If you are planning to fly with Air Canada or use Air Canada Vacations; you should read this:
- A last minute decision to down size the plane, results in delays while passengers are encouraged to give up their seats for a later flight.
- Once boarded, there is another delay to retrieve the luggage for those that gave up their seats. The result is the plane is now not balanced, and ballast is required…an employee is sent to retrieve and return with sand bags….not enough…another trip is required to get more bags. Each trip takes approximately 15-20 minutes. The plane is still not right. Extra fuel is requested and added to fix the situation….another 20 minutes goes bye.
- Because of a snap decision to change out the planes and the incompetence to get it balanced for flight in a timely manner, results in us arriving in Montreal 1 hour and 13 late for a flight that was supposed to be 17 minutes long.
- The flight attendant tells us we have maybe 10 minutes to get to our gate to make our connection.
- We sprint through the airport, along the way we hear an employee ask over a portable radio to hold the plane for late arriving passengers at gate 48. However no such request is made for our gate. We arrive to see our plane still there but we are told we are too late. Our plane remains at the gate for another 5 minutes; it pushes away and then stays stationary for a further 5 minutes. It is explained to us that although we have arrived, our bags have not; therefore we can not board the plane.
- Why were the passengers for gate 48 able to board their flight without their luggage? If we could not board without ours, why were we ever told to run for our connecting flight?
- The Customer Service Manager for Air Canada at Dorval assists us. They will put us on a flight to Toronto today, and then fly to our final destination the following day, but there are no return flights 7 days later. The next available flight home is 2 days after that. There are 4 economy and 5 business class seats available. An inquiry is made through Air Canada Vacations to our resort and there are no problems to accommodate this change. There will be an additional charge for the extra nights. The customer service manager speaks to a rep at Air Canada Vacations and tells them that we are to fly home using 2 of the 5 available business class spots. He is authorizing this with his name, and he wants this noted on our file. We are sent on our way; told to try and think of this as an extra getaway, and to enjoy a nice hotel and romantic dinner in Toronto on them.
- We get to Pearson International and go to Air Canada Customer Services. It takes 2 hours to get the name of our hotel. We are directed outside the building to a specific pillar location, and told that shuttles run continuously every 10 minutes and to watch for the one that will take us to our hotel. After waiting for 1 hour and 10 minutes outside in the snow and ice, dressed only in jeans and spring coats, we return frozen inside to inquire as to why our shuttle has not come. Only then are we told that that particular motel shuttle has to be requested by phone or it will be sent out.
- A person from Air Canada Vacations calls our cell phone and asks us to confirm our new flight home. By confirming the flight at this time, we are told that we are agreeing to pay the extra money. We point out that it was not our fault that our connection was late, and we would like to talk to a supervisor about this. We are told no one is available on weekends. Our shuttle has arrived and not wanting to risk further delays we explain we have to hang up; we ask if she could give us an extension, or direct line, so we could call her back with an answer when we arrive at the motel. We are told none exists, but if we call the emergency number we will have no problem speaking to an agent.
- We arrive at a motel that is understaffed and going through repairs. We call Air Canada Vacations from our room at 5:30 pm, and are on automated hold for the next 30 minutes until the office closes at 6:00 pm. We don’t get to talk to any agent as we feared. At this time we leave a detailed voice mail indicating that we will take the later flight home, and could someone please call our cell number to indicate that this voice mail was received, and that our new seats are confirmed. A cold chicken dinner arrives at the front desk around 8:30 pm, if we want a coke there is a machine upstairs. We are too tired to eat; we go to bed…so much for the nice hotel and romantic dinner in Toronto.
- The motel front desk asks for our flight departure time the night before, and we schedule the appropriate airport shuttle for first thing in the morning. The wakeup call we asked for doesn’t come, only through sheer luck do we wake up on our own, and rush in time to get the bus. No time to eat. The shuttle is overbooked and there is a small panicky dash by the group to get a seat. We get on, but others don’t and are clearly upset.
- When we arrive at our hotel in Ocho Rios Jamaica, we were told that an Air Canada Vacations rep would be there to meet us. Staff at the hotel tells us there is no rep, and they have no new information for us. They put us on the phone with the Destinations Manager for Air Canada Vacations Jamaica. We explain to her our situation, and that we have not heard anything back regarding the confirmation of our voice mail indicating our plans to fly home 2 days later than originally planed.
