• Nov
    2

    Worst Airline Experience Ever!!!

     

    After a difficult experience with Air Canada on a flight to Maui, I wrote to tell them about my experience.

    November 2, 2009

    Air Canada

    Re: Ticket Number: xxxxxxxxxx
    Booking Reference: xxxxx

    To Whom It May Concern:

    Congratulations, Air Canada. In over 30 years of airline travel (and 400+ flights), I just experienced the worst service ever with your airline!!

    When I went to check in online, I was given the option of Economy Plus for both the flight to Los Angeles and the flight from there to Maui. I chose both, since I’m 6’4” and need the extra legroom. The first flight (AC4142) was a small jet. When I got to my seat, I couldn’t see any difference between it and the seats around it and it was obvious that I didn’t get what I paid for. Fortunately, I was able to negotiate a bulkhead seat, for free. Still, it was far from ideal. I wound up next to an obese woman whose bulk overflowed the seat and I wound up spending much of the flight leaning away from her. It was extremely uncomfortable.

    On the second flight (AC5243), the Economy Plus service lived up to its advertising and I had a good flight.
    Coming back from Maui, (AC058), I used your online check in service, booked seat 19F and checked a bag, but there was a blank spot in front of my seat in the seat diagram and I was unsure of what it was. When I called in to ask about it, I wound up with an agent who was quite angry with me for getting that seat, telling me that they shouldn’t have been available and that all bulkhead seats were reserved for babies, bassinets and people with disabilities. Yet, the seating area was clearly available online. I asked her about getting a first class seat, but she quoted me another $1,500.00 on top of what I’d already paid. That was outrageously expensive, and I turned it down. Next, I asked her about making a change to an exit seat. She told me that I’d have to wait until I got to the airport for that seat assignment and I decided to do so. Also, she rebuked me for my request about legroom and she started comparing me to her husband, who, she said, was even taller than me. That really irked me. This was about meeting my request, not diluting it with her personal issues!

    When I got to the airport, I was greeted with a long lineup and no Air Canada personnel in sight. I wanted to find out where the express lineup was to drop off my checked bag, and I walked to the counter next to the Air Canada lineup. I spoke with a Hawaiian Airlines ticket agent who informed me that there was no express check in and that I’d have to wait in the regular lineup (roughly an hour long) to check my bag.

    I was furious! What’s the point of offering an express online checking service if you still have to check in with everyone else?

    Fortunately, the agent noted that I only had carry-on luggage and she told me that I could bypass the check-in and go directly to the gate. Kudos to Hawaiian Airlines.

    As a side note, my girlfriend was traveling on WestJet, and she chose the same advanced check-in option as me. She breezed right up to the front of the designated line and her bag was checked in within a minute.

    When I got to the gate, there were no Air Canada personnel to speak with. They only showed up 15 minutes before the flight. When I went to change my seat, I met the same Hawaiian Airlines agent who informed me that (Air Canada) sub-contracts, but these agents weren’t wearing Air Canada uniforms, so I had no idea who they were. Again, I tried for an exit seat but was told that none were available. I spoke of my issues with the online agent, and the Hawaiian Airlines agent backed me up, saying that my choice was OK.

    When I arrived at my seat, I found a woman sitting there with a baby, waiting for her husband. She informed me that while their seat assignment was some rows back, they had really wanted this seat and moved there, despite the fact that I had a reserved seat. Further, the she told me that when they got the bassinet, it would encroach on my seat space and I wouldn’t be able to stretch out. To claim my seat would have meant an argument with these people, who clearly made it known that their needs were more important than my own. This angered me immensely. No one told me this up front and it was obvious I was being bumped.

    I made my way to the front of the aircraft to get a new seat assignment, but quickly discovered the flight was nearly full and few seats were available. I was told by the flight attendants to go up the ramp and talk to the ticket agents. I did and met them coming down. They then directed me back to the flight attendants. I was getting pretty flustered by this time since it seemed that no one wanted to help me. Finally, the ticket agents took charge and found me a seat at the back of the aircraft, but then I had no room for my carry-on luggage. It was sheer luck that the seat beside me was empty and I could stow my laptop. Not so with my other bag, which was moved ten rows further up.

    My new seat was too small and when the passenger in front put his seat back, I had no room for my knees and I was jammed in tight. I was able to turn sideways but I had no way of sitting forward without being pinned in my seat. It was extremely cramped and uncomfortable!

    Kudos to the flight attendant who finally helped me find a seat and also encouraged me to file a complaint with Air Canada.

    In summary, the online check-in was worthless since it wasn’t backed up by personnel on-site to check the express bags.

    Then there’s the bulkheads Issue. If they were only available for babies, bassinets and people with disabilities, they should have been blocked off. Not doing so caused me a lot of unnecessary stress and grief. Further, I was being held responsible for what was clearly an issue on your end, which I find unacceptable. When I got back home, I wound up with severe headache and nausea. I was sick for the better part of a day, no doubt caused partly by the stress I encountered as a result of your “service.”

    In view of this disastrous and appalling service, I will accept nothing less than a full refund, of both the flight and the Economy Plus service, which I feel was very misleading. The full airfare cost was $550.30USD and the Economy Plus upgrade cost was $96.00USD for a total of $646.30USD.

    To give you an indication of just how serious and upset I am about this, I’ve posted this story to my blog (travelswithnathan.com), I’ve sent out a tweet to my list of 419 followers (with the header: “Worst Airline Experience Ever”) and I’ve also made a posting to my Facebook account of over 100 friends.

    Sincerely,

    Nathan Segal

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