This was supposed to be a quick in and out business trip to Dallas… instead it turned into a typical Air Canada customer service disaster. Granted, they managed to get me to and from Dallas alive – but that’s about all they did right.

Below is the email I sent to Air Canada this morning detailing my trip. $10 says they never bother to even get back to me. Oh, and by the way, I still don’t have my bag.

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To: Air Canada
From: Noah Sidel
Date: August 3, 2011

Hello,

I am writing to you this morning following the absolute worst travel experience of my life. I booked my trip from Montreal to Dallas via Toronto over a month ago, leaving July 31 and returning Aug. 2. I paid for my tickets and even paid for upgrades to Executive Class on two of the four flights.

The problems began on my first flight (AC421), which left roughly 45 minutes late from Montreal on July 31. I spoke with the agent at the gate in Montreal and explained to her that I would have an extremely tight time frame to make my connection because of the late departure and she said there was nothing she could do to help other than wish me luck in Toronto.

I arrived in Toronto with about 30 minutes to make my flight instead of the hour and 10 minutes I should have had, if the flight was actually on time. I ran all the way to the connecting baggage carousel and had to wait 20 minutes before my bag came through – meanwhile, I could see I was running out of time to make my 7:25 p.m. flight and I went to the baggage desk to see if the customer service people there could do anything to help.

The man at the desk, who refused to give me his name, blew me off while leaning on the counter nonchalantly saying “come back when your bag comes, I’m not helping you.” So, now feeling extremely pressured, I went back to the carousel and my bag finally came out. I then went to the desk he pointed me to and explained to the lady there that I had 9 minutes to make my flight and she very coldly said – and these were her exact words – “you’re kicked off that flight, you’re not getting to Dallas tonight.”

She then proceeded to lecture me on my choice of flights, saying – and again, these are her exact words – “you chose a bad flight, you should have left earlier. This is your fault and I’m not helping you – go see the other agent and she’ll help you. I don’t care that you missed your flight.”

Now, I’m not sure how that can possibly be considered acceptable, but this woman – who also, of course, refused to give me her name – treated me like total garbage and made me extremely, extremely upset. The next person I saw, her name was Emma, actually did help me a little bit and was actually polite – she arranged my hotel and flight the next morning and apologized for her colleague’s rude behaviour (she saw what happened).

Now we’re into Sunday night and I have to tell my clients in Dallas I’m not making my morning meetings because my flight was late and I missed my connection – ruining not only my plans, but also those of several people who were waiting on me…

On Monday morning, I arrived at the airport at 5:30 a.m. for my 8:20 a.m. flight (AC7991) – once again, I did my part by paying for a flight and showing up on time. That flight did not leave until about 9 a.m., once again, putting off all of the plans I had pushed back once already, and inconveniencing many people in Dallas who were waiting on me.

Finally, I arrived in Dallas, hoping that the bad part of my trip was over and the return would be much smoother.

On Tuesday, I again arrived at the airport with ample time to make my flight (AC7996), and it too left roughly a half hour late, making that three out of three flights that weren’t even close to being on time.

Then I arrived in Toronto and was booked on (AC7784) at 12:30 a.m., so I managed to get on AC430 that left at 10:30 p.m. on standby. The gate agent looked me in the eye as I boarded and said “I’ve called down and your bag is fine, it’ll make it to Montreal with you on this flight.”

Well, that didn’t happen at all. I waited at Trudeau Airport for over an hour and my bag didn’t arrive. Then I went to baggage services and the man behind the counter promised me – again, exact words – “your bag will be at your house first thing tomorrow morning.” So I left – and now it’s 10 a.m. and my bag still isn’t here. On top of that, the woman who called this morning to see if I was home told me “your bag will arrive at some time today, no time guaranteed” and hung up on me.

So… on a simple two-day business trip, I had three flights leave very late, missed a connection because of that, was blamed by an agent for my choice of flights, missed two meetings because of the late flights, and not only did my baggage not arrive in Montreal with me, but I can’t even go to work this morning because the bag still isn’t here and I’m afraid if I leave, I’ll never get my bag at all.

Is this the kind of experience I should expect from Air Canada? My company is planning another trip for me in September (also Executive Class) to Chicago for a few days, and I believe we were planning on using Air Canada again. Should I ask them to change that? Or can Air Canada guarantee me at least a basic level of service this time?

Please let me know what Air Canada is going to do to make up for this awful trip.

Thank you,
Noah Sidel

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