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CBC - AC employees trained to dupe pax on oversold flights

CBC - AC employees trained to dupe pax on oversold flights

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Old Feb 10, 19, 8:11 pm
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CBC - AC employees trained to dupe pax on oversold flights

This won't be good for PR. From CBC, Sunday February 10, 2019

Air Canada employee says staff trained to 'dupe' passengers at risk of being bumped from oversold flights

The airline says overselling is carefully managed, and employees are trained to be transparent with customers

A pair of Air Canada insiders are shedding light on the airline's policy of overselling flights, revealing what they say is a widespread practice of duping passengers into believing they have a seat on a plane and stringing them along until the last possible moment.

As a way to try to maximize revenues, airlines are allowed to sell more plane tickets for a flight than there are available seats, but the former and current ticket agents who spoke with Go Public say Air Canada is less than transparent with customers who are likely to be denied boarding because a flight has been oversold.

"It's never fun to have to lie to people," said the former customer sales and service agent, who worked at Air Canada's check-in counter at Vancouver International Airport for several months before quitting just over a year ago.

"I had to tell people over and over again that they were gonna get on the plane, when I knew that they might not."

The other insider, a longtime Air Canada ticket agent who still works for the airline and trains employees, says he is now one of the people teaching new agents to not be forthcoming.

"I say to the new hired agents, 'You can't put up with confrontation all day long. If someone has 'GTE' [for "gate"] on their boarding pass, it means they don't have a seat. But if you explain that to them, they'll get upset. So just send them to the gate,'" he told Go Public.

"I train people to dupe passengers."

The day he spoke with Go Public, he said he'd pointed dozens of Air Canada customers to a gate knowing they didn't have a seat.

CBC has agreed not to identify the current and former Air Canada employees because doing so could jeopardize their current employment.

Air Canada says the practice of overselling is carefully managed, and employees are trained to be transparent with customers.
'Every route could be oversold'

The former Air Canada agent said he contacted Go Public because he wanted travellers to know how often staff are forced to scramble to find seats for passengers stuck on oversold flights.

"I was shocked," he said. "I had no idea that Air Canada was doing this at this scale."

Story continues here
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Old Feb 10, 19, 9:02 pm
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There is really nothing new here, as everyone in the airline industry, and also the governments, knows that overselling seats is a carefully managed practice. It’s an extremely difficult process to manage the dynamic or fluid the flow from early bookings to filling up the seats of an airline at departure time. Because of such booking practices, you don’t know for sure whether or not a plane will have seats filled, and thus you don’t know who may get the last seat or some passengers are more flexible in voluntarily taking later flights. The article, like a class CBC’s anti-Air Canada attitude, made it almost like the front line employees were trained to deliberately cheat passengers. Most airlines go through similar processes, and all governments are all familiar with overbooking, a balance of making effort towards a profitable business and screwing passengers. Otherwise governments would have long introduced legislations to ban overbooking. The subtlety is to determine if there are bylaws or regulations in place to prevent that airlines try to cheat passengers: you knew for sure they will never be able to get on this flight, yet you still tell them they would.

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Old Feb 10, 19, 9:12 pm
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GTE can mean there are only preferred seats left.

Or that Y is overbooked but J is wide open.
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Old Feb 10, 19, 9:20 pm
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What's really interesting is the internal documents from Air Canada on their denied boarding policy that were leaked as part of the CBC story. That can be found here on document cloud.
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Old Feb 10, 19, 9:20 pm
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
GTE can mean there are only preferred seats left.

Or that Y is overbooked but J is wide open.
Or that they are overbooked by like 8 seats and there is some IDB coming.

Which is more likely?
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Old Feb 10, 19, 9:26 pm
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I guess check-in agents would have a decent idea if an oversell is so severe that IDB's are likely.

Why doesn't AC just produce a pamphlet that spells everything out, in plain English, how the VDB/IDB process works, and what compensation is due? And put said pamphlet at every gate and check-in. Just referring to obscure tariff language isn't good enough.

Also, they're 'supposed' to solicit VDB's from *all* passengers, even those who have seat assignments and have boarded. But how many times do we hear that basically they don't bother soliciting from the already on-board passengers before they effectively pit the remaining GTE customers against each other to accept the lowest compensation?
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Old Feb 10, 19, 9:40 pm
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Hmmmmmm, I smell a need for ratings. Is it February sweeps yet?

CBC published this article in 2017. Thanks to their efforts, you'd have to be living under a rock not to understand the concept of overbooking.




https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/air...ited-1.4065603


In terms of the current CBC news item posted by the OP, I'm curious what the motivation was by these current and former agents to talk to the CBC. I'm not disputing that overbooking exists. Airlines admit to it, the CBC says "It's a perfectly legal practice and based on a statistical analysis of previous passenger trends and the number of no-shows in the past. "

I just don't understand the suggestion that at this point in history, consumers who fly are unaware of these things. Even if you don't read the CBC, most people have social media access.

And, while looking at this 2017 article, I note the CBC made it instructional in tone, with section headlines like:

"Why airlines overbook
What if airlines stop overbooking?
What happens when an airline is overbooked

Who gets bumped? (with excellent positioning of a photo of Dr. Dao being dragged off the UA flight)

How much compensation will be offered?
How often does overbooking happen?"

