travel: the good, the bad & the ugly

I made it home to Toronto safe and sound, and even landed 15 minutes early, Tuesday night. I consider this a bit of Christmas magic, as snow storms raged all around nearby airports (i.e. New York, Boston, Philadelphia, etc.), and yet Toronto went unscathed.

Still, smooth flying aside, there was a significant amount of stress caused by this trip.

photo credit: aircanada.com

photo credit: aircanada.com

Air Canada has recently introduced a new service/brand for certain popular routes it flies. This service is called Rouge.

Rouge offers different aircraft (which were fine), new uniforms for their flight attendants (which were actually very cool), different onboard services (read: LESS onboard services than a regular Air Canada flight), and – to my surprise – new rules surrounding mileage accreditation values.

The last one was my sticking point.

Warning to readers: This rant will be a classic example of #FirstWorldProblems, so consider yourself forewarned.

I have had ‘status’ with Air Canada for over 10 years now, thanks to loads and loads of travel I have done over the years. Being a member of their “Elite” status group offers many perks (preferential seating, upgrades, pre-boarding, access to lounge, priority baggage handling, no charges for checked baggage, etc.).

These are the kind of perks to which one becomes very accustomed.

And by one I, of course, mean me. I plan my travel carefully to ensure I achieve this status year after year.

Since the end of the year is quickly approaching, I took time to double check my calculations for the remainder of flights for this calendar year. I knew that the recently completed flight to/from Vegas, plus one flight to/from NYC next week, plus one more flight to Vegas before the new year, would get me enough mileage to qualify for this Elite status again for 2014.

But then I went online last week to verify my mileage credit for the flight from Toronto to Las Vegas on Nov 26th. I found a whopping 100 miles of credit for the Rouge flight, a route which would normally accrue 1,982 miles.

I immediately assumed there was a big mistake, so I called Aeroplan (the company that administers the program) to inquire.

That’s when they dropped the bomb on me:  The Rouge flight (the exact same route as I always fly) would only qualify for 100 miles.

WHAT???

Apparently Air Canada has put this new lower fare service in place ‘to compete with other low-cost carriers’ on its most popular routes (Orlando, Las Vegas, etc.).

And they have done away with regular (non-Rouge) nonstop flights to these locations.

So, let me recap: they have taken away all other options to fly a nonstop flight to these destinations — and in the process have screwed (scROUGEed) their passengers out of mileage credit. Customers who have no choice.

Their justification for doing this is that they can now offer cheaper fares for these popular routes.

Which I call a resounding BULLSHIT on.

My fare for this flight was roughly the same as I’ve paid, on average, for all my flights to Vegas over the past 4 years.

And it should be noted that when I fly a competitor (United), and book on any (read: lowest) fare class, I receive 100% of the qualifying AC miles. For flights that are often cheaper.

Ahh, gotta love the monopoly which is the Canadian airline system.

I have exchanged a series of scathing email communications with Air Canada on this matter, with no resolution (or even acknowledgment of the validity of my issue).

I then took to Twitter to spread the word about their shady Bait & Switch practices. Merry Fucking Ho Ho to you Air Canada/Rouge.

And this, my friends, was the example of The Bad in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of travel scenarios.

Air Canada stole my Christmas just like the Grinch stole Whoville’s.

Some might call this The Ugly, but I’ll categorize it as The Bad. I reserve the right to re-brand this at a future date depending on how Air Canada responds. If they respond.

Okay, enough of that. To make us all [and by all, I mean me] feel a bit better about the pending loss of my Elite status, let’s have a look at the next in our series, The Ugly, courtesy of what may be my favourite Youtube video of all time.

It’s been about 18 months since I last watched it, which made it all the sweeter when I viewed it again this morning with fresh eyes.

And suddenly I have forgotten all my Elite status/Air Canada woes and am just so pleased that whatever horror has befallen this woman did not happen to me.

It’s all a matter of perspective, folks.

Finally, and leaving the best for last, here is an example of The Good.

One of Canada’s other airlines (actually, the only other airline…), WestJet, did something amazing for passengers flying from Toronto and Hamilton to Calgary.

They restored their faith that Santa is real.

This video just melts my heart. I’m such a wuss, I literally teared up watching it.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight.

I’m thinking it may be time for me to switch allegiance and start giving my frequent-flying business to WestJet. Screw you Ebenezer Mc’Air Canada-Scrooge’ness.

Shame on you for scROUGE’ing me out of my miles.

Get moving!

xoxo nancy

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36 thoughts on “travel: the good, the bad & the ugly

    • That’s great to hear Ann. I was hoping I didn’t suck everyone into my first-world problems with the first story without offering a glimpse at some other fun (and crazy) stuff. 🙂

  1. Yes, one gets used to the perks, no kidding. And cheating like that is BAD. Rouge should be renamed something more suitable. When I saw the first video, I was afraid someone had filmed me when I lost my Chairman’s status on USAir…but then I saw it was filmed in HK (hilarious!) and on that trip, a few years ago, I was still one of the privileged ones.

  2. Ugh, I just got notice that the my debit card program which accumulates miles on one of my favorite airlines will be discontinued in three months. We can apply for their credit card with high fees and interest if we want to continue to earn miles for purchases. 😦 No thank you! And of course the ticket prices are not getting any lower…

  3. Arg!I hope they work it out with you because you have been a very loyal customer! But, like you said, at least HK woman’s issue didn’t happen….LOL! Wow, I feel terrible for her but her reaction is pretty damn funny. And, I am such a sap too, that video totally made me tear up. That is incredible that they did that and were able to pull it off! Really restores faith in some big businesses.

    • So far Air Canada has been very engaging while we’re publicly engaged in Twitter wars – but as soon as they/we move it to a private forum them shut me down again. I will keep spreading the negative press until they can explain this arbitrary rule change. So far no one has.

  4. Oh how I LOVE a big idea, big stunt, big results piece of work like that WestJet concept! Advertising/Marketing/PR at its finest 🙂 — And oh yeah good old Air Canada eh? They’ve got a great “customers last” policy — but at least they’re not United Airlines – those bastards are pure evil.

    • Bad as United is Mike (and let’s face it — they’re planes are shit, the service is shit (all connectors), but at least I get 100% of the Air Canada Qualifying miles for any ticket I book with United. On Air Canada, if I book on Tango fare (cheap) I only get 50% mileage. And if I book on Rouge — well, you saw what I got. I am so not done with these jokers at Air Canada.

  5. I thought you were a big wuss too until I watched the video and I teared up as well! Brilliant! I’ll bet the underwear guy wished he had believed in Santa and asked for a better present! Changing your allegiance to WestJet then?

  6. That’s atrocious. They could get away with it if they were also offering the full fare service to that destination and yet you chose the cheaper carrier. But yo not give you the option so they don’t have to award points is just lame. You should post this blog post to their facebook wall

  7. Every airline sucks anymore. This is yet another example of it. Delta has done similar things here, and it makes me so mad. We’ve flown them loyally for years, and they are instituting a policy next year that will make it next to impossible to be elite.

    I hope you get it worked out, Nancy. That would be a great Christmas surprise.

    • It would be a Christmas SHOCK at this point. They have completely blown me off. Other than some mild placating when I send too many negative tweets, that is. As soon as we move to Direct Messaging, they shut me down again. At this point it’s the principle of the matter. They did a bait and switch, with no communication, and I got screwed in the process. If I had any inkling I would have booked a flight on United for a lower fare and 10x the points. I start fuming every time I think about it.

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