Comments from Readers: Air Canada’s Friends and Foes

A week ago, Spend Matters' Jason Busch wrote a rant about Air Canada Rouge after traveling on the airline’s discount service on his way back from Italy. He later shared some pictures from his flight, which showed gum stuck to the plane’s carpeted floor, a messy lavatory, and grime, food particles, and even hairs (eww) in nooks and crannies of the plane. Needless to say, this post garnered a lot of comments from our readers - some thanking Jason for the warning, others defending Air Canada. Here’s a review of the feedback we received in this edition of our Comments from Readers column.

Let’s start with the supporters - those who have also been disappointed by their Air Canada Rouge experience. Take Maddelena Tedesco, who shared her story traveling on the airline from Toronto to Las Vegas.

“The experience was horrible,” she said. “The crew very young and inexperienced, we were not informed that there was no inflight entertainment . The seating was very small and cramped, they literally ran out of overhead space ... I can go on forever however I will not. All I have to say is that we will never fly this airline again.”

Deborah, too, took an Air Canada Rouge flight from Toronto to Athens - what she described as an “awful experience.”

“This was truly one of the worst flight experiences I’ve ever had,” she continued. “I will never fly this airline again.”

Another reader, John, said he didn’t blame Jason for ranting. “Horrible horrible airline!” he wrote regarding Air Canada Rouge.

Other readers, however, did not agree with Jason’s post (that may be an understatement).

Maria, who may be a seasoned traveler (her email name is “flyinghigh3”), thinks Rouge planes certainly are not the worse she has seen. She called Rouge planes “modern” compared to U.S. carrier planes. Maria’s opinion: beggars cannot be choosers. When paying a discounted rate for a flight, don’t expect to be dazzled.

“Everyone wants to pay next to nothing to fly somewhere and look for the cheap airlines,” she wrote, suggesting travelers “read the fine print” before booking a flight.

Others suggested Jason’s expectations were out of whack. Or, that he was naive and new to air travel. For example, in his piece, Jason mentioned the lack of TV screens in the Air Canada Rouge plane, and how passengers had to download an app on their mobile device to watch in-flight entertainment. A reader named David said TVs, especially personal screens, are not standard on flights.

“Every other airline hasn't installed personal TV screens to date,” David wrote. “United flights to Hong Kong still have the TV on the ceiling and the small screens that fold down every couple of rows. That is a 15 hour flight. I would get your facts straight before commenting or at least travel a bit.”

David, also pointed to Air Canada’s high ranking - “Air Canada has been rated the best airlines in North America for 5 years straight,” he wrote.

One reader, named Jeff, made numerous comments - spicing up the discussions about the post, to say the least. Simply, Jeff told Jason to fly regular Air Canada, not Rouge (the discounted service), as the main line offers “excellent” service. In the airline industry, there are good days and bad, Jeff went on, and Jason must have just seen the airline on one of those “not so great days.”

“You likely travel very little and got hit in the crossfire of a bad day,” Jeff wrote. “Don’t take it personally, take it professionally … Life is too short to be a whiner.”

Jason responded: “If anyone is curious, I am a frequent traveller. This year, I will spend $50-60K on my own air travel for work (plus personal travel and that for my family) and I oversee a small company (23 people) travel budget that is significantly larger. I am currently Platinum on United ... I know my airlines and I think my expectations are reasonable.”

Later this week, we received another comment from Spencer. This reader brought up how other discounted airlines, including one associated with Air Canada, were not successful.

"One very important thing to note is that years ago, Air Canada already had a low-cost subsidiary, called Tango (along with other airlines, namely United’s Ted and Delta’s Song) that failed from the start," Spencer wrote. "I am actually very surprised that they would bother starting up another low-cost airline, considering that: A) They already tried, and failed, and B) Air Transat and Westjet, 2 Canadian low-cost airlines are doing very well. I am interested to see if this venture will fail as with Tango or maybe succeed."

While the Air Canada rant sure seemed to attract the most attention from our readers in the last week, other valuable posts have received some great feedback. Take Thomas Kase’s article “On Diversity Success - Why Bring HR into the Equation,” in which Kase mentions how “racial and gender bias in HR is pure poison.” Kase talked about how businesses need to focus on skills sets, like STEM, and real metrics.

The article, attracted a comment from Rob Jones: “Tom, your perspective is refreshing. The recognition of 'a long-term challenge' and a desire for 'real metrics' hits home as valid and reasonable expectations. Resolution is a bit of a Rubik’s Cube, many facets over which the hiring companies can have influence, but often little real control. Thus, as it has been in the tech sector, the 'window dressing' programs are used to obscure the internal realities of organizations until they are solidly established and can withstand the winds of public opinion. Even if these companies immediately begin to pursue the most aggressive and ranging worker pipeline solutions, 'the fix' would still be between 20 to 50 years away.”

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