Air Canada — denied boarding and poor concierge service
Re: Aeroplan [protected]
To Whom It May Concern:
I have been flying Air Canada as an Aeroplan member since 1988, and have been either Super Elite or Elite 75k for much of the past decade. I am also a million mile member. As a cardiologist and McMaster University professor, I have volunteered medical assistance for countless Air Canada passengers over the years, including just last week on September 24 on AC 171 from Toronto to Edmonton. I now write to you to express my dissatisfaction with a recent Air Canada experience.
I took AC 667 on October 1, 2019 from St. John's to Toronto. The flight was delayed by more than one hour due to a mechanical issue. On arrival in Toronto, due to weather issues, we sat on the tarmac for more than another hour waiting for an open gate. I had a separately ticketed flight (business class) that same day from Toronto to Madrid, Spain (AC 836), which was due to depart at 610 pm. I made it to the gate at 604 pm and was denied boarding as the plane doors had closed. The gate agent was rude and condescending, and refused to identify herself to me. I asked to speak with a premium concierge. She spoke directly with a concierge and told me I would have to wait 40 minutes to meet with the concierge. During this time, the plane was still at the gate. I had no checked luggage, and was still denied boarding.
I then went to the Signature Lounge, where I was told a premium concierge would meet me in 30 minutes to rebook me on a later flight to Madrid. I was unable to get through to anyone on the Elite 75K phone line. I waited in the lounge for 75 minutes before the concierge showed up. He told me that he could not rebook me, but would accompany me to stand in line at customer service. As you can imagine, there was a long line at customer service, which he was not able to bypass. Had I known the concierge would be effectively useless, I would have gone to customer service 75 minutes earlier. As a result, by the time I was able to speak with customer service, there was no flight option for me until the following day. I was due to give a lecture at a conference in Madrid on October 2nd, which I obviously missed.
Having status over 30 years at Air Canada must come with some level of respect in how customers are treated. A million mile member, Elite 75K, seated in business class, should not be denied boarding simply because the ‘flight had closed'. Further, the concierge should have been much more effective.
I have volunteered medical services many, many times on Air Canada flights (check your records). The small price discounts offered on subsequent tickets in no way compensates me for my time, disruption to my travel companions, or risk. Yet I do this partly out of loyalty to Air Canada.
I have had many negative experiences over the years with your airline, but have not complained. With the impending launch of a new loyalty program, the details of which are unclear, and the utter lack of respect and loyalty shown by Air Canada towards me, it seems to be the right time to change loyalties. Hopefully Westjet will soon become a full Delta partner, affording me expanded flight routes and a much superior loyalty program.
Milan Gupta, MD, FRCPC, FCCS
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