the worst airline in the world
Starting in 2012 or 2013, Air Canada will have a policy of expiring accumulated frequent flier mileage points after seven years. For the time being, its policy is to expire any accumulated points in a mileage account that is dormant for more than one year. Of course, these policies are part of a strategy to force passengers to fly more and to redeem their points by flying more. It is a policy to generate business and capital, which the airline needs because it is a bankrupt company operating for a few years now under bankruptcy protection laws and negotiated continuation-of-business conditions. They are bad news for me, though. First, it takes me eight years of round-trip tickets to Canadain order to earn enough mileage points to gain a free (Economy Class) ticket. So it appears that I no longer have any hope of ever getting one. Second, when I ask the airline about this they proudly boast to me about the benefits of mileage points. I can rent a car. I can get a free ticket to some other destinations - for example, Asian destinations from Tokyo Narita. The problem is that I do not want to rent a car. And, I do not want to travel to any Asian destinations. I have precious little holiday time. I travel only once a year. It’s expensive as hell! So I am only interested in one destination - Canada. Third, I detest being told by the airline where to travel, when to travel and how to travel.
Maybe Air Canada is allowed to behave this way because it has a practical monopoly on the airline industry within Canada. But that doesn’t persuade me considering the competition that American carriers - which are probably cheaper and better run - offer. Unless, of course, the Canadian government is deliberately shielding the Canadian industry from disadvantageous competition with American carriers.
When I took my July vacation to Canada this year I enjoyed for the first time a personal video screen mounted on the seat in front of me. Rather than watching films, news and other video from the ceiling-mounted cabin screens I could pick from a menu and watch my things more to my personal taste. I had heard about these individual seat video screens before but had never met one. I looked forward to the same on the return trip in early August. But I was disappointed when a different aircraft - an Airbus A430-300 - was used, and once again I was back to the ceiling-mounted cabin screen. There is a trade-off, though. While the Boeing plane is remarkably wide and boasts the individual seat video screens, the Airbus is quieter and has more leg room.
When we boarded in Toronto we heard the usual introduction from the flight crew. I took it as a reflection on the kind of airline that Air Canada is as a whole when the co-pilot who was making the announcement forgot what aircraft he was operating. He began launching into an explanation of the individual seat-mounted video screens and then quickly switched to explaining about the entertainment programming offered on the cabin screens when he realized that we were all on an Airbus, not a Boeing.
Air Canada will not improve. But I remain loath to fly on a cheaper American carrier and be forced to transit through an American airport. I’ve done that in the past, but not at all since the 9/11 terrorist incidents. I’m sure I will do it again in the future, but it is not something I look forward to, and for the time being I am sticking to the devil I know.