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When airlines are actually accommodating

So lots of people are quick to complain when airlines and other companies are horrible (I mean - I don't blame them) so I just thought I'd relay my good experience with Air Canada (and hope I don't jinx myself by making my flight late or cancelled).

So have tix to fly in Sept direct from Halifax to London. They fly the Max 8 planes, which have been grounded. Well, I knew the inevitable would happen and that we were going to be rerouted (happened to my mom back in April). And last week I got the itinerary change email. Well dang - they want to reroute me thru Toronto with an arrival time not conducive to the connecting flight we want. I'd seen people complaining about long wait times on hold, so I tried to see if they could help me via Twitter or Facebook, but was told to call the reservations line.

So I resigned myself to prob a 45 min plus wait and an argument to have our flight changed now, as it says on their website they are only really dealing with people 2-3 weeks from their travel dates. I did research beforehand on other airports and flight times so knew what I wanted. Took a deep breath, called Monday around 9am...and got thru in 6 min. AND - the lady on the phone was more than happy to change our flights to go via Ottawa (they fly a smaller plane and the arrival time is juuuust right). She even asked if I wanted to change our flight coming home (tho I am holding faint hope that the planes will be back up and flying by then, but I'm 99.9% sure that won't happen - I'll deal with that later). I was off the phone in 11 min! So kudos to Air Canada for making at least one customer happy.

Feel free to share good stories about companies coming thru for you!

Posted by
2046 posts

The truth is airlines actually are accomodating and do good service much more often than the "horror stories".

But people only bother to talk about them when (A) the airline does something wrong or (B) they get told "no sir you can't have a refund because you have a hangnail, we actually mean 'non-refundable' when you purchased, not not refundable except for you and your 'special' case."

Over the years I have discovered that the "airline staff is rude" is code for "I wanted to do something not allowed by my ticket and they said no". In addition "everyone at the airline is rude" is code for "I treated them like my personal staff and they didn't worship me". (The exceptions to these rules are a few budget carriers where Customer Service training consists of "the customer is always wrong" SPIRIT I'm looking at you!)

However, if I were you I would have gone ahead and fixed your return. From what I am reading it looks like there is no way the Max8 is returning to service this year. They found another issue in late June!

Posted by
1102 posts

I had a really great customer service experience with Delta once. We were flying Delta operated by Air France and the French pilots went on strike. Luckily I heard about it a week before our flight and so called and the rep. I got rerouted us cheerfully and with great speed. No issues. By the time our flight home came up they were off strike. Good to hear when customer service is actually good.

Posted by
3789 posts

Another fellow Cdn flyer here. I know Air Canada gets a bad rep - but of course, as you mention, every airline gets complaints over kudos.
AC is my usual provider, but on the occasion I book with WestJet, they have provided similar service.
More often than now now, flights get changed and the ones provided are not to my liking. But like you, I have reviewed my options then picked up the phone. WestJet dropped the seat costs on one ticket, which was nice as it involved 3 flights coming and going but got me where I wanted to be at the time I needed to be there.
Often, I book several (sometimes many) months in advance but I have never been refused service if more than 3 weeks prior to date. That's a feature I haven't seen myself. On at least one occasion, I had to call twice to reschedule their changes and never had any issues with doing so.
Yes, there are negative experiences, and also down right terrible ones that are as unexpected for them as the traveler, but I find a lot of the negative posts are either unrealistic expectations, inexperience or lack of personal research, or starting off with a negative approach and it escalating from there.
I am actually surprised how many people don't realize that they have the option to refuse or at least attempt to negotiate the flight changes they get emailed. They too readily accept it then b%$ch.

Posted by
3936 posts

Maria...the comment about ‘3 weeks before’ is because they are dealing with a much higher volume due to all the rescheduling because of the Max 8 grounding.

From their website
“If you currently have a reservation for a flight between now and September 02, 2019 that was scheduled to be operated by a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, we've implemented a policy that makes it possible for you to make voluntary changes to your itinerary within three (3) weeks of your original travel dates.”.

My flight is Sept 12, which is why I thought I’d have issues.

