We’ve all had issues with air travel, from delayed flights to annoying passengers to technical problems with the planes themselves. As a world traveller (my parents take me on their business trips around the globe), I’ve experienced all of these problems and it really irks me when my flight is cancelled, my luggage gets lost, or it takes longer to get through security because I was chosen for a random security check. Luckily, I’ve been able to avoid these problems by flying locally with Porter Airlines – they’re reliable, the (free) food is delicious, and the flight attendants are both kind and accommodating. However, this week is reading week (Spring break) for universities and, due to the large volume of students going home for the break, there were hardly any Porter flights available from Halifax to Toronto for less than $800. My other option was to go with Air Canada as there was a 6:30AM flight via Montreal for only $400 (early flights aren’t a problem for me; I just prefer to stay awake the night before because I’ll be way too tired the next day if I have to get up at 4AM). So I booked the flight, ordered a cab for 5AM on Sunday, and chugged a couple of energy drinks on Saturday night. By the time the taxi showed up, I was wide awake and excited to come home to my family…but little did I know that I was about to have a nightmare of a trip.
I’ve flown with Air Canada many a time and it’s always the same: rude flight attendants, incompetent check-in agents, and flight delays. As you know, the only thing you can do when these problems occur is to stay calm and try to make the most of the situation. But imagine getting to the airport at 5:30AM, going up to the Air Canada check-in agent with a huge smile on your face because you’ll be home in a few hours, and being told that your flight was cancelled and that you would be arriving home five hours later than expected. You’d be annoyed, right? I was livid, and the less-than-polite check-in agent didn’t help matters much; she refused to help me re-book my flight and instead shoved a pamphlet in my face as it contained Air Canada’s phone number for flight information. I asked for help from two other Air Canada agents who were standing around doing nothing, but both told me that it wasn’t their job to help me find out if I had been re-booked (to be honest, all of the Air Canada staff at Halifax Airport that I talked to were discourteous and none of them bothered saying anything to a woman who was crying her eyes out because she was afraid our flight cancellation would cause her to miss her friend’s wedding). So I sat on the floor with people from my flight and called the flight information number. After being put on hold for one hour and fifteen minutes, the woman on the phone explained that they had put me on a direct flight to Toronto, which was scheduled to leave at 8AM. This was better news than I had expected, although at the baggage check-in they told me that my flight was now delayed by a half hour, meaning we would get home at 10 as opposed to our original ETA, which had been 9.
The only good thing about the whole ordeal was that Air Canada allows passengers to watch movies for free. This is surprising given that smaller airlines like WestJet require us to fork out several dollars to watch a movie. Still, even a free viewing of Morning Glory couldn’t make up for everything they had put us through. My main concern is with the Air Canada flight attendants…didn’t they become flight attendants so that they could be with people all the time? Or, at the very least, they knew that their job would require them to treat their customers courteously. Either way, I doubt it would put them out to show some respect. I’m not asking for them to hug and kiss us when we enter the plane, but a smile and a positive attitude could take Air Canada a long way (you might want to take note of this if you’re thinking of becoming a flight attendant!). It’s a pity because I really used to love flying with Air Canada, but now that their service has gotten worse I only fly with them out of necessity.