Unprepared for take-off

Image via Wikimedia
Image via Wikimedia

Air Canada customers negatively affected by $25 baggage fee

By Angela Espinoza, News Editor and Taylor Pitt, Contributor

On November 2, 2014, Air Canada introduced a $25 baggage fee for any piece of checked luggage by passengers flying domestically, to the Caribbean, or Mexico on low-fare tickets.

As a result, customers have spoken out about the influx of personal item or “carry-on” bags checked in for Air Canada flights. The airline’s policy followed a similar one operated by WestJet, which began days before on October 29 last year.

The increase of carry-on bags has resulted in flights with overcrowded overhead compartments. despite the airline’s strict guidelines on carry-on bag sizing. Occasionally compartments have become full to the point that some passengers have been asked to check in their carry-on as luggage.

One Edmonton-based Air Canada customer, Vishal Shah, spoke to CBC about a negative experience with Air Canada’s baggage policy. Shah reportedly brought on a carry-on bag which contained an iPad and Nikon camera, and was told the bag had to be checked in as luggage before boarding his flight to India.

Shah claimed that when his carry-on was taken, the flight attendant noted his name and seat, but never provided him with a baggage tag. When Shah arrived in India, the bag was reportedly missing, and Air Canada stated the bag was never checked into their system.

“Right now the [checked baggage] charges are high from the airline, so passengers are carrying more baggage with them to save the money,” Shah told CBC. Shah stated the items lost were worth roughly $2,000.

While some have reported lost items due to late baggage check-in, others have noted resulting delays.

President of Air Canada’s flight attendant’s union Michel Cournoyer told CBC, “There are lots of delays caused by the excessive baggage. Sometimes there are 10 or 15 bags left on the bridge and only two ramp guys to come and pick up that baggage.” Cournoyer also stated that checking bags at the last minute can be overwhelming for staff who rush to tag the luggage. “When everybody is under stress and everybody wants to push back on time and people don’t want to be reported [for causing delays] it creates the perfect storm.”

Air Canada released a statement clarifying some of the confusion on the baggage fees, while also stating the number of lost bags and baggage procedures are within their industry standards.

An inquiry by CBC to Air Canada has since resulted in the airline announcing Shah is to be compensated for the loss of his items.