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Customer Service
COMPLAINT: AIR CANADA will charge me if I don't take their flight!

 
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  #1  
Old Mar 25, 2013, 5:44 AM
shawnkinley shawnkinley is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
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I fly tomorrow... AC844 Not looking forward to what is ahead. (thanks to Air Canada). Here is a note I just wrote to a consumer help group... it sums up my experience over the last three hours.

Hello,
I am not sure who to turn to or speak with. My issue with Air Canada will not be heard by Canada Transportation until 30 days after the incident occurs (and it WILL only occur tomorrow MARCH 25) while Air Canada responds with "there's nothing to be done".

I appreciate your time for reading and apologize if this is not your area of help.
My Story:
I travel 9 months of the year. I travel TOMORROW. I have a flight on Air Canada. It flies Calgary/ Frankfurt / Oslo. And then It returns from Oslo to Calgary.

Work has come up for me in Frankfurt so obviously I have chosen to disembark in Frankfurt and make my way to Oslo on my own later for my return flight in May. As a courtesy to Air Canada, I called them tonight and explained that I would not be using the second portion of my purchased flight. I did not ask for a refund. I believed it was the right thing to do in case they 'oversold' their flights which they sometimes do, or just so they wouldn't have to concern themselves with vegetarian meals which I ordered.

They explained that by not flying to Oslo, my return flight would PROBABLY be cancelled. They said I would have to re-book the flight to only go to Frankfurt where I would be charged approximately ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS. My only recourse is to fly to Oslo, and book another flight back to Frankfurt- GO BACK TO WHERE I JUST WAS 8 - 20 hours later (- at which point I will have missed two pieces of work - teaching and directing a performance in Germany).

The first Air Canada employee understood that it was insane but "it was policy" but he agreed to talk to a manager who said that the computers would automatically react and cancel my flight home if I did not take the second part of the flight. The manager, who I spoke to after the first employee said that I would "probably" lose my flight.

If I buy some food and only eat part of it, I am not charged more. If I get off the bus or taxi early I don't get charged more. Air Canada stops in Frankfurt and I would have to change planes anyway. My luggage would be on the carousel with everyone elses. BUT... if I walk out of the airport and not onto another air canada flight, it will cost me 1000 dollars.

I'm not sure if there is anyone at the consumer association who can help me. BUT if there is ANYONE willing to help, I would greatly appreciate it.
Shawn Kinley
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  #2  
Old Mar 26, 2013, 12:44 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Location: Shropshire, England
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This bizarre pantomime is designed to protect the airlines revenues, because of their byzantine pricing systems. You are not alone in your frustration, but they will not change this policy for you. There is some light at the end of the tunnel. The EU is proposing to ban this practice for flights originating or departing from an EU country.
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  #3  
Old Mar 29, 2013, 4:13 AM
easygoing easygoing is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 7

In this situation you thought your pre-alert of not flying the second portion would be a good faith unfortunately it was not been appreciated by airline as you expected and even they disallowed it
apparently what the airline considered is the revenues which are supposed to be generated by their meticulously designed pricing system and your practice did not accord with this system ,as Mr.Jim said you are not alone in this frustration
airline pricing system or operation procudures may not be as same as what a normal our passengers thought ,I am sorry for the unconstructive advise .
but at least you contacted them in advance and obtained the negtive information just
better than you come across an unhappy surprise when you take your return fly and find it canceled
just hope more customer-friendly rules will be set out and enforced
good luck

Last edited by easygoing; Mar 29, 2013 at 4:16 AM.
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  #4  
Old Apr 25, 2013, 10:27 PM
Survivor Survivor is offline
Air Canada Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Alberta
Posts: 50

Chances are, had you tried to buy a ticket off the website on the 25 March to fly Canada - Frankfurt then Oslo back to Canada you would have reacted the same way you did when the agent told you it was going to cost you $1000.00. Prices go up! That's natural with any business. If you bought sneakers for $89 and you return them and all they have in the store is $150.00 or higher; you have choices to make!
The perception of breaking a journey into its little components of flights is common but it really has no bearing. The fact the flight went through Frankfurt just confuses the issue, you could have just as easily been routed through London or Amsterdam to get to Oslo. That may have improved your perception of your request; ie it's easier to see changing London to Frankfurt as a change; opposed to "not getting on the plane" in Frankfurt since you were there already. It is still a change from your original journey. You are subject to the same cost anyone would be if they decided on the 25 Mar they wanted to travel "the next day" to Germany - sometimes it's cheap; most times it's not.
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  #5  
Old Apr 26, 2013, 1:07 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Survivor, that is a disingenuous analogy. He was not purchasing a last minute ticket to Frankfurt, he was already booked on a flight to Frankfurt.

