’s this, a blue uniform??? An AC worker!! An announcement was made that they’d hold a meeting for all affected passengers ( someone made the comment that they make us sound like people exposed to an outbreak monkey). We gathered round her like grandkids listening to papa’s Christmas story, and one very elderly lady tried to get some info for us
Oh man, that employee was scared. What was her response after? You guessed it, said she be right back, and never returned. Nice. Minus 1 for sure.
Next stop, the aforementioned meeting. Scheduled to start at 4:30, the first time we heard anyone address at all was at about 6:15. The floor is not a comfortable place for 2 hours. People were becoming unhappy. Lets listen.
God bless the poor woman named Kim at the Info desk. While AC was hiding deep in the confines of an office or boardroom, Kim was thrown to the lions and left to deal with a situation that she was neither trained or responsible for. Here’s how it looked.
madness. At this point, fate dealt me the first lucky card of the day. An AC man was looking for people scheduled on the flight to Fredericton at 7. I happened to be standing next to him and said half jokingly that I’d take a ticket if he had one ( I had to be in Fredericton the next day for a show anyway). Lo and behold he said he had one space and could put me on. I said a sad good bye to my line up friends ( Kim, Rachel, Mary, John and family, I really hope you all got home) and ran as instructed to the gate because the plane was “going to leave at any second”. Minus 1 for being a big liar.
Now it’s 11. I’ve been looking at our luggage on the tarmac for 4 hours. Like this.
I felt very very bad for Jason from Vancouver whose guitar was sitting on the cart in minus 20 weather. He was freaking out as he pretty much every right too. It’s now been over 5 hours since we’ve seen any staff, and here’s an example of how info was being presented to us, 3 rd hand from a passenger who over heard a conversation from 2 flight attendants who weren’t one hundred percent about it -
Minus 1 at least.
People are starting to break down. I saw some crying and fits, but considering I was getting to feeling like that myself I didn’t record them. But wait, what’s this??? Another blue suit!!! We’re saved!!! But maybe not…….
Oh man. You can’t hear it on the recording, but 40 hearts just broke at the same time. Minus 2 for unprofessional speaking technique over the mic.
So now it’s midnight. And we’re till there waiting for word and a flight crew. Then, magically, at 1 am, both arrive. We’re actually going to go, and we all hug. Everyone on the plane which is slightly bigger then a cigar holder, and I essentially suck on my knees the whole time, but we’re flying.
We arrive in Fredericton just after 3 am. Thank you little plane. AC definitely left a sour taste in my mouth after the day’s experience, but I was willing to somewhat forgive and forget. The trip home however sealed the deal. The coles notes version-
- my flight on Jan. 1st was canceled, and after calling 2 times and waiting on hold for over an hour each time, I could pay an upgrade cost and get booked on a flight for the 9th. A little longer then I expected vacation to be, but I didn’t have much choice.
- jan 2nd, I get a message at 11pm telling me my flight has been changed to that night at 1:30 am, and my other booking canceled. Problem is that there’s no way I could have gotten there in time. Thanks AC, but it’s not happening. After another 2 phone calls and 2 hours waiting time, I’m informed they can put me on a flight on the 11th. Wow.
- Jan 3rd I begin calling pretty much every 2 hours and finally nail down a flight for the 6th, then later on for the 5th. Good enough.
- Jan 5th, we sit in the plane at the gate in halifax due to ” a mechanical problem” for an hour and half. I think they only sold tickets on that flight to screaming children, because I was surrounded on all sides by babies who cried louder then I thought possible. For a while it was actually impressive. When we finally due leave and arrive in Tornonto, we sit 3 feet from the loading gate because they couldn’t fin their crew who were supposed to dock us. For 45 minutes. Minus 2 for that debacle.
So where does that leave us score wise? Considering out of a possible 10 points AC lost 11.5, I think that’s a fail. The sad thing is it all came down to lack of customer service and communication. Ghost like employees and mis leading flight times on boards don’t make for understanding patrons. If you have to take a trip, hitch hike, walk, take a train, teleport, but don’t support a company who won’t support you.