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Thursday, January 12, 2017

CANCELLED: An Open Letter to Air Canada

Listen...I don't mean to poop all over the airlines during the holiday season, but between Iberia Airlines' $5 Nescafé and my latest escapade on Air Canada Rouge, I had to open up iPhone Notes and put my grievances to paper...

Just who conceived this ad anyway?
Dear Air Canada:

Okay, I get it. It's January and you're hell bent on showcasing how to screw up a great start to 2017.

Before I get the what's really bothering me, let me just say you need to get your freaking act together. I checked the flight board in my terminal and the majority of your flights seem to be either delayed or cancelled. That's no way to treat your customers.

So yeah yeah "bad weather*" delayed your flight out of Toronto (to the tune of three plus hours), which also means my flight that's supposed to be on the turnaround back to the Great White North is also delayed and my connection will be long gone. Translation? I'll be sleeping in a crappy transfer hotel that smells like mold and eating equally crappy hotel food with airline vouchers that never quite cover a full meal.

*sigh*

Seriously? $44.95 for the day pass?
After boarding your 767-300ER plane with overhead bins just big enough to accommodate a couple of duty free bags and a jacket (no I'm not kidding), I settled into my hardened seat with no less than four pieces of leftover trash in the seat pocket in front of me and noticed something alarming: there were NO entertainment options on this flight.

-No monitors mounted in every seat (as promised on your braggadocios website). Not a series of miniature displays ready to motor down after we take off.
-Not a screen mounted on the bulkhead wall. No magazines or newspapers.
-No Sharper Image Monopoly boards to engage my chatty seat mates.

Nope.

Nothing.

I mean I could have purchased an all day wifi pass if I had $44.95 CAD to blow, or if there was a USB port to plug into after my battery waned. Jeez, who would have guessed that a scheduled 9 hour, 10 minute flight would have bubkis?

Certainly not me.

Just then a curious pamphlet screamed to me like a beacon through the seat pocket litter. It read simply: "Player".

The pamphlet showed the standard smiling Caucasian blonde mother accompanied by her pre-requisite matching 9-year-old daughter in coveralls learning to maneuver on some kind of tablet. She was being helped by a well-appointed African-Canadian flight attendant who seemed eager to kneel down endlessly in the aisle to guide the entitled pre-teen.

(Seriously! Who casts these ads? This one screamed "clueless 1970s ad man" from the second I picked it up. White passengers. Black servers. C'mon already Air Canada! We don't do ads like this anymore.)

Yet, I digress...

Anyway, this pamphlet solved the mystery...read along with me now, "We hope you are enjoying Player. Air Canada Rouge's complimentary in-flight entertainment system. If you'd like the enjoy Hollywood new releases and popular games or if you left your device at home, ask your Rouge Crew about renting and Air Pad 2 for only $10."

It was written in English AND French so it had to be friendly and true, right?

Yeah, thanks Air Canada!
So this is where I get psyched. I have so many devices that could conceivably work. Between my MacBook Pro, mini iPad, and iPhone I must have this wired. One quick ring to the flight attendant** should get me rolling so I could watch Ghostbusters or The Magnificent Seven or even the Christmas classic Die Hard.

And then the bubble burst. My flight attendant let me know that the complimentary portion of their player system was an app that needed to be downloaded prior to takeoff. It was casually suggested that I could download the app and set it up if I purchased the 30-minute wifi pass for $8.95 CAD. Ugh.***

I wound up purchasing the iPad rental for $10; don't know why. A young Media Guy would have stood on principle and gone sans entertainment as a silent protest to the airline nickel and dime money grab. The older version just wanted to watch Bruce Willis save Christmas at Nokatomi Plaza.

Thanks Air Canada once again. Now I know why there over one thousand posts with the hashtag #AirCanadaSucks on Instagram.

And to top it all off? You lost my luggage even though I checked with your people three times in Toronto.

Get your act together.

With tough love and all due respect,
The Media Guy

P.S. Special shoutout to Mike Waring. He's the manager at the Toronto Airport Air Canada connection desk. Despite having ample time to put me on a half-full Air Canada flight that wouldn't take off for nearly an hour, he told me I was out of luck. He doubled down by letting me know there was nothing I could say to make him change his mind. Through a mock genuine smile, he reported that a lot of work was put into placing me on a flight tomorrow. In turn, I let him know that possessing a Napoleonic attitude was no way to run a transfer desk. I mean he didn't even leave me time to go to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Although my high-brow insult carried excellent comedic timing, I think he won this battle. Thanks Mike!

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*-I'm still trying to figure out the bad weather thing since there was no snow or rain or icy conditions in Toronto, nor in sunny Spain where my flight originated. Ah, the airline industry, where lying is just a way of life.

**-By the way, there were no Canadian-African flight attendants as suggested in the pamphlet. Sadly, there weren't any smiles either.

***-Air Canada, take a note: JetBlue is now giving all passengers free Wi-Fi.