This is the equivalent of someone purchasing two performances at the opera. After attending the first performance, the customer decides to leave at the interval, only to find the opera company cancelled his ticket for the second performance, with no refund, as punshment. Sounds ridiculous doesn't it? But somehow, the airline has brain-washed you into thinking this is reasonable. Fortunately, the EU will soon regulate to prevent this.
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  #6  
Old Apr 26, 2013, 2:50 AM
Survivor Survivor is offline
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I'm pretty sure he said he bought a ticket to go to / from Oslo? He happens to be going through Frankfurt which would have been one of at least 3 choices if bought on AC website - London/Frankfurt/Munich; more if he bought it on Orbitz, Expedia or Travelocity. Your missing the point with your analogy - he is not going back to the same theatre; he's trying to go to a different theatre (Germany not Norway).
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  #7  
Old Apr 26, 2013, 5:16 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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He is booked to go via Frankfurt and wants to skip the Frankfurt/Oslo leg (ie, the second half of the performance). Air Canada have already allocated him a seat on both flights, there is no additional cost to Air Canada if he chooses not to take the second leg. In fact, Air Canada choose to see this as a potential loss of revenue, because they can manipulate the rules to their advantage by suggesting that this change means the customer should pay the "walk up rate". Why should he? They have known in advance because he booked it in advance.

I cannot see what is has got to do with it that he could have routed via London, Paris or Timbuktoo. He didn't... Air Canada are in no way materially disadvantaged by this change, and could potentially be advantaged by it. Luckily, EU regulators are taking action to stop this kind of abuse of power by the airlines. The fact that you cannot see the point, and continue to defend the indefensible says a lot about the training and attitude of airline employees.
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  #8  
Old Apr 26, 2013, 5:57 PM
Survivor Survivor is offline
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The product purchased was for a network of flights. Since nobody flies Canada to Oslo non-stop, even Air Canada doesn't and neither does SAS. The only way he can get there is 1) buy individual tickets with each company (this trip is actually AC to FRA and either LH or SAS to OSL) via his intermediate points (the one way model) or 2) deal with a network and its rules. He bought a product that doesn't allow for stops otherwise the person handling him would have charged him 100.00 plus his change fee of 250.00 and that would have been the end of it. This is about the product you are buying no long meeting the need. The EU may regulate airline can no longer do that, effectively breaking up the concept of a through fare over more than one airline which will ultimately result in higher cost for consumers. He would then "fly au natural", no more hidden marketing currently exercised to give benefit to these types of journeys. His trip would then be a cost from Canada to Frankfurt with AC, then another fare from Frankfurt to Oslo with Lufthansa or SAS. That reduces airline liability actually since these through fare marketed deals protect you if one airline is late and they have to put you on another. The fact he wouldn't show up for a flight speaks to overbooking, the onward carrier out of Frankfurt doesn't get paid if they don't show - as a business person you are okay with being left in the lurch for a spoiled seat?? Overbooking is a direct result of the type of behaviour your saying the EU is going to regulate. Sometimes what the consumer wants is not necessarily in their best interest.
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  #9  
Old Apr 26, 2013, 7:27 PM
Der Richter Der Richter is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Survivor View Post
Sometimes what the consumer wants is not necessarily in their best interest.
I, for one, welcome our new airline overlords and look forward to the many new policies that will be implemented in the future that are in my best interests.

