Matthew Lewis, The “Harry Potter” star tweeted his displeasure at being upgraded to coach.
For years, I’ve had a secret belief that national airlines from nations known for their hospitable citizens prefer to hire individuals on the other end of the personality spectrum.
I have had several bad encounters with both Iberia of Spain and Sri Lankan Airlines. True, there are counter-examples: on Ethiopian Airlines and Ryanair of Ireland, I have always found the personnel to be friendly and good-humored.
But my contention is that nations with warm, pleasant populations are so well-disposed to their fellow humans that they are willing to endure awful service. Since home-country citizens make up the greatest proportion of customers, the airline may thus get away with bad service.
Where this is more obvious than at Air Canada. The Canadian national airline has some great pilots on staff, but I’ve had terrible experiences on four different AC flights only this month. The flights from Quebec City and Winnipeg to Toronto both left late, and both waited an extra half an hour at Canada’s largest airport for a gate.
Not only was there no service during the flight but there was also no explanation of why I was still in Chicago when my ticket said I should be in Montreal.
Actually, I have already done a number of podcasts for The Independent this month, complaining about my early morning arrival in Quebec’s biggest city and contrasting Air Canada unfavorably with UK cheap carriers EasyJet and Jet2.
Thus, it did not come as a major surprise when Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis criticized Air Canada online.
Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis Tweet:
“Confirmed. The worst airline in North America is Air Canada. The actor who played the likable Neville Longbottom in all eight Harry Potter films tweeted, “And that’s saying something.”
Confirmed. @AirCanada is the worst airline in North America. And that’s saying something.
— 🇺🇦Matthew Lewis🇺🇦 (@Mattdavelewis) August 26, 2022
Lewis was apparently mistreated by Air Canada Rouge employees at his departure gate in Orlando, Florida (the budget subsidiary operating the flight).
It’s the same as kicking me out of first class and putting me in the rear of the aircraft, but you’re doing it at the gate. Literally ripping my ticket up. No explanation other than ‘full flight’,” he added. Suggested I contact customer support if I wanted to resolve the issue. I inquired as to its location. ‘Toronto’. My current location is Orlando.
That Lewis was uninterested in the airline’s offer to “sit back and relax in our pleasant economy class cabin” was obvious. He was anticipating “an exclusive cabin with broader seats and more room to spread out,” as is promised to first-class passengers on Air Canada Rouge flights.
I can say without a doubt that I have never been through anything like that. I’m used to being pushed out of the way. This is just part of the job. But without an explanation or apology as they stood at the gate with boarding less than two minutes away? Never. The actor went on, “They even stated if I wanted to complain or obtain a refund I had to contact them.
Air Canada states in its tariff guidelines that it would “refund the ticket difference for the impacted flight” if such a problem develops.
It’s important to note that the 33-year-old actor did not spend the night on a grueling transoceanic flight; the 1,055-mile distance between Orlando, Florida, and Toronto’s Pearson International Airport can be covered in under two hours on a good day. A jaded traveler could say his predicament belongs in the box labeled “First World Problems,” and that’s where it belongs.
I do, however, have a few words of counsel for Lewis. To begin, Air Canada isn’t the only option; reputable WestJet connects Orlando and Toronto, among other destinations, and offers stiff competition to Air Canada.
The second evident benefit of always purchasing the lowest ticket, as I do, is that you never have to worry about being demoted.
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Third, I doubt the celebrity has given any consideration to his claim that “We as a culture should not be cool with normalizing the profiteering of overbooking planes and forcing people off aircraft.”
In North America, overbooking is standard practice, and it typically benefits all passengers since airlines provide discounts or other perks to those who are willing to downgrade their ticket or take a later trip. The approach permits more people to fly, hence inflicting less harm per person to the environment, and also provides hope to tourists who are very anxious to go on allegedly completely filled flights. Magic.
Kindhearted folks must have come up with the idea. Most likely, Canadians.