Carrie Shoemaker has a few choice words for Air Canada.
“Horrendous, appalling, inexcusable” are among the adjectives Shoemaker uses to describe her experience with the air carrier during the first week of December.
The Cincinnati-based frequent flier took an Air Canada flight from San Jose, Costa Rica to Toronto. At Toronto Pearson International Airport, she was scheduled to connect on a final leg home.
“They told me I missed the flight when I later learned it hadn’t taken off,” Shoemaker told Global News in an interview.
Shoemaker is one of a growing number of Air Canada customers complaining about serious problems with reservations.
“I’d have to be a masochist to fly Air Canada again,” Shoemaker said.
In November, Air Canada began to implement its new Amadeus Altea Suite Passenger Service System developed by Amadeus, a Spanish travel software company.
The system replaces one that has been in use for about 40 years, according to the airline.
In November, Air Canada told Global News technical issues with the new system were only affecting “a relatively small number” of customers, fewer than one per cent.
“Overall, the new system is functioning as expected,” said Peter Fitzpatrick, an Air Canada spokesperson, on Nov. 22.
Since then, however, Global News and air travel complaint sites have been inundated with hundreds of comments and complaints about problems with Air Canada.
Some customers said the airline’s website or mobile app did not allow them to make changes to upcoming flights. Others said they were unable to get through to reservations agents because phone lines were jammed.
At one point, Air Canada admitted it had too many calls to place them in a hold queue.
“Not putting anybody on hold? I’m like, this is nuts!” said Ray Stuive, who is flying from Las Vegas to Edmonton in January.
Stuive’s flight was cancelled and re-booked by Air Canada. But he said he needed to speak to an agent to find a different return flight.
“They just say, ‘sorry, can’t,’ put you on hold, try another time'” said Stuive.
While waiting to sort out her connecting flight from Toronto, Shoemaker said she was “verbally abused” by agents when she asked for information.
Shoemaker says one agent advised her to get rid of her hand luggage.
“They told me to throw my bag away, or go back through security, or live in the airport,” she said.
Eventually, Shoemaker was able to board the delayed flight, which was not listed on any announcement signs, she said.
“We have addressed the lack of gate details on the flight information screens as this certainly added undue stress to an already difficult experience,” wrote Kurosh Minocher, director of passenger and development for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, in an email to Shoemaker.
“It should have been available for you on a flight information screen at the airport,” Minocher acknowledged.
Shoemaker said the airline ought to have refunded her fare based on her experience. But she said Air Canada instead offered $500 towards a future flight.
Shoemaker said she will never fly Air Canada again.
— With files from Sarah Ryan