Trawling through old emails tonight I stumbled across this gem and had to share. I know I have relayed many a travel-horror story to loads of people, but I had actually forgotten how bad this particular one was. I have not embellished the story in the slightest, this is word for word what happened. It is my letter of complaint to Air Canada after all and I doubt they’d entertain sensationalist rantings.
Montreal Airport at about 2am
I am writing to complain about the quality of your service. I flew with you on the 2nd of October, my destination being Boston MA, and when I checked in with the carrier operating the first of my three flights (BMI to London Heathrow) I specifically asked whether or not my bags would be checked the whole way through to my final destination in Boston and I was assured they would be. I have traveled to North America on many occasions in the passed few years so I am always very cautious and make myself aware of every detail before departure. My first two flights went smoothly and all seemed fine until I got through both Canadian Customs and US Customs in Montreal. Once I had been cleared at US Customs I was asked to wait for a moment (which turned into half an hour) while they checked something. To my surprise I was then asked if I had forgotten to collect my bag when I got off the plane. I explained that no I hadn’t forgotten but that I had been told my bag would be checked to Boston. They then had to get airport police to escort me back through the airport to collect my bag. Once I got my bag I raced back to the Air Canada check-in desk and there was no-one there. My flight was at 8pm and this was at 7pm. When a representative finally arrived she told me that the flight was closed and there were no others that night. Not only that but I was left standing at the ticketing desk while your staff took forever to deal with every customer. I finally managed to get the attention of a supervisor and he raced me to a check-in desk but couldn’t get me on the flight
because it was 7:50pm at this stage. I can’t help but think that the staff member I talked to just after 7pm could have helped me. Anyway, the supervisor said that all he could do was book me on a flight in the morning and I was left to sleep in the airport. I have several friends who encountered the same problem with other airlines yet they were put up in hotels without a second thought. At this point I was so far beyond upset I decided to just go and find a seat for the night.
The next morning I was the first to check in for my 6:45am flight to Boston, however I was told once I got to the gate that the attendant hadn’t shown up and we were forced to wait an extra 45 minutes while a replacement was found. After he arrived everything else went smoothly and the flight to Boston was a pleasant one.
My return flights on the 7th of October from Newark, NJ started badly also. Due to bad winds I was checking the flight’s status for several hours before I left for the airport. My flight was due to depart at 7:30pm and I arrived at Newark at 5:30pm to check in. Even though the trip from where I was staying in NJ to the airport is a half an hour and I had seen that the flight was still on schedule before I left, when I arrived to check-in I was told it had been canceled over an hour ago. I was then told I was booked on to the 9pm flight but the staff member on the desk said that I would probably miss my connecting flight in Toronto because of the weather. He then suggested that he could transfer me to the 7pm Continental flight direct to Dublin but that I would have to run to Terminal C (from Terminal A) in order to check in before the flight closed. I waited patiently while he spoke to someone on the phone and filled out forms etc before racing to Terminal C. He had assured me that they knew I was coming. Upon my arrival at Terminal C (less then 10 minutes later) however I was not allowed to check-in because the Continental representative maintained that they had not been made aware that I was coming and that the flight had already closed. I then had to go back to Terminal A and discuss my options with the same staff member. I decided it was best to take him up on a flight the following day departing at 4:10pm and my friend and I left the airport. I would like to point out that, had I known my flight was canceled, everything could have been sorted over the phone and I could have been saved the wasted time and also extortionate short-term parking fees at the airport.
The next day (8th of October) when I arrived to check in there were issues with my booking and the very rude staff member made quite an ordeal about sorting me out. I also inquired as to whether or not my specific meal requests (vegetarian) had been transferred and he curtly replied that no, I needed to give them 24 hours notice. After all this I boarded the flight and things seemed to get a bit better. However a member of the cabin crew knocked an adjacent passenger’s small bottle of red wine all over myself and the person sitting beside me and didn’t even stop to apologise. Thankfully I knew to pour my white wine on the stains otherwise I would have had to throw my shirt out when I got home. When it came to dinner the cabin staff were very accommodating and managed to get me a vegetarian meal that hadn’t been claimed. Once I got to London I had literally 45 minutes to get through all the Heathrow security checks in time to check in with BMI for my flight to Dublin. I was told that I didn’t have an e-ticket and that they had 6 minutes to try and sort it out for me. There was also the issue that my bags might not make the flight either. Thankfully I was allowed to check in and caught my flight home. My bags also made it.
I have never had such a dreadful time flying to the States. I never lose me temper nor act irrationally when in transit as I know it gets me absolutely nowhere, but I was so close to tears on many occasions during this trip it was ridiculous. Your company cost me and my friends who were trying to help me out, a lot of time and money, and believe me it is the first and last time I will ever fly Air Canada.”
You might ask why this post is entitled, ‘Sometimes, All You Can Do Is Laugh…’ well here’s your answer. I received a response to my complaint and guess what Air Canada offered me to make up for all my travel hassle? 10% off my next booking with them!! Ha! As you can probably guess I never took them up on that ‘generous’ offer.
Getting ready to sleep in the airport.