O Air Canada! What’s Your Problem, Eh? [travel]

air canada line to check baggage
Written by Terry Gardner

Air Canada nickel and dimed travel editor Terry Gardner’s recent flight. Here’s her tale of woe.

aNewDomainterry-gardner-anewdomain-geniuspack-backpack-review-geniuspack-intelligent-backpack — I was looking forward to flying Air Canada home yesterday. But when the airline started screwing with my baggage, all bets were off.

My carry-on that had not at all magically changed in dimension was a perfect fit in the overhead bin on the Air Canada flight I took from Los Angeles to Montreal. That plane was a 737. But before I took the same size plane back, strange Air Canada agents/heavies forced me to place my bag in the carry-on sizer. That’s where my Canadian tale of woe begins. Here’s my photo essay — aka My Photographic Exploration of True Air Canada Misery.

First bad travel sign: Yes, you are flying Air Canada.

air canada

But here is another bad sign. It’s the sign of surrender. It’s the one you’ll see after the Air Canada sizing thugs send you back with your carry-on to check it.

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And look at the prices below. Those aren’t typos.

The fee isn’t $25 Canadian. Oh, no. You’re actually being dinged $32.50 CAD.

The screen should actually read: “Bend over, Sweetie”
air canada terry's tale of woe

That, or Air Canada should include a photo of David Beckham kicking a soccer ball. Because then it would at least seem athletic and be more fun if I were. Being bent over by Beckham, that is.

air canada misery

Air Canada is, to be sure, the ultimate nickel and dime-ing airline.

It’s actually a bit tragic because their flight crews are great and the gate agents are sort of decent.

And, because I am so totally addicted to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the situation gets even sadder for me.

That’s because Air Canada is the largest Dreamliner customer in North America.

The airline will spend $6 billion on its 2007 order for 37 Boeing 787s.

Air Canada began flying its first 787 last fall.

But forget that, because look:

Here’s a line of passengers waiting to get their pockets picked during the baggage-fleecing  portion of my Air Canada experience.

air canada line to check baggage

When Air Canada first introduced a la carte fares in 2008, it was supposed to be more honest and better for customers.

Well, it is not fair and, frankly, now Air Canada sucks because of it.

Want to get a confirmed seat? Gimme $20 or $50 or more for a premium economy seat, says the airline. Because I refused to be ripped off over my seat choice, I wound up in a window seat on my five-hour-plus flight from Montreal to Los Angeles.

It’s embarrassing to have to ask a 12-year-old boy and a 20-something guy to “please let me out to pee.” I had to beg thrice during this flight.

I always choose an aisle seat to avoid begging.

It’s true Air Canada isn’t the only airline that now views seat selection as a cash cow. Because I enjoy status with American and Delta, I hadn’t noticed that they stick it to non-elite passengers. But they do, just like Air Canada.

Chris Elliott wrote about American’s nickel and dime seat practice last June. Thank God, a few carriers do still have a heart. Both Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines let you choose a seat more than 24 hours before departure, though not necessarily an exit row.

Okay, back to my luggage nightmare.

Here’s my Eagle Creek Gateway bag that I told you about back in the beginning of the story. It left the US as a carry on, but Air Canada ordered the bag to be checked at Pierre Trudeau Montreal Airport.

air canada

Air Canada is worse than a pick-pocket because Air Canada dings you at every step.
air canada
air canada

These bags got through just fine, though.

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Back in 2004, when Celine Dion was the face of Air Canada, she recorded the song “You and I.

Video: Céline Dion – You And I

Hmm. I bet she’s flying WestJet or Delta now.

Think I’m the only disappointed flyer? No way! Check out recent consumer reviews here.

For aNewDomain, I’m travel editor Terry Gardner.

All images: Terry Gardner. All Rights Reserved.

Screenshot: Courtesy David Beckham


    • Sorry – perhaps I was on an Airbus with a 3×3 economy configuration and a narrow aisle. On a packed plane, I sometimes walk sideways down aisles because aisle passengers shoulders seem to hang out into the aisle.