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Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Message in a Bottle
So dear friends and gentle readers,

I spent the better part of the day tracking my luggage down and listening to 45 minutes of Pachelbel's Canon while I was on hold with the ticket agent for Expedia.com trying to confirm a refund on my air travel from yesterday's debacle.

Using Air Canada's on-line luggage tracking website, I was able to determine that my luggage is at least on its way to being delivered. However, the luggage finder logo on the website is this:

Let me ask you. Does this engender any confidence that your luggage will ever appear again? "Yeah - let's just toss a random message in a bottle into the ocean. I'm sure we'll be rescued in no time at all." I mean, WTF?

All griping aside, I did want to note something positive from this whole, awful experience. To a person, every ticket agent, reservation specialist, baggage handler, or customer service rep I dealt with both yesterday and today, were nothing but kind, considerate, courteous and genuinely sympathetic to a situation that was beyond all control. Of course, a tired, stressed out, middle aged woman with tears streaming down her cheeks probably engendered some pity, but I was very embarrassed by the asshats who took their frustrations out on these people who were simply trying to do their job under very stressful circumstances, and who were at no fault in any of this. Remember folks - don't kill the messenger.

Common courtesy and cooperation get you a lot farther in these situations than trying to throw your weight and attitude around. You get what you give.

I'm just sayin.

Despite this mess (and an unfortunate luggage tracking logo), I would fly Air Canada again simply because their customer service was above all helpful, but also kind, courteous and professional. That's more than I can say for their clientele.
posted by Broadsheet @ 6:12 PM  
1 Editorial Opinions:
  • At August 27, 2005, Anonymous Dakota said…

    Your experience was a very unique one; fly them a few more times and you'll likely understand what I mean.

    Last weekend a storm came into Toronto and while other carriers were flying towards Toronto and holding up in places like Buffalo until it passed, Air Canada decided to cancel all remaining flights for the day. I was attempting to come home after several days in New York on business; they routed me through Montreal on Saturday. That flight was delayed and although 95% of the passengers were trying to get to Toronto, they did not hold the connecting flight and the next (last) flight of the day was sold-out. So now I had to spend the night in Montreal to get to Toronto on Sunday morning. 36 hours for what should be a 1 hour flight.

    Then last night, I was flying back to New York (glutton for punishment?) and just at take-off the plane took a mechanical delay. We were held on the plane for 3 hours, without even so much as water being handed out. We were taken back to the terminal and many passengers stated that they would not get on the next plane without their luggage. The gate agents promised everyone that their luggage would be transferred.

    Four of us decided that it was now too late (midnight) for us to fly. As they finally took us to the front of the terminal, they admitted that they had lied to those passengers and that it was not possible to transfer the bags and get the flight off to beat the curfew at Laguardia. So, they felt it was better to lie to 96 people so that they would not have to put them up in hotels but deal with lost luggage at Laguardia. I pity the poor baggage claim agent in Laguardia who had to deal with that frustration. To add to this, they would not give us our bags back as there was no staff to unload the aircraft and the baggage claim staff had left for the evening.

    Twelve hours later they still had no idea what had happened to the bags that had never left Toronto. The baggage call centre is now located in India, although they use N. American names like Mandy & Crystal. They could not provide any details about the baggage nor could they contact anyone at Air Canada in Toronto to find out what the status was.

    While discussing this with the call centre for over 2 hours, my partner drove to the airport and finally located a baggage claim agent. The agent stated that they had never been advised that some passengers decided not to take the flight. Additionally only a few of the bags were placed on the morning flight and 70+ bags were still sitting in Toronto waiting to be placed on a flight to NYC; INCLUDING OURS!

    We have the bag back in our possession, after 14 hours, only through our persistent efforts, and the online tracking still indicates that they have no idea where the bag is. I can only imagine the frustration being experienced by those 96 people who trusted what they were being told and still don't have their luggage.

    Colleagues of mine that were with me in NYC last week were routed home through Chicago and all 6 of them had their luggage lost; with minimal support from any one and the environment was to push the problem along to the next person.

    This airline has a history of arrogance and customer service is not a part of their vocabulary and generally ethics is also not a part of how they behave. They file bankruptcy, force pay cuts on all employees but spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new livery, and then decide that the savings of moving 50 jobs from Montreal to India is so necesary to cut costs.

    When the planets are aligned and things go well with this airline, it's great; when there is any situation that causes irregular operations, they fail miserably. I have caught this airline in many many lies over the years and although they profess to care about customer service and even created a Czar of customer service, it continues to decline rather than improve.

    Good luck on any future flights you choose to take with this airline. I dream of a return to the days of a 2nd national carrier so that consumers have a choice.

     
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