Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Au Revoir Air Canada


OPEN LETTER to Michael Rousseau Air Canada CEO

Bonjour M. Rousseau,

I am a former commercial pilot, now turned travel writer, and also have been flying on hundreds of airliners for more than 50 years and I am now in my seventies. I can't imagine that you train your pursers to behave to your passengers this way, touching them inappropriately during a flight. At least I have never watched or experienced this by a female purser. 

Flight AC832 19:30 (YUL) to Brussels, arriving at 08:10 Tuesday 20 Jul 2021 - Seat 29D (28C on my boarding pass).

During this night flight, a male purser touched me inappropriately on my butt, in a humiliating, sexist, and chauvinistic way to tell me to buckle up. He could not know if or not I was buckled up as I had a blanket over me. I was sleeping after a very long day (about 19 hrs on my feet) and was glad to have a 3-seat row to stretch out. At around 11 pm (EST) I awoke when I felt hands on my body. 

Both his colleague and the customer service purser (head purser?) declined to tell me his name, but it was the older one of the two male pursers on this flight.


However, this was not the first incident of this kind, I experienced the same on an Air Canada flight (which was on October 13, 2020). So, to me, it seems like it is either the same person or this behavior is "company policy". 

If a male passenger would do this to an Air Canada female purser, he would be arrested and charged, or the flight would be diverted and the person kicked out of the plane.

Why does the inappropriate behavior of your pursers have not consequences?  Why do female passengers have to endure this...?  His male colleague whom I asked for the name found it quite ok... And why is it that you know the names of your passengers, but the passengers may not know the names of your employees?

Why I won't fly in the future with Air Canada anymore? 

This was not a single incident, last month I wrote already to you when one of your call center's employee screamed and yelled at me on the phone. You never bothered to answer... And this after I waited for two hours until "Amalia" or "Amelie" answered my call. She also made an error in my booking that caused a disruption/confusion on my flight on July 19th from Montreal to Brussels. Only because I had my laptop with me and could prove that I had a flight confirmation and even an email that same day to check-in online, plus my Visa card receipt, could I catch that flight at the last moment. Sure enough, your Air Canada ground staff blamed me for the error until she saw the proof! And then she didn't even apologize!

Another female purser humiliated me on a March 18th, 2020, flight home from Frankfurt to Montreal. I had booked this flight long before the Covid lockdown. By chance, it was the second-last flight before Canada closed air traffic due to Covid, and it was fully packed. I sat on an aisle seat and a mask-less passenger across me was coughing the whole time. I got up and asked a purser if they can't do anything, like handing a mask to her as at my age I do not want to be infected with Covid.  The purser looked at me in a derogatory and arrogant way and said: "That's your own risk, why do you fly at all?" It sounded to me  "Why do you fly at all with Air Canada?"  Shortly after that, the passenger had suddenly a mask over her face. It was given to her by the same crew...  So, I am wondering why do you not train your staff how to behave towards customers. 

Instead of slighting me, the purser could have said: "I understand your concern, let's see if we have a spare mask for this passenger" or something like that. Why are Air Canada employees so mean, impolite, and vulgar toward  their passengers???

Money and Time Lost

Due to untrained/less knowledgeable Air Canada employees, I lost a lot of money and time. For example:  Last September a flight from Halifax, NS, to Frankfurt, Germany (with a stop in Montreal) in the evening was canceled and bounced to an early morning flight, taking off at 6 am in Halifax. At that time I was living 200 km from Halifax (in Antigonish) and no bus or train, or even a friend/relative would have been able to drive me at 2 am to Halifax to check in at 4 am. 

I called as I had booked for an evening flight and Air Canada had canceled it (NOT me!) - to offer to board in Montreal as I was there two days earlier. This way, Air Canada could have sold the morning flight to someone else and I could have boarded in Montreal. I talked with three different agents, and they all declined and said that I need to get a new ticket for a flight Montreal-Frankfurt and charged me an additional $160. Only later in Frankfurt, I learned at a German Air Canada service counter that it was not true and the evening flight cancelation was done by Air Canada and I should be reimbursed. 

On another transatlantic flight, arriving late morning in Montreal in March 2020, I was booked on a connecting flight to Halifax at 5 pm! I hang around at the airport and found out that there was a flight three hours earlier to Halifax, which was not even half booked. But it was too late! When I boarded and placed my small handbag into the overhead bin of this Montreal-Halifax flight, my fingers almost stuck: The handle was so filthy, it felt like it had not been cleaned for months. And this in times of Covid! It was just disgusting...

I Have Had Enough!

These are only a few examples of how I have been treated as a customer by Air Canada. My decision to avoid your airline in the future might not come as a surprise...  During the last two years, I had only one single positive experience when I met a very nice person from your company on the phone. The rest was only frustration, anger, and lost time/money. 

Please retire this chauvinistic purser from flight AC832 and spend some (or better a lot of ) money on customer service and training - instead of fat bonuses to CEOs.  After all, we are the customers who pay for this all - and want to be treated with respect and politeness.  I will warn everyone and tell my experiences with your companies' employees.  Word of mouth - or word of the mouse - is often mightier! 


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