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Saturday, September 21, 2013

An Open Letter To Air Canada

Dear Air Canada,

Hi!  How are you?  I hope all is well.  It’s me, Mike.  I know, we saw each other last week!

I’m writing to tell you that, even though for me it was love at first sight…well…I’m breaking up with you.  I know, I know, the proper thing to do would have been to call and tell you, but you’re so hard to get ahold of.  I mean, every time I try and call you, I get told that, because of high caller volume, I will have a 40-minute wait.  No matter what time I call!  So, I thought a letter would be best.

Why am I breaking up with you?  Yes, you do have some annoying traits, but don’t we all?  I snore sometimes!

I want you to know that I would never break up with you because of annoying traits.  Like the time you changed equipment, and even though I booked the flights for my wife and me eleven months in advance, you took away my priority boarding.  Yes, you did give me a refund, and I thank you for that.  But, you never told me what it was for, and when you changed the time of the flights, you didn’t say I lost that priority seating.  Wouldn’t it make sense for you to call me, or at least send me a note that said, “Hi, Mike?  Wanted to tell you that you may have lost your priority seating, call us if you want to rebook that!”  But that’s not why I’m breaking up with you.

And no, it’s not because, when you made the announcement on the plane that everyone should turn off their electronic equipment, the guy in first class with an iPad and one of those old school Kindles – the 8 ½ by 11 kind – didn’t turn off his…even though there was a flight attendant standing right next to him who didn’t say a word.  I don’t mean standing near him.  I mean, standing right next to him…all of six inches away.  See, here’s the thing:  I know someone in some row behind us was hiding his or her iPod from the flight attendants…it happens all the time!  But to have his electronics on and practically flaunting it in front of a flight attendant, and the attendant does nothing?  To be perfectly honest, I don’t understand why we have to turn off our electronics, but I assume it is for safety reasons.  I don’t particularly like it when some person who thinks they don’t have to follow the rules puts my life in their hands.  The flight attendants should have made this person turn off their Kindle and iPad.  And while I am angry about that, knowing that someone behind me was hiding his or her iPod, well…it’s something that I guess I have to deal with.

But that’s not why I’m breaking up with you either.  And it’s not because you forgot to give me my immigration form, so I had to fill it out on a garbage can in the airport.

It’s because, if there is one thing I can’t accept, it’s being treated rudely.  You may not remember what you did, so let me explain.

Remember when you changed the equipment on me?  Well, as much as I loved you, I love my wife more.  And on the Toronto to Boston leg, you put Cathy in row 12 and me in row 24.  This may seem odd to you, but I like sitting with my wife.

So, I asked someone at the Vancouver Airport, which is where we started our journey home, where the Air Canada customer service desk was.  He said it was down the hall, and that, if there was no one there, I should knock on the door.  I thought that was kind of a strange comment, I mean, why wouldn’t a customer service desk have customer service people at it?  Silly, right??  I fly a lot, and I always see the United Airlines customer service desk with someone behind it.  And the same with American Airlines, JetBlue, Delta…Sorry, I don’t mean to go on and on.  I guess that’s another annoying trait of mine!

When I got to the customer service desk…surprise!  There was no one there!  So, I walked down the hall a little bit and there was an office with the door open.  Not wanting to barge in, I stood by the door and said, “Hello?”  No response.

So I walked to the door and saw that there was an Air Canada employee standing over a printer.  I said, “Excuse me, ma’am?”  No response.

So I said it a little louder.  “Excuse me, ma’am?”  This time she turned around.  I said, “There’s no one at the customer service desk?”  Let me ask you…what do you think the appropriate response should have been?  Let me give you a few:  She could have said, “Give me two minutes, and I’ll help you.”  Or, “They went on a bathroom break, they’ll be back in five minutes.”  Or, “I’m sorry, I have no idea where they went, I apologize.”

Would you like to know what her actual response to me was?  It was this:

“Well, they have to leave the desk SOMETIME!”

To which I responded, “Well, that doesn’t help me now, does it?”  And she shrugged her shoulders at me.

Y’know Air Canada, my parents taught me when I was a little boy, that the words, “Please,” and “Thank you,” and “Excuse me,” and “I’m sorry” go a long way.  Apparently, those lessons weren’t taught to you.  And I’m sorry, I just can’t spend my hard earned money on you if that’s the way you are going to treat me.

I’m not writing this expecting you to give me a free flight, or some sort of voucher or anything like that.  To be honest, unless it is for business purposes, I have no intention of flying you again.  The next time I go to Vancouver, I would fly JetBlue to Seattle and then take a train.  Sure it’ll take me longer, but at least JetBlue treats me nicely.

But I am hoping that maybe this letter will end up in the right hands, and someone does something about your customer service, which is the worst ever, and does something to improve it, so the next person that falls in love with you doesn’t have to be treated so poorly.

So that’s why our love affair is over.  I know the right thing for me to say would be, “It’s not you, it’s me.”  But I can’t…because it really is you.




  1. Love this Mike. You are a great writer.

  2. And here's me thinking that Canadians had politeness fused into their DNA... You really should send this letter to the head of AirCanada. He needs to know what his staff are doing (or not doing).