A positive story about Air Canada

I have written a few posts on this blog about Air Canada, and most of them have been negative. However, just to show that I don’t have anything against them, I did want to post a positive story.

Last night I arrived in Las Vegas and after a few minutes it became clear that someone had accidentally taken my suitcase off the carousel and left with it. It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure this out because I was the only person left waiting for a bag and there was only one bag left. The problem was, it wasn’t my bag.

Air Canada immediately contacted the person whose bag it was, found out the hotel they were staying at and within three hours had my suitcase delivered directly to my hotel room. I went from frustrated to satisfied very quickly and I was impressed with the speed at which they dealt with the issue.

As I’ve said before, it’s not about whether or not you make a mistake, it’s about how you deal with that mistake that differentiates you from other organizations.

Meeting customer expectations half the time

As a follow-up to my post, Foiled again by Air Canada, I did in fact make it out of Toronto that same day (albeit two hours late). I then experienced a one hour delay on my flight home from Providence yesterday.

So I decided to do some digging. Thanks to a wonderful iPhone app called FlightTrack, I was able to see the statistics for the Providence-Toronto flight route for Air Canada. What I found was shocking. Planes flying from Toronto to Providence or vice versa only arrived on time 52% of the time. Barely half of the flights arrived on time. Almost 25% of those late arrivals were more than 45 minutes late. And another 10% got cancelled.

How can any business be successful with that track record? Imagine only meeting your customers’ expectations 50% of the time.

Well, at least they got me home safe and sound. There’s something to celebrate!

Foiled again by Air Canada

The time was 3:00pm and I was sitting in the executive lounge waiting to walk to my gate for my Air Canada flight to Providence, Rhode Island for a business meeting. I was holding my breath as I watched the Departures screen. “Why?” you may ask. Because I have taken this same flight on four previous occasions, and not once have we left on time. Couple that with the fact that this morning’s Providence flight had been cancelled, and you can understand my apprehension to celebrate my good fortune that the flight was showing “On time” only 45 minutes before my departure time.

Alas, it was not to be. In the 10 minutes it took me to walk from the lounge to the gate, my flight got delayed by two hours. For a mechanical problem, or some other excuse that came up.

Why does Air Canada keep doing this to me and why do I keep coming back? It’s simple. Because they can and because I have no choice.

As I sit in the lounge hoping that my flight leaves on time for the new departure time, I just can’t stop wondering what would happen if I ran my business like this? This flight route uses older planes that appear to consistently have mechanical problems causing flight delays and cancellations. So why fly them? Why put your customers through the frustration of showing up, only to deal with delays, cancellations and rude gate agents? Are one of these planes eventually going to stop working in mid-air?

I want to stop writing about Air Canada or have them do something positive so that I can say nice things about them, but they keep giving me new ammunition to build on my previous post To achieve operational excellence, do the opposite of Air Canada. Let’s hope this story has a happy ending. I’ll be sure to let you know.