Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Praised Be Air Canada

That's right. I like Air Canada. Although it is something of a national past-time to complain about the beleaguered airline, I've never found their service anything less than professional and helpful. Typically I fly at least several times a year, though mainly on the Halifax-Toronto route. Since June, however, I've been on at least 20 different flights, most of which have been on AC (the others on KLM and Porter). In that time, my baggage has been lost twice (something of an inevitability when you arrive at the airport with 40 minutes to spare or less), and I've experienced a number of weather-related delays and, as of yesterday, a cancellation.

What happened? Well, my initial flight from Halifax to Toronto early in the afternoon was cancelled due to the storms that have been passing through much of the country in the past few days. This was rebooked automatically due a flight later in the afternoon connecting through Ottawa. No problem there, this simply made my afternoon more relaxed. Of course, that flight was delayed by around 30 minutes, but upon boarding I discovered that I'd been rebooked with free food on the plane. Yay! So I watched two episodes of The Office on the vastly expanded on-demand entertainment system and the beginning of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles - certainly a pertinent movie for my day! Of course, the delay meant that I missed my connection in Ottawa, but it simply resulted in being booked on a slightly later flight.

At this point, this is starting to sound like a commercial for Air Canada, but I really don't understand all the bile directed at it. Air travel is hectic at the best of times, and delays due to adverse weather events tend to be handled fairly well all told. Otherwise, I like AC's entertainment system and the selection of food-for-purchase isn't bad at all.

As for WestJet? Never flown with them - primarily because they have only a fraction of the flights of AC (and hence a fraction of the scheduling flexibility) and because their prices aren't any better. Porter was neat, though, particularly the view of the Toronto skyline at take-off and landing.


As an aside, I've seen more than a few Canadian politicians and quasi-celebrities on flights or in airports. Yesterday I saw Bob Rae at Pearson Terminal 1. On my Porter flight from Ottawa to Toronto in October, I noted that Rona Ambrose, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Ex-Minister of the Environment, was among the passengers. On a flight from (I think) Edmonton to Montreal in June, Roméo Dallaire was sitting in business class - and a woman went over to commend him! Otherwise, I once saw Don Cherry and Ron McLean at the old Terminal 2 at Pearson, and I once noted CTV reporter Mike Duffy bounding about through the Ottawa terminal.

I don't know what it says about me that I had no trouble recognizing any of these people immediately.


Ladyjutea said...

My flight to L.A. was Air Canada. I rather liked it. Then again, I'm not a very demanding person. At least, I don't think I am...

Josh Gould said...

The only airline (that's still in business) that I really didn't care for was Air Transat. It was unprofessional, cramped, and the food service on a four-and-a-half hour flight consisted of squashed Subway sandwiches.

They were as appetizing as they sound.

Deborah said...

Yes, that's what I was thinking. I would never have recognized most of those people so I feel slightly dumb.

I don't think I've ever had a major problem with Air Canada. And 20 flights since summer? Wow!

Ben (The Tiger) said...

I've generally had good experiences with Air Canada. Their trans-Atlantic flights are not up to the standards of the European carriers, but as North American airlines go, they're as good as any except Jet Blue. Jet Blue rocks. (Mind you, I've never tried WestJet, so maybe I've been deprived.)

My one annoyance factor with them is how long the bilingual announcements take, which mutes the entertainment system. But that's not their fault, that's the federal government's. (Sorry, I like French, am happy to speak it & read newspapers in it, but I really don't see the point of requiring that there be announcements in garbled French on Boston-Toronto flights.)