More Air Canada passengers air their frustrations with customer service

After we told you about a father and son’s struggles to get answers from Air Canada after being bumped from a “trip of a lifetime” flight last month, CityNews has been hearing from more passengers frustrated with the airline and its customer service.

Among them is Scott Burnham from Oakville, Ont., who had planned a dream trip with some family to see Canada’s men’s national soccer team play in Las Vegas at the CONCACAF Nations League Finals.

He was to travel with an uncle, a cousin, and a good friend, all Team Canada supporters, to watch the semi-final match against Panama.

Burnham says it was to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip with his aging uncle Kevin Grant, a national men’s team alumni who played for Canada in the 1976 Olympics.

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“We booked through the Air Canada Vacations website, which you would think would be simple enough,” Burnham told CityNews. “Everything was good and we got all the emails ahead of time and they sent us the check-in the night before.”

Burnham says that is where they started to see a problem, getting an error message on the last step of the online check-in, telling them to speak to an Air Canada representative at the airport in Toronto the next day.

“So, we get to the airport the next morning, nice and early, and we go to scan the passports in, and again an error comes up and says go to the help kiosk. So, we get in that line,” Burnham explained.

“We give the person at the desk our passports, she checks them and gets a look on her face like this isn’t good. She says there is zero record of us on the flight.”

Burnham says luckily his uncle had printed out all the itineraries, confirmations, and other emails related to the trip, but customer service again told them there was no record of them being booked on the flight. They were given a card and told to call a number. Burnham says the customer service rep actually tried for them.

“She sat on hold for almost an hour before anyone picked up. This was an employee of Air Canada! Even she couldn’t get through.”

By that point, Burnham says they had missed their flight and were not given any options or information about rebooking on another flight.

“Eventually we get through to Air Canada Vacations and they tell the rep the purchase was cancelled by the credit card company.”

Burnham says they immediately called their bank and were told there was no issue with the payment. He also confirmed it with their hotel in Las Vegas, which was still expecting the travellers.

Burnham claims repeated calls to Air Canada resulted in the same answer over and over again — call the bank.

“I said I have called the bank and they tell us there are no problems and the payment has gone through and that we need to talk to you. We are just going around in circles at this point. You just want to smash your head against a wall!”

Burnham has since filed a complaint with Air Canada and was told it could take 45 days for a response.

In the meantime, he says they are out of their trip and $5,000 as they wait for answers and, hopefully, a full refund.

“There’s no answers, there’s no help and it feels like they just keep shutting doors on you so eventually you just get frustrated and don’t want to follow up. Small claims court is probably the next best step,” Burnham says.

“None of it makes sense, it’s so confusing. If everything has been cancelled, why does Air Canada have nothing but the hotel does have a record of us? Why is there half a vacation?”

Burnham says Air Canada’s front-line customer service representative at the airport was trying to be helpful, but the overall experience has been horrible.

“It’s like being stonewalled. The minute they thought it was a financial issue and management came over, boy their tone changed immediately,” he said. “And it’s funny that you guys are employees and you can’t even get through on the phone line for over an hour. What hope do regular people have to get through on these things if their staff can’t even get through to get answers?”

In a statement to CityNews about Burnham’s experience, Air Canada said it “is looking into this matter to determine what happened, and will be getting in touch with the customers directly.”

Burnham says he has yet to hear anything from Air Canada or Air Canada Vacations.

“All I know is that we got robbed of a once-in-a-lifetime trip and it sucks.”

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