Friday, July 15, 2016

I've Moved On: More On My Canadian Airport Problems

A quick update on my last blog post: Canada still owes me a donut. But it's fine. I've moved on.

Though I am incredulous that the airline ran out of donuts -- donuts it ordered specifically to feed its passengers for a flight that had been delayed for several hours. This is an airline that can calculate the altitude of a flight, the number of miles remaining until the flight reaches its destination, and the arrival time down to the exact minute -- and display all of this information on a tiny screen on the back of a chair on a plane. And yet, somehow, it is unable to calculate the number of crullers it needs to keep a pack of hungry travelers happy.

But as I said, I've moved on.

I do have two more airport stories from that weekend that I'd like to share with you -- two more cases of customer service that I found to be curious:

* What you read in my last blog post was actually my second attempt to leave Canada. I missed the flight I'd originally booked. The airline refused to print my ticket because I arrived at the airport one hour before departure time -- two hours later than it recommends for an international flight.

I was aware of and understood the airline's policy, but allow me to make a few points in my favor: I'd checked in online the day before; I was carrying only a backpack; and I was pretty confident in my ability to quickly pass through security and reach the gate in time. I'm the Usain Bolt of running to an airport gate when a flight is about to take off. And Usain usually isn't carrying his sneakers and belt in his hand when he's racing.

I'm not saying I would have definitely made my flight. All I'm saying is that I would've liked to have had the opportunity.

The airline wouldn't budge, though. So I asked it what my options were. There's a seat available for a flight this Friday, I was told. Now, let me explain that this conversation was taking place on a Sunday. Rather than print my ticket for a flight that I'd paid $122 for, and see if maybe I could get on its plane, the airline had a better suggestion: Why not stick around for five more days? Why end your vacation when you can take another vacation? Eat Canadian bacon, drink maple syrup, watch episodes of Degrassi, and come back at the end of the week.

Obviously, I passed and sought out other options with other carriers. Later, I filed a complaint online, but the airline stood by its decision to not print the ticket. It then sent me a customer satisfaction survey -- in a foreign language. I was not satisfied.

* After turning down the Friday flight, I scrambled from one airline counter to the next with much anxiety, hoping I could buy a new ticket to New York -- one that could be printed.

I approached a Canadian carrier that had a couple of scheduled flights to New York for later that evening. I saw only one line, for baggage drop-off. I didn't see a line for purchasing tickets. "Where can I buy tickets?" I asked.

"We don't sell tickets here," was the response. "You have to call our customer support line to make a reservation."

I was concerned. I couldn't call the airline because I was in a foreign country and had my iPhone in airplane mode. Plus, I was pressed for time, and I was already at the airport, and I was standing right in front of the airline. Why couldn't I receive support in person?

I can't figure the logic behind an airline choosing not to sell tickets at its own counter at an airport. I wanted a ticket. I wanted to give it business. I didn't stop by the counter to loiter while using the free WiFi. This wasn't Best Buy.

Eventually, I booked a flight with another airline, using the free WiFi, and the events of the last blog post followed.

And since then, I've moved on.