Air Canada and Great Customer Service

Air Canada and great customer service together in one sentence? Is it possible? Did it actually happen?

I am here, sure as flies to…..well, you know what I mean; I am telling you I recently experienced some of THE best customer service from Air Canada; and it was during the Christmas holidays.

Have they finally got it together? Has Mr. Rovinescu, President and CEO of AC, brought forth an era of genuinely caring, compassionate, and joyful employees? Sure as flies to…well, you know what I mean; it definitely seems AC is flying in the right direction.

My family and I flew on AC, albeit Jazz, from Edmonton, Alberta to Houston, Texas during the Christmas holidays. From the check-in and gate agents at Edmonton International Airport, to the smiling faces of the flight attendants, our flight could not have gone any smoother.

The return trip was where AC really shone through. Upon check-in at Houston, we were informed our AC flight was delayed by a couple of hours. Our flight was to take us from Houston to Calgary and then on to Edmonton. Being the savvy traveller I am (savvy = ex-Air Canada employee) I realized that our connection in Calgary was going to be missed. I quickly telephoned AC reservations to re-book us on a later flight. I was informed that the two remaining flights from Calgary to Edmonton that evening where full, but, they would re-book us for the next morning flight. Now here’s where things can get complicated – with who is paying for an overnight hotel stay due to a misconnect. But first, let me continue…..

The aircraft arrived into Houston two hours delayed from scheduled departure. During our wait the gate agent was informative and helpful with any questions passengers asked. When the boarding began the gate agent sincerely expressed her apologizes on behalf of AC for the delay of the aircraft. Once onboard the aircraft the flight attendant expressed her apologizes for the delayed flight, and once we were level at 35,000 feet the captain came over the intercom with his apologizes and explanation of the delayed aircraft (sick first officer – hard to find replacement during the holidays – ah-ha not weather related so AC pays for overnight hotel). Here’s where it really gets exciting…complimentary drinks on the flight back to Canada!

Upon landing in Calgary, armed with some liquid courage, my family and I are ready to slay the first dragon that denies us a paid hotel night stay. But alas, no need for drawn swords as AC is ready and waiting (with smiles) for the inconvenienced passengers from Houston. Hotel reservations have been arranged, shuttle is outside waiting, and meal vouchers for supper and breakfast are handed out (with smiles).

The hotel was clean and comfortable, the food tasty, and we had a good night’s rest. In the morning we were presented with the next challenge, we were informed the shuttle from the hotel to the airport was fully booked. The hotel desk agent informed us that a taxi had been ordered for us and that AC will refund us the taxi charge. REALLY? AC will refund the taxi charge because the shuttle’s full? We’ll see…

Once the taxi deposited us at the airport, taxi receipt in hand, my determined partner walks over to the AC ticketing counter, explains our situation and presents the taxi receipt. The iTune playing in my head as I watch: “sorry we cannot give you a refund for the taxi, but here is the address in Montreal to write a letter and ask for a refund.” However, to my surprise and shock, my partner meets us at the check-in line up with a credit voucher explaining that the ticket agent did not have cash to give for the refund but when we arrive in Edmonton to take the voucher to a ticket agent and they will refund us our fare. We arrive Edmonton, I go to the ticket agent and sure as flies to…well, you know what I mean; money refunded.

Being an ex-Canadian Airlines/Air Canada employee caught in the merger, I saw both the inside and outside of an unhappy workforce, passengers and dim lit future. Now, seven years after leaving Air Canada, I have a different 30,000 foot view of the airline.

Reading Air Canada’s customer relations website, it says “we want to maintain a relationship with our customer’s…” After this smooth ride with Air Canada, I am slowly but surely, as flies to…well, you know what I mean; changing my opinion.