For the longest time the good people of Canada have been held captive by a greedy, mismanaged, overpriced national airline. I remember the halcyon days when there was more than 1 national airline and Canadian air still flew. I used them on more than one occasion and always appreciated the service I got.
But then Canadian air went bankrupt, Air Canada bought them out along with their debts and even though they have a virtual monopoly on the skies above Canada, they've had to declare bankruptcy twice yet they're magically still flying. How you can do this is beyond me, but then I guess this is what happens when you're a crown corporation and the government supplies funding.
Anyway, once Canadian air folded I needed another airline and while I wasn't pleased about it, Air Canada was the best deal around. It wasn't their prices, their food or their serice (of which all three pretty much suck) that made me choose them, it was the fact that I could get a direct flight to just about anywhere in the world. Personally I hate indirect flights and having to wait in an airport for three hours just to get to my next plane.
Then a little over two years ago I come to Japan for an extended stint and of course take Air Canada. I get to the gate only to be told that I need to go to the other end of the terminal to sign in. I look at the sign that said "domestic" above me and since my first flight was domestic (we had an unscheduled stopover in Vancouver) it made perfect sense that this was the right place to be. No, I'm told to go to the other end and when questioned about this the Air Candada woman humphed and acted like she was so put out by the question, "Oh *I* don't know! You just need to go there!" and stomped off to harass somebody else.
So I lug my bags all the way to the other end of the terminal paying special attention to the signs and they specifically said . But I continue walking anyway. Only after I had passed the gate for the US I found something interesting, Vancouver was considered to be International as it was at the complete other end of the terminal, segregated all by itself past the International entrance.
Finally everything falls into place and there are no real issues upon getting to Tokyo. I flew Air Canada a few times more between Japan and Canada with no real problem with the exception of the food, the service and the fact that the planes need a major overhaul but that's another story.
Then, recently there was a bit of a family tragedy in which my Grandfather became very sick and subsequently died. Needless to say I was pretty broken up about this and had to head back and grabbed the first possible plane back home. At this point I'm not thinking about the price or anything, it's an emergency and I need to get back home. Unfortunately he died while I was in transit so I had to make another trip out to Montreal where he lived.
After the funeral I get in touch with Air Canada and ask them how to go about getting a bereavement fare. Tokyo to Toronto at the last minute can be rather expensive and I wasn't able to get any of this information before. They were very helpful until I told them I had come in from Tokyo when they suddenly stopped and said that kind of fare wasn't possible for flights between Japan and Canada.
Excuse me? Was it Asia that was excluded, or maybe countries like Australia since they're so far away? No, just Japan. When asked about why they said we needed to contact the Air Canada office in Tokyo. No, I'm asking you why this isn't possible. I paid full fare to get a last minute ticket and it cost me close to $4000.
I put up with a crying baby, lousy food, poor service and three movies that I wouldn't even have wanted to see if they were free (which they were by the way) to get an "econony" fare so I could attend my Grandfather's funeral. Had I known this I would have shelled out another $2000 to get into business class but at least I would have had better service, better food and legroom.
When I asked to speak to her supervisor the girl on the phone refused saying there was nothing she could do about this and it was company policy. For the next two days I tried to get some kind of answer out of these people but nobody was willing to speak to me. The policy was what it was and there was nothing that could be done. Thank you for choosing Air Canada.
The only good thing that came out of it was I cancelled my return ticket (as it was full fare I was able to cancel half of it). I then went to Flight Centre and booked a return trip to Tokyo (again on Air Canada) which cost me about $1000 less than my return trip would have cost (and it was still less than a one way trip) and once back I cancelled my return ticket.
Air Canada is not getting any more of my money. Ever. I'll put up with the stopovers, but I won't fly Canada's national airline ever again.