Air Canada – People Ask… how was our trip to New York? Do You Care?
To: Air Canada Customer Care
submitted by email online
subject: flight cancellation,rebooking ignored,rebooking to next day,security check
My husband and I were scheduled to return from NY to Montreal on AC7743. Checked the status in AM and it was fine. Checked again around 1:30 PM and flight was cancelled and we were booked for an early flight next morning. This was unacceptable and so we were booked on AC771 to Toronto at 7:30 PM same day and AC430 to Montreal dep Toronto at 10:30. We were assured we could use our same booking reference NJM36R to get our boarding passes. We had to change our reservations for pickup (to the airport)at the last minute, and were able to get a later pickup. We arrived at the airport at 4:30-4:45 and were told we were not booked on those flights and nothing was available until the next day. After vigorous protests we were booked on a direct flight to Montreal at 9 AM the next day, AC7739.
We checked in the next day and when we entered the security area, the first person we handed our boarding passes to said, “Your airline has selected you for a special inspection” and joking, we presumed, indicated it would be a hands on inspection and said it would be “followed by a nice massage.” In fact, it was no joke. We would like to know why our airline selected us for this kind of inspection. My husband and I are both 79 years old, we have never been arrested for any reason, we are dual citizens of both Canada and the United States traveling on Canadian passports. When we asked an Air Canada employee at Gate 11 why we had been selected, her face froze and she said, “We cannot tell you that.” Passengers are warned that security is no joke. Why was our inspection referred to as a joke? And why were we “selected” for this humiliating, invasive experience? And why were we told we had a reservation at 7:30 PM the same day and then it was totally denied? Why we were also advised that if we went to a motel it would be at our own expense when it was not even necessary for us to go to the airport if we could not get on the flight promised to us and could not leave until the following day?
logged in as: Elaine and George Zimbel
Your email has been submitted. The reference number for your question is ’090403-000196′
Response (Anke du Preez) 04/07/2009 04:12 PM
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Zimbel,
Thank you for your email. We appreciate the time you have taken to write to us and are pleased to address your concerns. On behalf of Air Canada, I offer my sincere apologies for the inconvenience that you experienced.
Air Canada takes pride in ensuring the safety and comfort of our passengers and crew. Despite our best intentions and preparations to maintain our scheduled service, delays and cancellations sometimes occur. While weather related situations are beyond our control, we acknowledge the inconvenience and disruption they cause. In these cases, we expect our employees to do everything possible to take care of our customers’ various needs.
Our records indicate that your ticket was exchange and you were rebooked through Toronto on the 30th.
AC 8631 30MAR09 Newark Toronto 0625
AC 406 30MAR09 Toronto Montreal 1000
This ticket was then again exchanged for:
QK7739 30MAR09 Newark Montreal 0900 1027
We do not have a record of the change to AC771 and AC430. Our records indicate that an email was sent to you with the new itinerary. Should you have a copy of the email with the flights rebooked for the 29th, please could you fax it to our office at 1-866-584-0380.
Although we are sympathetic to the situation you describe, we are unable to offer any form of compensation. Inclement weather is a natural risk that both passengers and airlines must face and safety precautions simply do not allow air carriers to operate when weather conditions are below limits. At the same time please be assured your feedback is very important to us and the details of your comments have been documented for the appropriate departments.
The selection of passengers who are screened at security, is not something the airlines are in control of and we are unable to select passengers to be screened. This process is computerized, done randomly and does not fall within the jurisdiction of the airlines. However, we do apologize for the jovial manner in which it was conducted. Please be assured that your file has been forwarded to the Customer Service Manager at La Guardia to be taken up internally with the security company.
Mr. and Mrs. Zimbel, thank you for choosing Air Canada. We value your support and look forward to welcoming you on board in the near future.
Anke du Preez (Mrs.)
Customer (Elaine Zimbel) 04/07/2009 06:52 PM
Thank you for your prompt reply which is unsatisfactory in several respects. First, we do not have a fax so we cannot fax you anything. Second, our eventual departure was from Newark airport, not La Guardia, in reference to the security fiasco we experienced. Please be advised, I am a writer, a journalist, and a psychotherapist, and I quoted what the man said to me almost verbatim. The same is true of the Air Canada employee at Gate 11 who answered my question as to why we had been “selected” exactly as I stated above – her face froze and she said, “I cannot tell you that.” If she had said it was a random selection, we would have been somewhat mollified, not withstanding it was a truly horrible experience.
And finally, yes we do have the email Air Canada sent to us with the 9 a.m. March 30 itinerary; however it was sent at 5:23 pm on the 29th at which time we had already made the booking in person at Newark airport after learning that the booking we had made by phone in NEW YORK CITY from telephone number 212-675-4128, the home of friends, between 1:30 and 2:00pm for the same da departure, as described above, did not exist.
As I told you above, we had reserved a van to pick us up for the originally scheduled flight at 2:30 (Super Shuttle confirmation #7021157). In fact the driver arrived early as I was speaking to Air Canada and my husband went downstairs to tell him our flight had been cancelled. We were able to rebook for a 3:45 pick up (Van 698) without being penalized. We have only our telephone conversation with Air Canada at 1-888-247-2262 to assure you that we had a reason to go out to the airport the same day, plus the piece of paper on which I wrote the details which I would happily mail to you if you wish to see it.
Finally, in my earlier letter I neglected to mention that when we arrived at YUL, the detachable carrier onto which my small bag is attached and which was in the under part of the plane was broken. I did take the time to go to baggage claim. Now I have to go to some place I have never been to have it repaired or replaced. I did not mention it before because it is a minor inconvenience compared with what we had already endured.
Posted in Letters to the corporation