Last week (Sunday) work took me and a colleague to Canada, to undertake a business process that had to be done in person. As is normal , a suit, etc is order of the day, so even though I was only away for a few days i packed a case to put in the hold.
We were booked with Air Canada, someone who I have used on many occasions and never had an issue. I arrived at the newly opened Terminal 2 Heathrow in plenty of time, so you can imagine I was surprised when I was given a standby ticket. Turns out my colleague was as well, and she had checked in prior to me !
Anyway, we both got on the plane but were seated separately. So far so good. On arrival in Toronto, customs was cleared quickly, and we were good to go. Except my case didn’t arrive. At all. This had never happened to me despite all my travels, so I guess it was just my turn. I went to the baggage services area, handed over my luggage ticket and was told they had no idea where my case was and I had to take a different numbered ticket and a 1-888 phone number. I was also told (after asking twice) I could have $50 to replace the clothes I didn’t have but was not given any clue to obtain this, apart from dial the number. So on arrival at my hotel, I tried the number, and was promptly put on hold for 20 minutes with no answer.
Remember I said I had a meeting? A really important meeting? Well that was the next day and i needed clobber. Quickly. Turns out the shopping centre was shutting 15 mins after my arrival, so one quick dash around later, I was sorted ($350, not $50 !).
The next day went as well as expected, except still no case. And the calls were still not being answered after 20 mins (twice this time !). I also used the website (several times) which handily told me my case had not been located and to check back later. So far not so good. A little update goes a long way. Twitter was a little better, with some replies, but basically they told me to phone the helpline (that helpline!)
Eventually it did turn up 2 days after I saw it last, so no harm done (except I’m out of pocket). The rest of the trip was normal, right up until we checked in to come home. Standby, both of us. Again. Except this time when we get to the gate, it appears at least 20 people are in the same boat. We are first told in no uncertain terms to not queue at the gate desk unless our name is called. That is a bit tricky when you don’t know what names have been called. Anyway once we cleared that up, we waited for our names. However after 15-20 minutes they start to board. I nip back up to the desk , and after a few mins we are given tickets. Notice, no names were called. My question is, if I hadn’t, would we of got our tickets? I’ll be honest, I don’t think so. As mentioned several people were in this position, including one elderly New Zealander who had ended up in Toronto a day earlier due to AC not being able to get her to LA. This meant she would be in London one day early to meet her son, who she couldn’t contact. No good.
We land the next morning, and guess what, even though they have a standby baggage system in operation in Toronto involving another sticker especially for this situation. Yep, one case was lost, but not mine this time, my colleagues’. Off we trot again to lost luggage and we don’t get a sticker or a number, just a form. The same form as the other 20+ people. And it took nearly 1.30 hours to get to this stage.
So, in short, 4 flight tickets, no seat numbers, two delayed bags, and not a word of apology. And at least one person 3500 miles from where she should be a day early. The money is not an issue as I have decent insurance. However some useful assistance through the process would be helpful. The other more disturbing point is , is this the future of Air Canada? Poor customer service in a service industry is not a good trait, and for that alone it will take me a few trips and some serious use of Skytrax before i use AC again, which is a shame as I do have a few points on my aeroplan account. Talking of which, they are yet to credit me any miles for the return trip. Another fail.
Next year, we were looking forward to a Canadian trip, and I have starting checking pricing on BA and American already.