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[CBC] 74-year-old abandoned by airport staff in Heathrow, family says

[CBC] 74-year-old abandoned by airport staff in Heathrow, family says

Old Mar 2, 2018, 8:26 am
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[CBC] 74-year-old abandoned by airport staff in Heathrow, family says

Another article... This time I think it may not be AC to be fully blamed for this...

74-year-old abandoned by airport staff in Heathrow, family says - Newfoundland & Labrador - CBC News

The son of a 74-year-old Newfoundland woman says someone deserves to be fired over the treatment of his mom at London's Heathrow Airport.

Aaron Butt says his mother was left alone outside the airport terminal in "freezing" conditions on Tuesday night, despite requesting special assistance from Air Canada on her trip from St. John's to Doha, Qatar.


"The serious negligence is with this individual, who dropped her off there," he told CBC Radio's On The Go. "This is one of the coldest days and one of the most miserable weeks in Europe, and to drop her off there and not stay with her I mean that's absolutely ridiculous."

Butt says his mom was dropped off from a golf cart, and an airport employee told his mother that a bus would come to take her to a hotel. That was after she was told she would not be able to make her connecting flight from London to Doha, and had to stay near the airport overnight.

Butt says his mother was never given anything that indicated to what hotel she was going, and waited at the bus stop alone but the bus never arrived.

He said an airport worker who took her to the bus stop left her alone, despite her protests, saying there were other passengers he needed to transport.

"After about a half an hour I knew," Shirley Butt told CBC Radio's On The Go. "I said 'there's something wrong, there's something wrong here, there's nobody else standing here.'"

"The luggage, I needed it, but at one point in time I said I don't care if ever see that again, I got to get out of the cold."

Shirley eventually made it back to the terminal, with her bags, where another airport worker attempted to care for her. This man called Aaron, and Aaron said he attempted to get help from Air Canada, but was unsuccessful.
"He, again, kept trying to find somebody to help and couldn't," Aaron said. "And in the end, he had to say to mom 'Look, there's nothing I can do to help you, so I advise you just to stay here now and wait till this customer service stuff opens up.'"

Aaron said it was 10:30 p.m. at that point, and he doesn't understand why no one from Air Canada could be reached.

"I don't know how, at 10:30, 11 p.m., nobody could be reached in an emergency situation. So there are a number of different issues here that I think need to be explained by Air Canada," he said. "You know, you trust these people."

Butt said Shirley was told by airport staff that she would be brought to a hotel. Later, she was told Air Canada couldn't be contacted to verify which hotel, and that it was best to stay in the terminal overnight until the Air Canada service desk opened.

"Mom said they looked pretty sheepish," Butt said. "She explained everything, and she said all they could say was 'oh my, oh my.'"

Wanting answers

Aaron Butt said he doesn't know the name of the man who left his mother alone, or if he's a direct Air Canada employee. However, he feels that man should be fired.

Butt has written a letter to Air Canada listing his complaints.

His family had requested special assistance and wheelchair use on Shirley's trip to visit her son in Doha, as she had recently had surgery on one of her knees.

"They should have seen her right to the hotel," Butt said.

A spokesperson for the company said that they would be responding directly to Shirley Butt and her family, and did not provide any further comment.

Shirley said her message to Air Canada is "get on the ball."

"That's the politest thing I could say. I wouldn't like to say what I'd really like to say."
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Old Mar 2, 2018, 8:43 am
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As always with these stories, there's a bunch of missing information. Such as: what happened between her disembarking the plane and the point when she was being transported in the golf cart? Surely she had some contact with an AC employee when she wasn't going to make her connection?

The dude in the cart was just doing his job. While I agree the situation was unacceptable, none of it was his fault.
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Old Mar 2, 2018, 9:09 am
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Originally Posted by Twickenham
As always with these stories, there's a bunch of missing information. Such as: what happened between her disembarking the plane and the point when she was being transported in the golf cart? Surely she had some contact with an AC employee when she wasn't going to make her connection?

The dude in the cart was just doing his job. While I agree the situation was unacceptable, none of it was his fault.
Agreed generally. Except that dude in the cart might have some empathy about leaving an elderly person out in the freezing cold at a bus stop. Said dude would be a Heathrow employee not an AC one by the way.
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Old Mar 2, 2018, 9:25 am
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Originally Posted by AtlanticXpat
Agreed generally. Except that dude in the cart might have some empathy about leaving an elderly person out in the freezing cold at a bus stop. Said dude would be a Heathrow employee not an AC one by the way.
Perhaps I am mistaken here but I thought the airline operating the incoming flight was responsible for getting people requiring assistance safely into the care of the airline operating the out going flight. If AC in this case has a contractor handling that function that does not remove AC responsibility.
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Old Mar 2, 2018, 9:38 am
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Originally Posted by Twickenham
The dude in the cart was just doing his job. While I agree the situation was unacceptable, none of it was his fault.
Well, except that he probably left her at the wrong spot? At 10 pm at the Hotel Hoppa stop, there would be hundreds of people taking buses to hotels. If she didn't see any people or any buses, she wasn't in the right place.
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Old Mar 2, 2018, 10:32 am
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Story Points to General Trend

Between this story and the one of the flyer who misconnected enroute to LAS in January for CES I think we are seeing a pattern emerge: AC support is nonexistent at outstation airports. Do you think for a second that this story could happen at YYZ, YUL, or YVR?

