Air Canada Problem

Air Canada’s sloppy service reputation goes on and on without any end in sight, it seems. In a 2000 CBC report, the airline company claimed to have fixed a bad customer service problem which occured after taking over Canadian Airlines and yet another customer complained in her blog about problems and inefficiencies encountered with Air Canada personnel in 2004.

Now, those were only two that came up as a result when I googled problems with Air Canada. I’m sure the more I dig deep on the internet, the more issues of inefficiency and bad customer service will come up.

I brought this up because we have been getting complaints from our customers (we have a Filipino market focused travel agency) for 5 straight days about Air Canada personnel at the Toronto International Airport telling them that they are either on waiting list or that no seats are available for them on their scheduled flight.

Of course, the first reaction of this people is to be pissed at us and call us up at 6 in the morning even on a Sunday! Those moronic Air Canada people are so damn irresponsible in the way they try to make an excuse for their own company’s business decision. They try to make it appear that the travel agent was the one responsible for the mistake when the truth is – Air Canada is the one which OVERBOOKED the flight.

Overbooking flights is a way for airline companies to maximize their capacity and other airlines do this too and is legal. But Air Canada instead of telling the passengers about the situation and offer them incentives to give up their seats voluntarily are passing the blame instead to the travel agents.

What a way to treat your partner in business, no?

See, if I were the airline passenger and they tell me that I’m waitlisted or have no seat, I know how to respond to their seemingly “bad news” because I work in a travel agency and I know how it works. I can check my file immediately by logging on our computer reservation system (CRS)* and see if there are any changes a day or even 5 hours before my scheduled flight.

But ordinary travelers like our customers do not have the same access to information as travel agents and so they will immediately believe what the airline personnel will tell them. Can anyone blame them if they get pissed when they hear an unpleasant message like that? Some of this people booked and have purchased their tickets MONTHS before.

For Filipino balikbayans, December is the month to be back to the homeland. It’s the most sought after vacation month of the year for Filipinos.

As partners in business, we travel agents expect the airlines to accept responsibilities in their decision to overbook. We don’t control their inventory, we don’t have access to their system unless they want us to. And that’s what regular travelers do not understand. Travel agents just book whatever seats are shown as available in every airlines inventory.

We don’t have those kind of complaints with Cathay Pacific and Korean Airlines. Why can’t Canada’s main carrier do the same?

I’m not saying that there aren’t unscrupulous travel agents but majority of us in this business are honest people working for a living. Most of us value our name and reputation more than money and sincerely wanted to stay long in this field. So why would a company you’re helping sell would try to discredit you?

That’s what sucks about monopoly.

Cathay flies daily out of Toronto but only thru Hong Kong. Korean only have a schedule of 3 flights every week. Japan airlines transits thru a U.S. gateway and most Filipino resident of Canada don’t want the hassle of going thru the United States. For busy months going to Asia, the only one that flies out of Eastern Canada everyday to different Asian gateways is Canada’s national carrier.

Lucky are those from Western Canada they have various choices of airlines directly flying out of Vancouver and if they choose to, also airlines servicing the United States thru Vancouver.

We hope Air Canada’s personnel will be professional enough to admit to customers that it is in line with airline policy to overbook flights and offer the customer an alternative if they want to avail of it, and not pass the blame to us travel agents because after all, we’re not their competition. Instead we’re business partners who sell their available seats to our customers all year round.

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*CRS – computer reservation system or sometimes called GDS or global distribution system.
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