How Air Canada handled a flight delay

Mar 2nd, 2009, 11:05 AM
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How Air Canada handled a flight delay

Thought I'd document my experience for the Fodorites. Yesterday, my daughter was scheduled to leave LGA for YUL on the Air Canada 5:30 PM flight. Snow was due to begin in NY later that evening. She had signed up for flight notification info by both email and cell phone. I was tracking the flights online because of the incoming weather, and found that her flight was delayed 4 1/2 hours, until 10 PM. She received NO notification from the airline. There was a 7:55 flight with seats available, due to depart on time, so I called the airline. Their rep told me that the delay was due to weather conditions at LGA - obviously a lie, since there was minimal wind, 8 miles visibility, and 'low' delay status being reported for the airport at that time, but that is the info the airline was providing to its own people (who are in Tampa). The same rep also told me that the 7:55 flight would not leave before the earlier scheduled flight, so there was no need to change her reservation. Also incorrect information, but I didn't realize it at the time. When I finally realized what was up, I called again, and of course by then there were no seats left on that 7:55 flight since all the people who had shown up at the airport not knowing about the delay were put on it. And I finally got a rep who was willing to research the situation a little more, and confirmed my suspicion that Air Canada had equipment problems and did not have an aircraft available for that 5:30 flight. What they did was cancel the next day's early morning flight due to return to Montreal (which would have been canceled by the weather anyway), and use that plane (which was used for the last flight out of Montreal to LGA) for the supposed 5:30. It was nearly empty. Unfortunately, by then it had started snowing, the plane needed to be de-iced, and it did not depart until 10:40. My already nervous flier of a daughter was a wreck - add in the turbulence on the flight, and I don't see her alone on a plane in the near future. I don't know what the lesson of this tale is, except maybe to realize that the airlines do not provide correct information to their reps, their flight notification systems are not put into action, and the reps are misinformed about their policy regarding order of departing flights. And - trust your instincts - I knew their info sounded 'off', but I didn't follow through. Oh - and on one of my phone calls, when I said I didn't believe the 'weather' excuse for the delay and asked for a supervisor, they immediately hung up on me. Just thought I'd share.
butnotrmpt is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 03:24 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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Well that's Air Canada for you - no surprise here. They have a complete lack of what "customer service" means.
Cruiseryyc is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2009, 06:18 AM
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What was your daughter doing during all this? What was the airline telling her at the airport?
MikeT is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2009, 06:55 AM
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MikeT - She was at home, not at the airport. That was a blessing I guess. Although if I had not been tracking the flights, or if the first rep had given me correct info, she would have been on that 7:55 flight. When we did get to the airport, the rep there told us that the phone reps were still telling some of the customers that the 5:30 flight was leaving on time. And she said that no one received the flight notifications they had signed up for.
butnotrmpt is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2009, 04:39 PM
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Maybe your daughter would be better off taking the train or bus between New York and Montreal - longer trip, but cheaper and less stressful for a nervous flyer. My mother in law has taken the bus between Toronto and NYC on her last couple of visits and she prefers the experience - easier, less stressful and signifiantly less expensive.
frogoutofwater is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2009, 07:08 PM
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She has traveled to and from Montreal by bus and by train, especially during a period where she had a hard time getting on a plane. But she really dislikes them, and that is why she has resumed flying. Amtrak takes 11 hours if it's on time. And since it doesn't own the track it travels on, it frequently is late as the train waits for freight trains to go by. As for the bus - I don't think she has been on one bus trip across the border that was on time. When I have been with her at Port Authority, the bus never pulls into the slot until after the time it is scheduled to leave. But you are right - the train and bus are definitely cheaper and less stressful.
butnotrmpt is offline  
Mar 4th, 2009, 04:11 AM
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Dear Mom.

No offense, but maybe it is time for your daughter to make and manage her own travel arrangements. It is easy to do her a favor by monitoring what is going on, but if the information is wrong -- and it often is -- you really aren't doing her a favor by keeping her at home based on it.

If she had gone to the airport, it sounds as if she would have gotten on the earlier flight, though I doubt that it would have been any less turbulent.

I am assuming she is a student. Sadly, there really aren't any good ways for a student to get back and forth to Montreal unless they fly. Even if you gave her a car for the trip, a student traveling alone has a high chance of getting held up at the border, speaking from family experience.
Ackislander is offline  
Mar 4th, 2009, 09:06 AM
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Ackislander - Yes she is a student, and yes I am too often heavily involved in making and tracking her travel arrangements. But, in this case, if Air Canada's flight notification system had operated as claimed, she would have received notification of the 4 1/2 hour flight delay, and she would have been at home waiting, rather than at the airport. And it makes sense to me that we should have been monitoring the flights given the incoming weather. I would never recommend that anyone just go to the airport without first making sure that their flight is going to get into the air. A point that is oft remembered in this house. 4 years ago, she was in Montreal with her dad for her audition, and they did not check their flight status before they left for the airport. The flight had been canceled, and instead of spending an extra night at their hotel in a very active downtown, surrounded by restaurants, shopping, students, etc., they ended up very bored in an airport hotel.
butnotrmpt is offline  

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