How fortunate we are to have Air Canada employees making all our difficult decisions for us!
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  #10  
Old Apr 26, 2013, 11:27 PM
Survivor Survivor is offline
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The thru marketing of fares is what pays for your flight protection when flights are late, the transfer of baggage between carriers and the ability to "thru-check" to your destination. If it comes to the point regulations become a hindrance to these agreements - they can cease. So what was a "fairly smooth" journey will become a journey to hell. You've experienced a taste of that when thing "go wrong" on your journey. Wait until it becomes the norm; picking up your bag after your first flight, slogging it to the next carrier. Too bad for you if we missed your connection, we are no longer responsible for you! You're stuck in Frankfurt? Well too bad for you, you only bought a ticket with us to Frankfurt and we got you there even if it is 10 hrs late; we can compensate you for being late - but we don't have to pay for your hotel because you thought "thru-fares" were a rip-off. Like I said - careful what you wish for!
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  #11  
Old Apr 27, 2013, 7:26 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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The proposal by the EU to modify Regulation 261 does not in any way prevent the through marketing of fares and this kind of "catastrophic consequences" of minor regulation is typical of the airlines response to regulation. When 261 was initially implemented, the airline associations (both the European Low Cost Airline Association and the legacy carriers) argued that there would be bankruptcies caused by the regulation and that fares would increase dramatically. Neither happened. It is hysterical nonsense.

The reason airlines prevent this type of change is to protect their bizarre and byzantyne pricing models. In reality, pricing of flights is ridiculously complex and not based on cost, but rather based on the need to feed giant hubs in which one or sometimes two airlines have effective monopolies. This is a problem in both Europe and the US and inhibits competition and the development of customer friendly point to point routes.

In order for Lufthansa to control the market in Germany via Frankfurt and Munich, they created two huge hubs and need to direct traffic via the hubs to the make the connecting flights viable. Likewise, Air France control Paris and Lyon, British Airways control Heathrow, and so the list goes on. In North America, there are dominant hubs throughout the continent which inhibit competition and effectively create a series of local monopolies. Delta in Atlanta, United at Newark, AA in Dallas, etc.

These hubs create bizarre pricing models in which a flight from say Toronto to Frankfurt (a high demand route), could cost more than a flight from Toronto to Oslo, via Frankfurt. In the past, passengers used this to their advantage, by booking through tickets and abandoning the second leg. This was the natural response of the market, but airlines don't like markets which work, as competition depresses pricing so they simply changed their Terms and Conditions to allow them to cancel the contract, so that their abusive pricing practices could continue.

Airlines are so abusive that there was a recent example where a passenger was travelling transatlantically on a Delta flight and their child was involved in serious car accident. When they arrived in London, enroute I think to Rome, they heard the news and immediately broke their journey and flew back. When the mother finally made it to Rome, she found her return ticket had been cancelled and that Delta were demanding a ridiculous fee to get her home. This despite, it was airline staff who had assisted her to get back home and she had booked additional flights with them to facilitate the journey home.

The decision of the airlines to abuse their passengers in this way is outrageous. To see tragedy as a revenue opportunity to be exploited in not unusual in the airline industry and the only way to prevent this is to regulate.
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  #12  
Old Apr 27, 2013, 1:21 PM
Survivor Survivor is offline
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So we are not really talking about airfares and markets. We are talking about consumers not taking the steps to protect their investment. Now I get it. When you buy a home, the seller should help replace your house if its destroyed in a fire; the car dealership should replace your car if you have an accident. Because someone buys an airline ticket and didn't buy travel insurance; the Airline should pay for that. I realize the barrage of "you heartless wanker" comments I will receive, but seriously your pulling the "take advantage of tragedy" card when countless businesses OTHER than airlines do??
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  #13  
Old Apr 29, 2013, 9:03 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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This mantra is often repeated by airline employees. In reality, the unfairness and one sidedness of the contracts of carriage are a direct result of the hub monopoly system. The modern airlines are the direct descendants of the "robber barons" who controlled the railroads in the 19th Century.

These massive controlling hubs are effectively local monopolies. If you live in the Greater Atlanta area, you are stuck with Delta, if you live in Charlotte, NC get used to US Airways, if you live in London, learn to love British Airways and if you live in Toronto, embrace Air Canada. The barriers to entry for new entrants, who could compete on service and price are huge. The major carriers work in concert to apply the unfair Terms and Conditions and passengers have no effective choice. This is particularly a problem in the US, as there is virtually no alternative public transportation option. At least in Europe, you could take a train.

The only way to deal with this is regulation.... and hopefully the successor EU Regulation 261 will further attack the abusive practices of the airlines. The airline contracts are unbelievably unfair... it is time for updated international treaties and greater regulation by national bodies.

This is absolutely about markets and their abuse.

Last edited by jimworcs; Apr 29, 2013 at 9:06 AM.
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