Miller's Monday Morning Message
Andrew Miller on strategy, operations, life balance and everything in between
My family and I were in Florida for our March break vacation and were scheduled to fly home Sunday afternoon. When I checked our flight status Sunday morning, I was shocked to discover our flight had been cancelled. That's right, a flight from West Palm Beach to Toronto on the Sunday of March break cancelled with no notice. I had checked the status the previous day and everything was fine. Apparently, this was a result of an ongoing feud between Air Canada and its' pilots union, and pilots decided to take sick days (at the encouragement of the union president) on the two busiest days of March break, so many flights were cancelled. This has been handled poorly by all involved.
We were forced to not only re-schedule our flight, but we also missed a full day of work, had to drive to a different city to fly home and paid for an extra night hotel, all with a young family in tow. And what did Air Canada offer me for this inconvenience? Nothing. No travel voucher, no offer to pay for my hotel room, no compensation. I was supposed to be satisfied that they didn't charge me a change fee and the fare differential for the new flight tickets.
Inevitably, Air Canada will cry foul and say the pilots performed an illegal strike action and the pilots will say they were stressed about contract negotiations and needed time off. As a customer, I don't care. Both sides are handling this terribly. Air Canada should have recognized this might happen and not relied on the Federal government's back-to-work legislation as a solution to the problem, and the pilots should have realized the backlash that would occur if they suddenly didn't show up for work on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.
Customers don't have sympathy for either side because they are the ones stuck at airports and hotels across North America trying to find their ways home. I hope Air Canada and their pilots are satisfied because they are no closer to making a deal and have managed to upset many of their customers. I hope customers make both sides pay for these poor decisions.
Contingency planning is a critical part of running any business and a lack of it can lead to major problems. Let's see if Air Canada and its' pilots learn their lesson the hard way.
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