The trouble is management at AC can't see the bigger picture even as it strives to be a global airline connecting the world via Canada. A global airline has consistent service quality at every airport it serves (that includes concierge). Just because the AC metal stops at LHR doesn't mean the buck passes to the next airline on the itinerary especially if they are the ones responsible for the IRROP.

Just my 2 cents.

Safe Travels,
James
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Old Mar 2, 2018, 10:49 am
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Originally Posted by j2simpso
Just because the AC metal stops at LHR doesn't mean the buck passes to the next airline on the itinerary
I think it often, rightfully, means exactly that. We need to remember the chief role of an airline is as a means of conveyance, and to collectively expect hand-holding during all stages of our door-to-door journey is unfair. There remains a limit to what any airline should be obliged to do (which says nothing about what is the right thing to do).

Originally Posted by j2simpso
Between this story and the one of the flyer who misconnected enroute to LAS in January for CES I think we are seeing a pattern emerge: AC support is nonexistent at outstation airports. Do you think for a second that this story could happen at YYZ, YUL, or YVR?
Yes, sure. Why not? Also, given that AC serves LAS daily from Canada's four largest cities, it's not really an 'outstation' in any sense of the term.

Originally Posted by j2simpso
The trouble is management at AC can't see the bigger picture even as it strives to be a global airline connecting the world via Canada. A global airline has consistent service quality at every airport it serves (that includes concierge).
You have an excellent point here. The airline's service levels do not match its ambitions.
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Old Mar 2, 2018, 11:31 am
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The buck stops at AC

Originally Posted by CZAMFlyer
I think it often, rightfully, means exactly that. We need to remember the chief role of an airline is as a means of conveyance, and to collectively expect hand-holding during all stages of our door-to-door journey is unfair. There remains a limit to what any airline should be obliged to do (which says nothing about what is the right thing to do).
One thing that's missing from the story was how the itinerary was ticketed. If AC did the ticketing (guessing BA or QR for outbound to DOH) then technically they "own" the reservation and should have handled the misconnect since the contract is between the customer and AC to deliver them to DOH. Otherwise (i.e. separate ticket), unfortunately the customer is on their own. One thing to keep in mind is that AC operates out of a different terminal at LHR (Queen's Terminal) than her likely connection (i.e. BA/QR) and as a courtesy the airline should provide some assistance to the customer. That being said airlines should educate the general public on this basic fact (i.e. separate tickets are not same as single itinerary).


Originally Posted by CZAMFlyer
Yes, sure. Why not? Also, given that AC serves LAS daily from Canada's four largest cities, it's not really an 'outstation' in any sense of the term.
Correct me if I'm wrong but AC doesn't offer service between Canada and Qatar. In this situation the only way to connect to Qatar is to go through a third country connecting with another airline (likely not *A).

To your point, sure AC does provide service to LAS from a variety of Canadian cities but again there may be perfectly valid reasons to connect with a *A partner of codeshare (i.e. if the PAX was arriving at YVR at a time later than the last flight to LAS). I suspect there are way more UA flights to LAS from LAX than from YVR on AC metal. Also keep in mind that AC's route network is incredibly shallow to the US (i.e. I see flights to major cities like SFO, SAN and LAX in California but not SMF or SNA). If they want to provide Canadians with extensive US service they must work with UA whose network covers the US pretty well. Again that means they need to hold their end of the bargain and provide service at SFO and LAX and those outstations.

Safe Travels,

James
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Old Mar 2, 2018, 11:47 am
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Originally Posted by j2simpso
Also keep in mind that AC's route network is incredibly shallow to the US (i.e. I see flights to major cities like SFO, SAN and LAX in California but not SMF or SNA). If they want to provide Canadians with extensive US service they must work with UA whose network covers the US pretty well. Again that means they need to hold their end of the bargain and provide service at SFO and LAX and those outstations.
We can criticize Air Canada for many things, but the number of US destinations is not among them. They serve dozens of US cities (including SMF) and with UA as partner, there really aren't many places you can't easily travel to.
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Old Mar 2, 2018, 11:59 am
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Limited Service to SMF

Originally Posted by CZAMFlyer
We can criticize Air Canada for many things, but the number of US destinations is not among them. They serve dozens of US cities (including SMF) and with UA as partner, there really aren't many places you can't easily travel to.
Technically service to SMF (from YVR) is seasonal for the summer months. The point I'm trying to get at here is that while AC does provide service to the US, it's mainly focused on the larger cities (i.e. SFO or ORD rather than SNA or ABQ) and to a lesser extent regional airports near the Canadian provinces like DTW or ROC for Ontario. Globally the AC network has many holes (i.e. doesn't cover most of Africa, Eastern Europe and New Zealand) for which the excellent *A network has to fill in.