And look, CBC even offers tips for customers:

"What can passengers do to avoid being bumped?"

So, perhaps someone thought the public needed an exposť that focused on crying kids and missed honeymoons. I'm more interested in why CBC felt the need to publish this and of course I loved the quote in today's article that WestJet, "told Go Public it does not "intentionally oversell" seats."
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Old Feb 10, 19, 9:42 pm
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
GTE can mean there are only preferred seats left. Or that Y is overbooked but J is wide open.

Originally Posted by RatherBeInYOW View Post
Or that they are overbooked by like 8 seats and there is some IDB coming. Which is more likely?

Probably the former. VDB will take care of most passengers that can't be loaded.

I know once/year no status passengers that got and opup because Y was oversold and they had GTE on their boarding passes.
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Old Feb 10, 19, 9:44 pm
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Ahh yes, the good old justification for a dishonest practice: It's a carefully managed practice.
Con artists carefully manage their prospects and victims too.

If a customer purchases a ticket, the customer has a reasonable expectation that he or she will fly. Air Canada as a business practice can deny passage to customers who have purchased the lowest airfares offered by the airline, but the airline does not warn the customer that this is a risk specific to the airfare. Nor is there an obligation for the airline to provide notice of this risk.

If any other business enterprise sought to cancel a sales contract on this basis, the business would be subject to legal liability and sanction by the laws that apply to fair dealing. Only the airline industry in Canada is not obliged to honour a sales contract.

I anticipate that someone will be along to say, but if the airline was required to be transparent, airfares would increase. The answer to that claim is a resounding no. The issue here is not the denied boarding: Rather, it is the failure to disclose and to warn. The airline knows that airfare classes like W, G, S, T are at risk. As such, it should provide a clear warning that denied boarding is a distinct possibility. Even when the airline knows that denied boarding will occur, it will still send a pax to the gate causing stress, delay and hardship for the customer.
Most of the folks dutifully lining up at line No. 4 have no idea that they are at risk of being denied boarding. It's wrong. Give the customer the option of purchasing a different airfare class such that the risk of being denied boarding is reduced. However, if Air Canada did that, it's airfares would be more expensive compared to West Jet, which does not have an intentional denial of boarding business strategy. One cannot prosecute an unfair competition claim because this deceitful practice is allowed in Canada. The Minister of Transport did not address the issue when he had the opportunity to issue updated consumer rights legislation.
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Old Feb 10, 19, 9:47 pm
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Originally Posted by Transpacificflyer View Post
If a customer purchases a ticket, the customer has a reasonable expectation that he or she will fly. Air Canada as a business practice can deny passage to customers who have purchased the lowest airfares offered by the airline, but the airline does not warn the customer that this is a risk specific to the airfare. Nor is there an obligation for the airline to provide notice of this risk.

If any other business enterprise sought to cancel a sales contract on this basis, the business would be subject to legal liability and sanction by the laws that apply to fair dealing. Only the airline industry in Canada is not obliged to honour a sales contract.
Schedule is not part of the contract. Airlines cannot unilaterally decide to refund. Refunding requires the passenger's acquiescence (although admittedly airlines do their best to let naive people believe they can). But there is no issue of violating the contract.
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Old Feb 10, 19, 10:28 pm
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Originally Posted by pitz View Post
Why doesn't AC just produce a pamphlet that spells everything out, in plain English,
The AC Contract Translated into Plain English

Since Noah built the ark when things start to go awry airline agents have been telling customers what they want to hear rather than deal with the backlash they will inevitably get if they tell the truth. What is possibly new, but not particularly surprising, is AC actively training the agents to obfuscate the truth. Not that anyone else has ever done this (the telecoms and banks leap to mind).
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Old Feb 10, 19, 10:39 pm
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Originally Posted by tracon View Post
Probably the former. VDB will take care of most passengers that can't be loaded.

I know once/year no status passengers that got and opup because Y was oversold and they had GTE on their boarding passes.
Yes, now that people have a better idea of IDB and because of some of the recent fiascos they are more likely to get volunteers by offering enough money. The point is that with GTE on your boarding pass there is a significant chance that you are not getting a seat unless people start going for the VDB $.

I picked 8 out of the air because I saw a YYZ-LAX last year that was looking for that number of people. They did not get it and there was some IDB. Also saw it on a YYZ-YOW a couple of weeks ago too. This is still happening all the time.
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Old Feb 10, 19, 11:04 pm
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Also, "dupe" is a bit of a strong word in the context.
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Old Feb 10, 19, 11:28 pm
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Interesting that as part of the document upload, the CBC has published the phone number for Revenue Management OPS: 514-422-6303.

Perhaps if I need some I class availability for my next mini-RTW, I could just call up and ask?
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Old Feb 11, 19, 12:10 am
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Originally Posted by swonder View Post
Perhaps if I need some I class availability for my next mini-RTW, I could just call up and ask?
"We're experiencing unusually high call volumes, please remain on the line and an agent might bother with you sometime today. Or maybe tomorrow."
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