- She calls us back saying she checked with the airline, and now there is only 1 seat available on the later flight. We ask her to check again, she calls back saying we are booked, but not business class as had been instructed?! She has no idea why, and no idea why our voice mail message placed from our Toronto motel room was not responded too?! Disappointed and puzzled, we again explain that we feel that we should not have to incur the extra costs caused by the delay of our initial flight to Montreal, and will she inquire with her supervisor about it. I ask her if I am talking to Canada by phone right now, and she says “yes”.
- The next day we receive a letter in our room from Air Canada Vacations explaining that we are to pay the extra charges and that a representative would be sent to our hotel to collect the money…there are no answers to any of our inquires. It finishes by saying please do not hesitate to contact us, and leaves 2 phone numbers. Neither of which has an area code. I spend a frustrating hour in our room with the hotel switch board trying different Canadian area codes to get in touch with them…no success. The next day we show the letter to hotel staff at the front desk, they recognise the number and tell us that the number is local. She works from Jamaica?! Again...when I talked to her I specifically asked her if I was talking to Canada!
- New Year’s Eve at 6:02 pm we receive a second letter at our room indicating that a check with the airlines confirmed that there were no return flights until 2 days later, and that until we consent to pay the extra money our return date remains on the original date, which shortens our vacation by a day. The letter suggests that we are in jeopardy of losing our seats, and that we should respond as soon as possible! The letter has no contact name, or phone numbers on it?! The title head is in black and white, not the colour red like the first letter, leading us to believe it was possibly faxed or emailed from head office…maybe a supervisor? The Air Canada Vacations office is now closed for the night and all of tomorrow because of the holiday. We have no way of responding to the letter for the next 36 hours. Will we lose our flight home?? Who is this letter from? How are we to proceed?
- First thing Jan.2nd/13 I call the Air Canada Vacations rep, she gives me her supervisor number in Montreal Canada…this person is unwilling to help us.
- We ask for her supervisor’s number…This person is the acting boss for Air Canada Vacations…and she is unwilling to help us.
- At this point we just want this situation resolved. We make a conciliatory offer to split the difference with Air Canada Vacations and pay half the extra charges…she tells us no. We surrender to her demands and inform her we would pay all of the extra charges. Within 20 minutes a gentleman is in the lobby of our Hotel from Air Canada Vacations to collect the money.
- Why is it no one from the Air Canada Vacation’s office could come down in person to help us rectify this problem over these last 5 days, but when it comes to collecting their money, someone is there in a moments notice? What does this say about the priorities of this organization??
- During our back and forth dealings with the Jamaican rep, we had been offered an upgraded room for the last 2 days. The person we are now dealing with knows nothing of this. His boss is not available for contact to follow up on this…she is in a “meeting”. The rep inquires with the hotel, and we are offered another room, a different location, but the same category of room, with an identical set up as we have now. No upgrade. We thanked him and declined.
- During our flight home, we are approached by a flight attendant and informed that today is “our lucky day”, and we are told that someone from Air Canada Vacations has left instructions for us to have free Quiznos pizza. We thanked her and declined.
- We planned for and scheduled a 7 day vacation that had been bought and paid for well in advance. Extending the trip meant 2 days without pay for my girlfriend. The fact that no flight was available until 2 days later was not within our control, and it was not our fault we were in this situation, as such we should not be penalized for it. Nor should we be forced to shorten our vacation by a day, because of someone else’s mistake. The delay of flight AC8770 was clearly preventable. A series of mistakes and poor judgements contributed to the flight being overdue by one hour and thirteen minutes. This was not a weather related problem, or mechanical situation. This was a last minute decision to down size the plane and the resulting incompetence of the crew to get it safely balanced properly in time for flight. The resulting domino effect caused my girlfriend and I $770 in US funds for the hotel, and 2 days lost pay, plus stress and aggravation. We were willing to absorb the lost pay, but felt the extra charge for the hotel should have been picked up by Air Canada.
- Our biggest disappointment throughout this ordeal was the lack of support and help we received from Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations. Ironically we picked their companies over other choices because of their name and reputation. We thought if we had any trouble or difficulties on our vacation we could count on them to help.
- How wrong we were....
- When we arrived home we received a letter of explanation from Air Canada Vacations but no compensation. Air Canada offered us 25% off 2 future airline tickets.
- These are the facts…we leave it up to you on whether you will want to use either of these 2 companies in the future.
Brent Donnelly and Sylvie Thom