I’ve never flown Westjet and have had pretty good luck with AC. The worst was when we were flying to San Francisco in ‘13 and our flight from Halifax to Toronto was cancelled due to something mechanical. It was 8 hrs before we could get a flight to Toronto, meaning we didn’t arrive in SF until something like 1am. We didn’t even get any food coupons in Halifax but maybe at the time we should have asked. On the flip, when my mom got rerouted thru Montreal earlier this year and the flight was delayed about 90 min, they gave her 2 $10 food vouchers without her even asking. She didn’t use them and gave them to us, so we will use them on this trip.

Posted by
3789 posts

@Nicole, now that you mention it, AC is good for pre flight 'issues', but sometimes not so much on the ground. My daughter got caught up in the downtime of their computers in May(?) and they didn't reimburse all their expenses...and didn't take into consideration the exchange rate. They provided an evoucher for future flights, but she isn't inclined to fly with them anytime soon. As it the evoucher is transferrable, I'll use it for an upcoming flight and DD can have the cash instead.
Delta had numerous delays one time when I was in Newark waiting for a connection. As we arrived early from Ecuador and still had about 6 hours until my flight to Ottawa, I asked if I could be changed to an earlier flight. They accommodated that but then there were mechanical issues so every 2 hours they updated us and handed us another $10 food voucher. I ended up leaving about 15 minutes before my original flight but was well fed and watered during the wait. I still had the long wait, but if I had kept my flights I would have had to pay for all the meals.
With the new Canadian air passenger rights that came out this week, I will be really curious how that affects everything or anything. They seem too good to be true so it might mean increased flight costs to cover the compensations made. For our global friends on this forum, here is a link to Canada's new Passenger Bill of Rights https://airpassengerrights.ca/en/

Posted by
1220 posts

I've generally had good luck with Delta, both fairly far out when I've asked for another routing sue to schedule changes and during IRROPS where they've been willing to get really creative in rebooking to minimize my travel disruption.

Posted by
28119 posts

as a non international flyer - what's IRROPS?

Nice positive account, Nicole P

Posted by
3493 posts

IRROPS = IRRegular OPperationS

In other words, delayed or cancelled flights.

Posted by
2787 posts

I had a great experience with Air France when, similar to jlkelman's posting above, my flight was on the day of one of their strikes last spring. I called and talked to the nicest lady who changed me to a Delta flight that I felt was even better, and which I recall had been a more expensive flight that I had elected not to pay for originally.

Posted by
166 posts

We recently booked flights to Copenhagen on Delta but had a computer message that the transaction failed so we went through the entire process again and received a confirmation from Delta. Later we discovered we were billed for both transactions so I called the Delta customer service and she said “oh, I see you are double booked, which one do you want to keep?” She was very efficient and helpful.

Posted by
608 posts

That's so great! I had an awesome experience with Delta this year. I bought my tickets for our trip 9 months in advance and then my mom had to get heart surgery right before our trip. I called Delta to move our flights back by 3 months, prepared to pay the change fee. I was told I couldn't because it would push the flight date to more than a year after purchase, and the tickets would be expired. I was really disappointed and explained why I wanted to change. The agent said she would see what she could do. Not only was she able to make the change, but she waived the fee for all three tickets and wished my mom a speedy recovery. Thanks to that sweet lady, we leave on our adventure tomorrow!

Posted by
926 posts

I like hearing good stories like this! I just had a good experience with American. I had tickets for a few months from now to fly St Louis to Charlotte to Munich. The Charlotte to Munich flight was canceled. I called American when I got the notice and got through to a person in about 5 minutes. They searched several options for me, but found only options that involved three flights for me to get to Munich the day I want to go. So I got off the phone to look for better options and found a better one on Delta. I called American again and again got through quickly. I canceled my reservation with American and was told it would take 10 days for the refund to show up. The refund was showing on my credit card two day later. Both representatives I spoke with on American were friendly and apologetic for the change. Even though I canceled with them, I was really happy with the way they handled it.

Posted by
327 posts

Another Kudos to Air Canada story, about a flight attendant who went over and above ... and made me very happy!
On a flight home to Canada following a business trip to Japan, I was tired and jet-lagged, and left an item on the plane that had slipped down between the seat and the window. It was a folder that had my name and company name on it. I realized the next day that it was missing and called the airport, as well as AC's customer support center to report it lost.

