Okay, friends, sometimes my flights are long and I’m tired and my patience wears thin with airlines, with flight attendants, with taxi drivers, etc. Recently, I wrote about being on a long series of Air Canada flights from Oregon to Prince Edward Island and being really unhappy about being denied what I believed to be a pre-paid meal on my flight back from Montreal to Vancouver. I wrote a pretty hot opinion piece in this column (“Air Canada: Policy Over Service”). I’m here to say I was wrong. Air Canada was right. I apologize to my readers and to Air Canada.
Here’s what happened: I’d asked the travel agent to purchase me a meal on the long legs of my round trip flight and received my itinerary that had the knife and fork icon, which I assumed meant she’d purchased the meals. It didn’t mean that. My ticket classification allowed for purchase of food from Air Canada’s on-board café; not pre-paid meals with the price of the ticket.
The confusion got thicker when I boarded the flight from Vancouver to Montreal going to the Island and the flight attendant didn’t have her list of people who’d purchased meals. I told her I had and she gave me a sandwich with no question.
However, on the return flight, the agents did have that list of pre-paids and my name wasn’t on it. I was tired and hungry and I firmly and politely let the Air Canada agents know I wasn’t happy. They told me that my itinerary showed that meals were available for purchase, not that I’d purchased one. And, it turns out, they were absolutely right. However, not knowing that, I stubbornly refused to purchase a $7 sandwich and instead went hungry for the 5+ hour flight.
I promptly wrote a column here lambasting the company for poor customer service. I posted that column here and forwarded the link onto the media contact for Air Canada. I also filled out a complaint card onboard. Today, the company emailed me and said their records indicated I hadn’t purchased a meal and they were sorry for the confusion and they offered 10% off my next Air Canada flight. That’s a whole lot more compensation than a $7 sandwich is worth, even if they had made a mistake–which they did not. Now that’s good customer service, even if I don’t deserve it.
I called my travel agent and she confirmed she hadn’t, in fact, purchased meals and that, yes, my ticket classification only allowed for purchase of food onboard.
I was wrong. I jumped to conclusions. I gave those flight attendants what-for – politely, but I was still a pain.
I apologize to those flight attendants. Their job is hard enough without some haughty traveler like me giving them grief over a $7 sandwich. Getting all hot-and-bothered over this mix-up did me no good and it certainly did them no good.
What I take away from this rather embarrassing experience is this: Don’t sweat the small stuff, especially when you’re traveling, which is often tiring and frustrating enough. Getting worked up about the little things is toxic. It creates bad vibes and health research actually shows that the small stuff we get all worked up about is what is really bad for our health. We can handle all the big traumas life throws at us. It’s those $7 sandwiches; those drivers who cut us off in traffic; those phone calls at dinner time that we get angry about that really hurts us.
I’d have been much better off if I’d have just paid the darned $7 and tried to clear up the confusion later with Air Canada. That’s what the flight attendants patiently tried to explain to me. My strident certainty that I was right made the flight attendants journey much less pleasant and I’m really sorry about that.
I am removing the opinion piece I wrote on Air Canada. We don’t need to spread around that kind of misinformation. I’m also not going to take advantage of the 10% off Air Canada offered me. I don’t deserve it; I should pay them 10% more for being an incorrigible customer!
Sorry, sorry, sorry, Air Canada. Sorry flight attendants. This egg on my face feels lousy and I promise to learn from this and be a better traveler. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor