To The Pointwith Boris Bozic
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Article written by Boris Bozic on the 23 Jan 2013 in Customer Service

air canada customer compliantThis blog is coming to you late because the last few days have been an “adventure” and my thoughts were somewhat preoccupied.  I write this blog at thirty five thousand feet in the air and my intentions are to share with you some of the worst services levels I have ever encountered while flying.  That’s truly remarkable given the hundreds of flights I have taken.  As an example I flew over seventy six thousand miles with Air Canada alone in 2012.  I thought I saw it all until my most recent trip.

The purpose of my trip was to attend the TMG conference in Mexico.  In no shape or form was my experience a reflection of the conference.  The conference itself was great.  TMG invited Kathy Gregory and me to attend, and to speak during the business session they held for all their brokers attending the conference.  Unfortunately Kathy had to cancel the trip due to circumstances beyond her control but I was going to attend because it was TMG.  The Mortgage Group is a valued customer of ours but more importantly because of my personal relationship with Grant and Debbie Thomas.  If they ask me to attend, I’m there.  I tried to do the right thing by supporting my friends but I also decided that I should get back earlier because plenty of work waits for me at the office.  Simple, no?  Clearly not.  

My Executive Assistant booked a new flight for me to come back last Saturday, meaning that I would only be in Mexico for 48 hours.  No problem, worth the effort for reasons noted above.  I was originally scheduled to come back on the following Tuesday, yesterday.  So there I am on Saturday bidding farewell to those who attended the conference.  Off to the airport I go, along with other conference attendees who were leaving a little earlier.  Of our group I was the last to check in at the Air Canada counter, and this where it gets nuts.  Here’s how the conversation went with the Air Canada employee who was supposed to check me in:

AC Employee:  I’m sorry sir but ju can’t go on de plane because ju name not on de list.

Bozic: It must be some kind of mistake, please check again.

AC Employee: No mistake,  ju name not on de list.

Bozic: (Holding up my iPhone to show him my e-ticket).  Is this an Air Canada confirmation?

AC Employee: Si

Bozic: Is it a confirmation for this flight?

AC Employee: Si

Bozic: Am I getting on this flight?

AC Employee: No

Bozic: Why?

AC Employee: Ju name not on de list.

Bozic: How do I get my name on the list?

AC Employee: Ju got to talk to Air Canada.

Bozic: Is this the Air Canada check in counter?

AC Employee: Si

Bozic: At this moment do you represent Air Canada?

AC Employee: Si

Bozic: Can I talk to you about getting my name on the list.

AC Employee: Si

Bozic: Will you help me to get my name on the list?

AC Employee:  No

Bozic: Why not?

AC Employee: Ju name not on de list.

I am not kidding, and they wouldn’t allow me on the flight.  To make matters worse I contacted Aeroplan, because I have a number that I can call because I’m a “valued” customer at Air Canada.  I call the number and the person on the phone says; “I’m sorry sir but there’s nothing I can do because you booked this trip on-line and not through Aeroplan”.  So Air Canada’s solution was to strand a passenger and not care at all about the damage they were doing to their own brand; strict adherence to an employee procedural manual trumped creative thought and problem solving by Air Canada employees.  I get it, people make mistakes.  But there’s something called duty of care, and in my case Air Canada failed miserably in this regard.   On the other hand, Best Points Travel who didn’t even book my flight back, we’re called upon to see if they could offer any assistance.  They worked the phones tirelessly, calling everyone they could at Air Canada to see if they could get me back home. When they realized that Air Canada didn’t care at all they immediately booked me on a flight with United Airlines the following day.  To Donna and Jennifer at Best Points travel, thank you for doing what Air Canada failed to do, actually giving a damn about a customer.

I have to say the following day got even more comical.  Back to the airport I went on Sunday, this was really starting to look like the movie Groundhog’s Day.  I said goodbye to everyone at the conference, again, jokingly saying I’ll see them at dinner tonight.  I arrived at the airport, checked in at the Untied counter, ecstatic that my name was on the list.  Boarding pass in hand I happily headed to the bar for a nice cold cervesa.  I had few…. because I waited for five hours before United finally announced the flight was cancelled because of bad weather.  Hand to go god I burst out laughing.  I can’t blame United Airlines for bad weather.  It happens, but I never should have been at the airport for that flight.  I was only there because of Air Canada’s total disregard for a customer, and ultimately their hiring practices.

Remember, I was originally booked to come back on the Tuesday, and even with all the changes made to my flights I didn’t cancel the original Tuesday flight.  I also never checked out of my hotel room early because I paid for it until Tuesday.  Thankfully that voice in my head told me not to cancel the original flight and hotel room.  I needed both to preserve some sense of sanity.  And thankfully Sunwing Airlines got me home, and they gave me five hours of flight time to think and craft this blog.  My little blog has had four hundred thousand page visits in just year and half, and now I got to share my Air Canada customer service experience with thousands of people.  I feel a little better now.

