December 16, 2015

Getting the customer service we deserve

I’m writing this from the Halifax airport as I’m approaching my 25th consecutive hour without sleep (I’ve had a lot of caffeine, obvi). Lots of things are on my mind this morning, but the most significant thing I’m dying to share with you is my deep, DEEP, passionate hate for airline customer service. 

I don’t want to attack Air Canada as a whole, because I’m sure there are lots of reasons and points by which they stand that proves they are a reputable and trustworthy airline to travel by. But, I AM going to attack Air Canada with regard to the flaws they have in their customer service sector and communications department. The bold, italicized quotations are direct from Air Canada employees that I recently dealt with face to face.

We don’t see what’s behind the curtain in these corporate companies. 
We engage with people who have (or are supposed to, in this case) customer service skills and we use these services based upon reviews and past experiences. And let me tell you, I have heard NOTHING but awful, awful criticism surrounding Air Canada and the disregard they have for their passengers’ opinions and satisfaction. 

"You don't have to choose Air Canada if you're unpleased."

I am travelling with Air Canada this morning from Halifax to Toronto. I arrived to the airport hours early to check in and get settled into my gate before my endeavour. I was with a group of friends, which did make the time pass by relatively quick; however, after spending hours and hours and hours awake and functioning without any sleep, it makes for a long 12am-6am. No one likes to be in the airport to begin with, let alone to be in the airport and treated like shit by an associate of the company you are trusting to safely transport you by aircraft at 350km/h at 30,000ft above the ground.  
Which reminds me… the past 3 flights I’ve had with Air Canada have been delayed at least an hour due to “mechanical issues”. Oh. Great. 

In October, I had a connecting flight from Toronto to Halifax with a stop in Fredericton to switch planes. Due to awful traffic, I made it to the airport 10 minutes after check-in closed for my flight. I still had to get my boarding pass, check my bag, and make my way through security. I explained my situation to the lady at the customer service desk, and the ONLY remark she had was “Well why didn’t you check in on your phone? If you did that, we wouldn’t have this issue now, would we?” UM EXCUSE ME? I was too stressed to deal with that issue in that moment, and I sincerely regret letting her get away with that. But it’s whatever, I guess. Oh, and then she tried to charge me $670 for the next flight to Halifax… the next evening. Long story short, I got my way onto the flight I was late checking in for. It just took a bit of inner strength and courage to speak up. 

“You’re on your own.” 

Air Canada sucks. I normally wouldn’t express my personal finances, but I have to strongly affirm that I have spent nearly $3000 THIS! YEAR! in services from Air Canada (domestic flights only). This may not seem like a lot, but for a student, it’s A WHOLE HELL OF A LOT. 

So, apparently checking a single suitcase costs money now? $28.75, exact. I got curious as to where the weird dollar amount and 3 quarters were included in the total, and as I did some further research, so to speak, it turns out that there is actually a tax charge (15%) to check your luggage. 

WHY! ON! EARTH! DOES THE GOVERNMENT NEED MY MONEY TO STORE A BAG UNDER A PLANE?!?! (This goes for all airlines that fly domestically, but still, it’s 6:30am and I’m mad). There will be room to store my bag regardless of whether or not I pay for it to be put there or not! Seriously. Fuck that. 

I fully expressed my opinion to the lady working at the service desk (I didn’t attack her, because it’s not her fault that it costs $28.75). I expected her to be understanding of the situation - that I am a student, I have already paid copious amounts of my money to Air Canada, and that there would be room for my luggage regardless of whether I paid or not. I expected her to at least try to further help me understand the entire situation, or to provide me with someone who could either explain it better, or, resolve my complaint. She didn’t. And her manner was just straight-up blasphemous all together.

“There’s nothing we can do about this issue, ma’am.”

Unless you’ve flown Air Canada or have had past experiences dealing with their incompetent, lazy, apathetic representatives, then it’s unlikely that you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Like I said, I don’t want to allege Air Canada AS A WHOLE, because I know a few people who do work for this airline and are great at what they do! But as for the 99% that suck…get it together, guys. Please. For the sake of your company. 

I have always had such amazing customer service with WestJet, and every experience, both on and off the plane, have always been exceptional. They have phenomenal customer service, and you can most definitely tell that their first priority is the passenger. A friend recently missed his flight (through WestJet), and within ten minutes a customer service representative had him booked free of charge for the next flight directly to his destination. Ha, AS IF Air Canada would ever do that. Keep it up WestJet, you’re doing it right. 

I flew Porter a few times between Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax. I had great experiences with them, too. Amazing service staff. Professional flight attendants. The pilot even shook my hand as I was getting on the plane! On a previous flight, I had a connection in Montreal between Halifax and Toronto, and I had to switch planes. The flight I was on between Halifax and Montreal was continuing to Toronto thereafter… and the flight attendant went out of her way to keep me on board so that I didn't have to wait two hours for my next flight. Oh, and FREE WINE. How can I complain about that? Good job, Porter. 

I will keep my word when I say that from here on in, I will be informing others of Air Canada’s blatant disregard for their passengers. I have 4 more flights with Air Canada (booked prior to this experience), and then that will be all. Until they get their shit together, at least. I have faith in you, Air Canada. You can do it. 

For my sake and sanity, I hope they serve decent coffee on the plane today, and I hope you all cross better paths than I.

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