B.C. travel chaos sparks Air Canada complaints
Published Saturday, January 3, 2009 1:06PM PST
The Vancouver International Airport is slowly getting back to normal after last week's travel chaos.
But the Consumers' Association of Canada is still getting angry calls from passengers.
The association says there should be an inquiry into what happened at Vancouver International Airport.
Annette Jordan should have been in Smithers, B.C., Thursday, spending time with her family.
But on Boxing Day, soon after she got to her gate at the airport, her flight was cancelled.
The whole next day, I was on and off hold with Air Canada, it kind of ruined my day, because I couldn't do much else,'' Jordan said. "The longest I was on hold was for an hour and a half with nothing but hold music,'' she said.
There was another flight to Smithers on the December 28th, but Jordan couldn't get through to Air Canada to book it.
Rather than lose more vacation days, she reluctantly headed back to work.
It wasn't until this week she finally reached the airline and got a refund.
"I cancelled my vacation because I couldn't get through to Air Canada. Had I been able to get through, I would have still gone,'' Jordan said.
During 40 years working as a consumer representative, Bruce Cran of the Consumers' Association of Canada said he has never seen anything like it.
In the last two weeks, Cran has received hundreds of customer complaints about Air Canada.
The callers phoned to complain about everything from passengers held on the tarmac to the lack of snow tires on the big tugs that tow planes out.
"I think we need an inquiry into what happened at Vancouver Airport,'' Cran said.
"We've got to get this resolved before the Olympic Games. We've got 14 months to go and our national carrier can't handle it?" he said.
The Consumer's Association will express its concern to Federal Transport Minister Laurence Cannon, in the New Year, and demand better protection for airline passengers.
For some passengers, it couldn't come soon enough.
"If I ran my business the way they ran theirs, I wouldn't have one. I'm never flying Air Canada again,'' said Tony Di Mambro, a frustrated passenger.
Bruce Fougner of Lloyds Travel and Cruises has heard a lot of people make a similar vow. As for Air Canada's explanation, there isn't one. Calls and emails to the company have not been returned.
When it comes to public relations, this travel agent says Air Canada has lost the battle.
"I hope Air Canada has learned they really got beaten to the customer service punch by WestJet,'' said Fougner. "How they responded with air credits. You can't buy that type of advertising,'' he said.
With a report by CTV British Columbia's Leah Hendry.