Getting back to the central point, AC ought to provide great support at all ends of their network - you should expect just as good ground service from AC at LHR or FRA as you would in YYZ or YUL. Heck, AC spent tons of money building lounges there to establish their presence in those markets!
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Old Mar 2, 2018, 12:12 pm
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Originally Posted by j2simpso
Between this story and the one of the flyer who misconnected enroute to LAS in January for CES I think we are seeing a pattern emerge: AC support is nonexistent at outstation airports. Do you think for a second that this story could happen at YYZ, YUL, or YVR?

The trouble is management at AC can't see the bigger picture even as it strives to be a global airline connecting the world via Canada. A global airline has consistent service quality at every airport it serves (that includes concierge). Just because the AC metal stops at LHR doesn't mean the buck passes to the next airline on the itinerary especially if they are the ones responsible for the IRROP.
That may be true. However without knowing further details, at this point what happened in the current case is quite unclear.

First we don't even know if she missed her connection because the AC flight was delayed, or because the next flight was cancelled.

Second, it apears she was not booked to a hotel or if she was she had no idea which. How? Why? How did she end up on a golf cart without that hotel thing being dealt with?

Did she get any assistance from AC (as apparently requested) at all, or not?

In summary, it is very possible that AC is to blame, but is is equally possible that AC is not. We just don't know enough.
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Old Mar 2, 2018, 12:20 pm
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Originally Posted by Stranger
In summary, it is very possible that AC is to blame, but is is equally possible that AC is not. We just don't know enough.
I think in this circumstance, regardless of the underlying circumstances (i.e. IRROPs on AC or partner side) and ticketing situation AC is to blame on the principle of the grandma test. If this was your grandma would you fob them off to a golf cart or would take the extra effort to make sure they are fine? This is a basic principle of humanity that we protect those vulnerable in society. Has AC no sense of decency?

Safe Travels,

James
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Old Mar 2, 2018, 12:27 pm
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Originally Posted by j2simpso
I think in this circumstance, regardless of the underlying circumstances (i.e. IRROPs on AC or partner side) and ticketing situation AC is to blame on the principle of the grandma test. If this was your grandma would you fob them off to a golf cart or would take the extra effort to make sure they are fine? This is a basic principle of humanity that we protect those vulnerable in society. Has AC no sense of decency?
We are not that much younger than she is, and I would not be too happy to be included in the "grandma test." Also I would think a grandma flying to Doha might not be all that clueless. So YMMV.
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Old Mar 2, 2018, 12:41 pm
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Originally Posted by Stranger
We are not that much younger than she is, and I would not be too happy to be included in the "grandma test." Also I would think a grandma flying to Doha might not be all that clueless. So YMMV.
My 105 year-old neighbor would've shaken her head and rolled her eyes at how CBC has characterized a 74-year-old.
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Old Mar 2, 2018, 2:33 pm
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Originally Posted by Stranger
We are not that much younger than she is, and I would not be too happy to be included in the "grandma test." Also I would think a grandma flying to Doha might not be all that clueless. So YMMV.
N.B. my comment in no way was meant to be ageist in so far as characterizing older people in the way the media often does (i.e. senile and incapable of making basic decisions). I also suspect someone undertaking to go to Qatar has more chops than the average kettle you'll spot at YYZ. That being said, it's a known fact that the older you get the more vulnerable you are from a health standpoint (i.e. you can't control heating/cooling as well as you are when you were 25 and immune system is weaker). Hence winter weather will take a toll on them more than it would me.

Being stranded in a foreign country stranded at night with limited help and possibly limited resources would put most travellers in a vulnerable spot. Heck I was once stranded at ORD overnight and that was a pretty scary situation. The difference in that case was that UA didn't fob me off to AC because they no longer held the itinerary. They did the honourable thing and booked me a hotel, gave me $60 in meal vouchers and arranged a cab to take me to/from the airport. Was it because I had Gold status with UA? Perhaps, but it also seems like they have some scrupules.

I think AC would learn a lot if they spent some time & money flying on their competitors to see how they handle customer service and making the customer feel valued (instead of putting SEs on hold for an hour). Also it seems to me that AC doesn't learn its lesson from these experiences. Today it's stranding a senior at LHR, a couple weeks ago it was standing a baby at LHR, a couple weeks before that it was stranding paxs at the airport for hours without food until a pilot from WS did the honourable thing and ordered pizza.

I doubt few people on FT would complain about the hard product AC offers be it on the plane (except for perhaps rouge) or in the MLL. However service for AC is consistently lacking which likely explains why they can't get that elusive 5th star from Skytrax.

I don't want to sound anti-AC but when you read these stories day in and day out you have to shake your head.
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