air canada still shines
my wife and 4 year old son flew back from toronto pearson airport to washington reagan airport yesterday, and i wanted to share their travel experience...
my wife described some new security procedures in place.
the check-in process was smooth and the airline personnel were very friendly. my wife was checking in a suitcase. they didn't bother weighing it (though it was right near the limit of 50lb with all of the presents she was bringing back).
it used to be that after checking in, you would fill out a customs form and proceed to immigration and customs. now they call you up based on your departure time (for example, they'll say all passengers with flights departing between 11am and 11:15am may proceed to immigration and customs). the immigration and customs process was very smooth - the immigration and customs officers were very friendly.
after that, you go through security, just as you did before. again, everything went smoothly and the security officers were very friendly.
after passing through security, you are in the area with the boarding gates. you would normally be able to go anywhere in this area, but yesterday, they had a security checkpoint limiting your access to only the hallway where your departure gate was located.
there was a further security check as you entered your gate area. this was a physical inspection of your hand baggage and your person. again, the security personnel were specially friendly. they checked my son by tickling him, and talked with him so as to make him feel comfortable with the process. this specially impressed me, because if this is not handled smoothly, a child a feel very traumatized.
the flight left only five minutes late, and arrived on time.
my son asked, and got to go up to the cockpit and meet the pilots and got wings stickers. i was so glad to hear that even with heightened security, they still take care of the kids this way!
kudos to the air canada ground agents, immigrations, customs and security officers, as well as the flight attendants for being specially friendly and thoughtful in their interactions! it makes the traveling process all the more enjoyable!
That's nice to hear. You know, us Canadians are jaded sometimes. We routinely complain about Air Canada. The actual service personnel are quite decent, but management it seems makes the most nonsensical decisions sometimes. And, we're limited in choices. Across the nation, Air Canada is pretty much the only airline that goes everywhere; WestJet still misses some major areas.
And Aeroplan, the "points" company that handles the frequent flyer program for Air Canada, often claims to be voted #1 in customer satisfaction, but just about everybody I talk to complains about it because we can never seem to actually do anything with those points.
Fun times we live in, but nice to know your wife and child were treated so nicely.:D
Complaining about Air Canada seems to be a Canadian pastime so it's refreshing to hear some positive comments once in a while. My husband worked for Air Canada for 37 years and will be happy to hear about your experience.
On another note - can you comment on the carry on baggage limitations? I hear you are only allowed a personal item on flights from Canada to the US. I was wondering if I could get away with a Smart Alec... What kind of bags did people bring on board?
let me preface this with a disclaimer that while i pay close attention to what everyone is carrying, my wife is completely oblivious to these details :)...
Originally Posted by peregrina
she says that people were carrying small carry-on's, like personal items. she carried just her purse.
Originally Posted by ozone
we actually almost always fly on aeroplan points when we go up to toronto. it's usually 15k points round trip, and this sometimes means taking the 6am flight up. i think it's more challenging to use points for certain destinations. my wife's sister lives in las vegas, and i know that for her parents to fly to las vegas on aeroplan points is slightly more challenging.
I've personally found that Air Canada is usually much more picky in terms of what qualifies (or used to qualify - past tense maybe from this point on) as a carry on compared to what some of the US carriers allowed in the past.
Probably because us Canadians are always trying to sneak on dog sledding equipment, block heaters, and snow shoes... :D
You know Maverick... in the past, I've found it easier to use my Aeroplan points in and out of Canada. Within Canada - forget it... it's like trying to do a PhD.
Originally Posted by maverick
What also is aggravating is that when you book via Aeroplan using the web, you get somewhat odd flight itineraries. However, if you're willing to pay a few bucks and contact an Aeroplan agent directly, you get sometimes a much better travel arrangement. And the weird thing is... the agents have no idea what the web options are! I've asked and they've specifically told me the web is a separate business unit. Does this make any sense?
I've actually switched to RBC Avion: its a points system via Visa that (supposedly) allows me to get rewards flights on *any* airline. We'll see how well that works... ;)
we made several trips up to toronto over the summer because my wife's mother wasn't well.
Originally Posted by ozone
i forget why now, but my wife's and son's flight from toronto to washington reagan was canceled, and my flight from toronto to raleigh durham was delayed. they announced that those with checked bags needed to make their way through immigration, get their checked luggage, and then go through customs before being able to rebook their flights. that means that they would need to go through u.s. immigrations and customs, as well as security again before they could rebook their flights.
those with carry-on luggage only could go to the customer service counter in the gate area and rebook their travel, and wouldn't need to go through customs and immigration if they were being rebooked on another flight the same day.
on another occasion, air canada asked those with roll aboard suitcases to gate check their bags. i walked onboard with my aeronaut and placed it in the overhead bin which was almost completely empty.
yup, we've run into the same thing with aeroplan online vs. telephone bookings.
Originally Posted by ozone
i've also seen the same thing with delta rewards travel, except that delta doesn't charge a booking fee for booking on the phone. if i use delta miles to book a ticket to india, their online system will route me from washington, dc to new york to paris to delhi or washington to atlanta to paris to delhi, whereas on the phone, they'll route me from washington to paris to delhi.