Jim Letourneau's Blog

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Jeffrey Simpson is Right

I’m not travelling the globe on a regular basis but having been on 6 Air Canada flights in the last 10 days I’m going to have to agree with Jeffrey Simpson’s controversial comments about perhaps the most hated corporation in Canada. As with most impressions it is often the little things that make the difference:

  • 3 out of the 6 Air Canada flights were behind schedule.

  • One ticket agent implied that I had left the boarding pass for a connecting flight at the ticket dispenser. I have children, I don’t need additional attitude in my life. There was no second pass.

  • The food you buy for $5 looks nothing like what they show in the menu that is buried on the back pages of their in flight magazine (the pictures suggest hot and crispy while the real item is soft and doughy).

  • One delayed flight required an overnight stay at a Japanese airport hotel . Everyone was given a free phone call. Presumably most people were using this call to inform friends and relatives to not meet them at the airport until the next day. The next morning’s flight left over 2 hours later than what everyone was told the previous day.

  • When a throng of angry passengers descended upon the Air Canada ticket counter for transfers it reminded me of what it would must have been like trying to get on a Titanic lifeboat. The gruff line up assistant snapped “One at a time, you’re all in the same boat!” (which was code for your travel plans are screwed). Meanwhile an upstairs ticket counter remained a tranquil oasis of inactivity.

It may seem like I am being petty but the shortfalls had a cumulative effect on my travelling experience. While I am grateful to have gotten to my destinations safely, I am not going to say that getting to them was half the fun.

Air Canada appears to have a disproportionate number of tenured employees who have little interest in customer service. The company’s corporate culture of entitlement and wounds from past union vs.management battles have left Air Canada with a tired and jaded work force. It only takes a few of these bitter old timers to suck the life out of Air Canada’s more recent hires. Forced and weary smiles send a mixed message to the fare paying passengers.

Changes in corporate culture must start at the top. Air Canada’s management is not getting the job done. Air Canada is hated for a reason and top management is doing a great injustice to its employees by maintaining the status quo. I was lucky, my hours with Air Canada were approximately that of a regular 40 hour work week. I can’t imagine working there on a full time basis.