If you’ve flown lately, you may have experienced it, too. In recent years, approximately 50% of my flights have departed late because of mechanical issues. Yet, somehow, I still trust the schedules the websites line up for me when I set up travel plans.
A quick getaway on an adventure in a warm part of PlanetWest had me taking five (Star Alliance) flight legs: two on the way down, and three on the way back. One of the five went without hitches. (It was not one of Air Canada’s three legs.)
The worst situation came Sunday, when I ended up in the Toronto Airport for 12 hours. My AC flight from Bogota had left an hour and twenty minutes late, meaning I’d have only an hour to transfer in Toronto. Given that I’d need to go through immigration in TO, and possibly even claim my luggage in between, I’d approached the AC desk there, to see if they could already reschedule my final leg to Vancouver.
“No,” they said, “One hour is enough, and my baggage was checked through to Vancouver.”
I was skeptical.
Arriving in Toronto, many of us with connections rushed through the process, followed the clear directions to “Connections” area, where staff awaited to inform us whether we were clear to go straight through to our connection or detour to the “Rescheduling” desk.
I was redirected (of course!)
At that desk, I was informed that: 1. I should have claimed my baggage and carried it with me through the Connections area, and 2. They could not rebook me because I had booked through Aeroplan; I would need to call them.
They took my carry-on (with all my valuables and electronics) and sent me bare-handed to a waiting area for an escort to take me back into the secure luggage carousels area to claim my checked bag. Several others, already waiting there, informed me the escort could only take 2 people at a time and each trip took very long.
An hour later, I had claimed my checked luggage from a carousel that was piled high with others in the same situation, gone through a second serious security check, and reconnected with my carry-on, now in a pile that contained possibly 15 carry-on bags from others sent back to claim their luggage.
How difficult, I wondered, would it have been to make an announcement prior to landing that those making connections needed to pick up their luggage?
That sorted out, I now call Aeroplan. As anticipated, I get on extended hold.
Forty-five minutes into the hold, I encounter a couple I’d met while awaiting the escort to reclaim checked luggage. Their flight to Winnipeg has been rescheduled for a 5 pm via Montreal. Lots of time to kill. While I maintain my queue on my phone, they find a more comfortable waiting area, help me get there, and begin searching Aeroplan’s website for alternatives to my long telephone hold. They find information that the Air Canada people should have done the rescheduling at the airport.
We find an AC representative who seems to be a problem solver, and she starts working on my behalf. Just then, my Aeroplan call-on-hold is answered—after an hour and forty-five minutes!
The pleasant Aeroplan rep first takes my number (in case we get cut off), assures me that the rescheduling should have been done at the airport by AC, but also assures me that she can solve the problem. Fifteen minutes later, she informs me that all flights to Vancouver for the day have been over-sold until 7pm tonight but, if I am willing to give up the preferred seating I’d spent extra Aeroplan points to get, I can get a middle seat on that plane.
“Just get me to Vancouver,” I say.
It’s now 11 am, four hours since I landed in Toronto, but I have a new flight! The one I should be on is, by now, somewhere over Manitoba or Saskatchewan. I have another eight hours to wait, just to depart.
Over the next few hours, the Winnipeg-bound couple and I play a lot of Rummy.
In between my flights to and from, though, the adventures and tours were spectacular, the customer service exceptional!
Unlike those providers, I guess the Airlines don’t need good Trip Advisor reviews!