Until next time



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Michele Hall @Twitter ID Website Reply

I have traveled with air Canada and both times have nearly missed my plane due to the lack of organization at the check in desk. West Jet seems to have things down to an art !!

Boris- What a great blog… Mine would have had a few more bleeps in it so you did well.
This comes as no surprise to a lot of fellow Air Canada Travelers. Air Canada is the only Airline that can get away with this astonishing customer service plan because they have no fear and do not suffer the same consequences as others might had they adapted this same technique..

This serves us well in our own industry, it proves, the biggest investment we can make in our own business’ is our customer service. It reminds us of who we do not want to be akin to.

From: Stranded in Vancouver after 23 hour flight from Australia, because Air Canada had cancelled our home flight due to it not being full… and had neglected to rebook us and the next flight was full… We had to fly West Jet home .. Although we had paid a round trip from our home city to Air Canada. Hmmmm…

Wayne Campbell, Invis-Prince George @Twitter ID Website Reply

A hundred years ago, when I used to work for Bill Patton, I used to fly between Calgary and Vancouver to see my folks quite often. Some times I took CP Air, other times I took Air Canada, and sometimes I took one airline going, but the other coming back. Being able to compare like that, the difference, the arrogant attitude of the Air Canada employees, was noticable. Eventually I came to regard flying Air Canada like going for a root canal.

I have been flying just WestJet for the last number of years. But apparently nothing has changed with Air Canada.

Thank you for the status update Boris, its ggod to know!

Mike Rogozynski @@OMACmike Website Reply

It really is too bad that customer service means so little, when it’s the customer who ultimately helps make the business successful! It’s of the utmost importance to ensure this isn’t neglected in our business.

We were glad to have you around for a few extra days!

Sadly I have a similar story. It was in 01, I know a long time ago, I should let it go. It was shortly after 9/11. They had just began the practice of checking in 1 hour before departure. It was a regional flight from Vancouver to Kelowna. I was 2 minutes later, so only 58 minutes before my regional flight when the attendant stated, Nope, you cannot board. You have to be here an hour before. The banter continued and at the end of the day I had to wait 5 hours for the afternoon flight to get home. I could have driven faster.
Never have quite forgiven them for that. I see nothing has changed.

Leann Scarlett @Twitter ID Website Reply

Thank You Boris….
even tho you went through a crazy ordeal with Air Canada, I would like to thank you for the laughter you brought to my office today … si … you made us laugh … you have a terrific way of writing and getting your point accross. Frustrating as it must have been for you, I am sure you will look back at this blog and put a smile on your face as well. A learning experience you shared with us all … when in disbelief keep asking questions :)

Air Can't-ada @Twitter ID Website Reply

Air Canada should change their motto to “Were not happy until you’re not happy”
My story is the same as Kelly’s except that the manager had actually closed the flight a minute early, refused to allow us to check in since luggage had already been loaded, and refused to let me board with my suitcase as carry-on even though it would have fit under the seat in front of me with plenty of space to spare. He also refused to let me send my bag on the next flight as apparently bags aren’t allowed to fly alone. (As a previous hotel front desk agent, I know this to be beyond false as Air Canada is notorious in the hotel industry for losing people’s bags and having them delivered in the middle of the night or even a day or two after the guest had arrived.) I was so upset at how the manager was dealing with the situation I burst into tears in front of a line-up of customers and he showed ZERO compassion. Needless to say I spent the next 5 hours getting increasingly drunk and loudly badmouthing Air Canada throughout the entire airport.
Oh and i can’t forget to mention that the reason we were anywhere near the time cut-off was because the Calgary airport was undergoing major construction which re-routed traffic around the entire airport property eating up at very least 15 minutes of our time as there was no clear signage to direct cars to the new entrance.
I only booked Air Canada because it was $9 cheaper than WestJet. Well after the $375 it cost to get tickets on the next departing plane, I regret not eating the $9 difference and actually ENJOYING my flight.
Never. Booking. Air Canada. Again.

I have personally gone to great lengths to avoid Air Canada. Never had a good experience with them. Why o why do they not care about their customers?

To the Point with Bozic || AIR MILES: I Admit It, I’m Addicted Website Reply

[...] years I have shared some of my flying experiences with Air Canada. Like a couple years ago when an Air Canada attendant in Mexico wouldn’t let me board because my name wasn’t on a list wh….  It was in the computer, but….I have to stop now because if I keep going down memory lane I [...]

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