A few days later, I received a call at my office that this wonderful flight attendant had found my folder at the end of his day in Vancouver; he offered to send it along with one of his colleagues to deliver to our airport on their next scheduled flight. I drove to the airport and picked up my work documents. But that's not all - he called me again a few days later just to make sure that I had received the folder! Wow! (He could have just sent it to AC's lost and found dept. - but he said it looked important and wanted to personally ensure that I was reunited with it!)

Posted by
3789 posts

I wonder if sometimes the attitude is driven by the location?

I flew to San Antonio February 2017 on an AC/United codeshare. I was in the terminal and realized I had left my glasses and book in the pocket of the airplane. I went to lost baggage depot to find out how to retrieve them. They called and my items were at the check in counter at the gate. There were a few comedy of errors flub ups getting me back through security to the gate, but I never saw anyone so happy to join a passenger with her stuff as those attendants. You would have thought they were reconnecting me with my child.
On the flight home from that trip, my United flight was delayed and I still had 2 more flights in order to get home, so United sent me over to the Delta desk to fly me home. There was no squabbling, they initiated the suggestion to change airlines and it was all dealt with within 10 minutes.
To add to this story is my surprise of just how friendly the folks of San Antonio seem to be. There were a few on the far opposite end of the spectrum, but most of my encounters were helpful, happy, friendly folks. Moreso than I have experienced anywhere else...so that is why I wondered if the location engendered the level of consideration.

Posted by
481 posts

My mom had to cancel her non-refundable ticket due for medical reasons and American Airlines gave her a full voucher for use within the next year, without even asking for medical documentation. Very nice and it came at a time when she was disappointed in missing her trip, and she should be able to retake it soon.

Posted by
302 posts

A shout-out to Icelandair! They are rescheduling flights around the Max 8 grounding. We were originally scheduled to fly KEF-PDX in late September; received notice yesterday that the flight has been cancelled. We now will return one day later, and Icelandair will take care of our hotel for the extra night. They have been very pleasant to work with.

We've had positive experiences with Alaska and Delta, too. With Alaska, we received ff miles and front-door delivery of delayed luggage less than 12 hours after the delay. With Delta it was a travel voucher. Yes, we've had some negative experiences--but have also learned how we might do things differently the next time. My hat is off to those airline customer service employees who fix all these problems!

Posted by
3936 posts

An update to accommodating airlines. Well, we haven’t flown yet, but Air Canada once again came thru. Hopefully I don’t come back after our trip with a gripe.

I checked our flights today because I wanted to make sure our seats/flight times hadn’t changed (9 days to go!). I’ve been doing this once a week. Well, to my surprise, they switched planes coming home from London to Montreal, and our preferred, exit row on the side seats were now two seats in the middle of a 4 row aisle. Still ‘preferred’, but stuck in the middle. Almost every other preferred seat was taken, except one at the front and the aisle seat in our row.

I looked into just changing our seats over to the side in the cramped seating, since the plane was now a 2-4-2 layout instead of 3-3-3. But it didn’t look like it would refund me for my seats I paid for. So I contacted them via twitter and asked if I would get a refund for the difference if I switched our seats to the cheaper seats. Well, they said that I could keep the preferred seats but they would refund what I paid for them. I said, well, if you’ll change one of the middle seats to the aisle seat and refund me for one seat, that would be fine. Well, not only did they refund me for those two seats and change the one I asked about, they also refunded all my other seat selections on our other two flights (keeping us in the same seats) and gave me preferred seats for the short flight from Montreal to Halifax that I hadn’t selected seats for yet. So they refunded me $448 and gave me another $60 in advance seat selection. That cost was probably 1/3rd of the ticket price.

So I’ll give their customer service another thumbs up and hope to god things don’t change again. I’m sure there’s going to be a delay or something.

Posted by
2051 posts

I do love reading positive posts about the airlines we all (have to) use. Nicole, don't be looking for problems----you'll for sure find them! You obviously know your way around booking flights and kudos to you for this. I know all will go as you are hoping so have a great trip. And kudos to Delta, too. My good stories are all domestic airlines-Southwest. Fortunately, I have never had any issues with my overseas flights; they have all ben great.

