As a one time Canadian Airline frequent flyer, I took only one Air Canada flight since the merger of the two airlines and swore I never would again. That flight was a nightmare. When I found myself forced to once again fly Air Canada, I was looking forward to experiencing another debacle that would add reams of ranting dialogue to my blog. In fact, I was counting on it to be the opening post of my year long, around the world trek.
Well, I was disappointed once again by Air Canada. Only this time I can not file a complaint. Other then a bump in price on the Cranbrook to Vancouver leg of a flight to Mexico City, everything was perfect. The attendant checking me in at the Air Canada desk in Cranbrook was the kind of employee every service industry dreams of hiring. She was beautiful, articulate, and nice… very, very nice. She sorted out my seating on both legs of the journey, making sure I got exactly what I wanted without a hint of any resistance. In fact, she was so wonderful I regretted I did not get her name. Ass I write this I realize I should also be emailing Air Canada customer relations to praise this employee for going above and beyond when it came to representing her company.
I hoped such stellar service was not the norm and that when I arrived in Vancouver I would find the Air Canada I once knew. My story concept depended on the airline I knew forcing me to deal with snarly ticketing attendants unwilling to even offer information unless it related to a ticket. I also expected a total absence of helpful, attentive staff at the boarding gate, and I was prepared for on-board service that would prove a joke. In other words, I assumed Air Canada, post merger, was the same old Air Canada that offered only over priced flights, upon which passengers treated like cargo. I’m used to flight delays and lost luggage, and when it is lost to getting little more than a shrug as I am being handed a lost luggage claim form.
I asked the flight attendant manning the gate to confirm my seat. He looked at the ticket and said all was in order. I pressed, asking that he check it in the system. Without a moment hesitation he did and confirmed that the information on the ticket was the same as in the system. I felt foiled at not being inconvenienced.
I had my headline, opening and general story line already thought out. All I needed was something to complain about.
Once aboard I found there were few passengers and I had the exit seat with ample leg room. In fact I could lay down. I was shown how to open the door in the event of an emergency. I though to myself, “That would be a story, at least”.
The flight departed on time. My meal arrived… and finally, someone messed up. I was asked if I wanted chicken or beef? Vegetarian was what I was supposed to get and it was confirmed online when I ordered the ticket. I had enough time to explain I had ordered vegetarian and the attendant had turned on his heals and fled. I was puzzled, but pleased in an evil sort of way until the attendant returned with a meal from either business or first class, apologizing profusely over the communication error.
Damn you Air Canada! Not only did my story not start with a rant about the evils of airline merges and their negative impact on travelers, but I had to praise the exemplary service of young staffers who were likely in diapers when the merger I detested took place. Worse, when I voiced my initial apprehension about flying Air Canada once again, the steward replied, “Thank you, and let me be the first to welcome you back as an Air Canada passenger.” I responded, “Yes, I suppose you can.”
Well at least the catchy title I came up with, “Damn You Air Canada,” was able to be used. Of course it is in a totally unexpected way. I suppose it should read, “Thank You Air Canada.”