Dear Air Canada

Dear Air Canada;

I used to proudly fly Air Canada. Only Air Canada, wherever possible. It was a badge of honour to reflect my quintessential Canadian-ness. Even seeing that maple leaf on the tail made my heart swell just a bit every time. Even though I had no role in its operation, somehow I felt a shared pride in this airline that reflected our nation. That just by being Canadian, we were connected. And the fact that the workforce was unionized only made the connection deeper. And the pride. Pride that we Canadians treated our workers with dignity and respect, offering superior wages and benefits, which in turn reflected in the exceptional service the satisfied staff provided to its loyal customers. And I was a loyal customer and advocate.

And so today, as Canada gears up to celebrate its 150th birthday, may I ask: what the hell happened to you?! Now, my pride is replaced with embarrassment. When did your economies trump humanity – the bottom line rise above all else? When did a packet of peanuts become too much too ask? Or a single piece of luggage too challenging to include in the already inflated fare? Or, God forbid, a glass of water and a glass of juice too demanding?

And the final insult to our sensibilities: Air Canada Rouge. Again, I simply ask – what the hell?! I’ve now had the distinct displeasure of flying Rouge on 3 flights – to Ireland, Costa Rica and Florida – each more unsettling than the last. No more.

How did this once pride-inducing airline sink so low? When did it happen? Perhaps I should have seen it coming when the airline spent obscene amounts of money ‘rebranding’ at the same time it slashed compensation packages to its employees. And people wonder why the attendants or pilots may be a little less enamoured with their jobs? Hey, here’s a thought. Maybe it was because Air Canada paid a whack of cash to Celine Dion to sing a promotional jingle while it cut rights and benefits of its long service loyal workers, the backbone of the company. Or maybe it was because at the same time the airline was crying poor, it added insult to injury by paying preposterous amounts of money to paint its fleet red, white and blue. And what was up with that anyway? Last time I checked those were the colours of the United States of America. When did the airline decide it was embarrassed by its Canadian-ness? That it needed to blue-wash its red and white.

Think again Air Canada! Perhaps you’ve forgotten your target market. You may have brushed that blue on a little thick. Your management and staff got the blues too, it seems. And now, so have your soon-to-be former customers.

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