Posted by
250 posts

Delta Airlines

I live in Atlanta, so almost always fly Delta. Here are three good experiences I've had in the past year:

  1. I booked a flight and made a boneheaded mistake and picked the wrong date (I've been known to do this with hotels, too!) Totally my bad. I called and talked to an agent who gladly changed it to the right date for me with no change fee.

  2. My brother and I were scheduled on a 7:00 pm flight home. We wrapped up our business and arrived at the airport much earlier than we anticipated - at 2:30 pm. So just to see if it was possible, I called Delta and asked if they had an earlier flight we could take instead. They put us on a flight leaving at 3:00 - we barely made it! - and not only charged me no change fee, but refunded a portion of the fare because there was only one Comfort + Seat available (I got it and my brother went to the back of the plane - but hey, I was paying for the tickets!) We got home before our original flight had even taken off.

  3. I booked a flight for my son and his three-year-old daughter. After booking, you then get to choose your seats, but I found there weren't two Comfort + seats together on the flight. I called Delta and the agent worked with me to find a comparable flight with two seats together. Again, no change fee.

Honestly, knock on wood, I've never had a bad experience with Delta. I've run into the occasional surly flight attendant ("If everyone would PLEASE take their seats, then MAYBE we could push away from the gate on time for once" or something to that effect) but mostly I've been pleased with the service on the phone, at the gate, and on the flight.

Posted by
15051 posts

My go-to airline is El Al, not because of the airline but because I'm in Israel and it's usually my best option for European and Far Eastern destinations. They have had a well-deserved reputation for bad service for decades. In recent years, I've had reasons to call them to resolve or avoid problems and in every instance, the person on the phone was friendly, helpful and patient. British was the same when I had to change my flight home from Chicago with not much more than 24 hours notice.

Posted by
1013 posts

I have had pretty good customer service overall with BA. Most recently, a flight from Philly to London was severely delayed which would have negatively impacted my ongoing flight London to Munich. The plane was deadheading across the Atlantic, but would have gotten to Philly at least 12 hours late. Anyway, I got on the phone to BA who got me on a different flight to London which would have allowed me to make my connection.

When I got to the Philly airport, I stopped at the BA desk to confirm plans, and the customer service rep there questioned why I was not re-routed to the direct AA flight Philly to Munich. I had no idea it even existed (it not longer does). With little time to spare, the rep sent a minion haring through back passages of the airport to reach AA and confirm they would take me on their flight. Answer was Yes! The rep booked me on that AA direct flight - relief. He was older, experienced, and clearly had some authority. A newbie may not have thought of and executed this switch. I was very thankful.

Now AA - why did you cancel that Munich connection??!!

Posted by
1075 posts

In 2005 my wife broke her ankle so we had to cancel a trip to Italy. The trip was rescheduled for later in the year. We actually went to our home airport and talked in person to a Delta representative. The agent said You didn't plan to break your ankle - I'm going to waive the change fee.

Posted by
3936 posts

And another shout out to British airways.

Backstory...when I booked our tickets to Prague, our flight from Ottawa was supposed to arrive at 10:30am. Then they changed the flight to arrive at 6am, so we were all of a sudden going to have a 7 hr layover. I sent BA a message on twitter but they told me to change the flights would cost $375cdn. So I resigned ourselves to either paying for a lounge or hiding in harrods shop for 6 hrs.

I thought it wouldn’t hurt to check at customer service when we arrived. I wasn’t expecting much because of the strikes over the last few days...figuring the flights would be sold out. Wellllll...they had some seats for the 9:55 flight and switched us over at no charge. So we are right now just waiting to catch that flight.

Thank you British airways!

Posted by
124 posts

Southwest allowed me to rebook my TPA-SJC flight after our Trans Atlantic Cruise and we get home at 2:50 PM vs 10:45 PM at night. We also were able to rebook the PHX-SJC flight for the 8:00 PM instead of the 7:55 PM Flight home from our Winter Holidays. These flights ended up costing more!

So its great to get the flights you want!