Jetsgo has a business-brain-fart and I get to test the limits of my sanity
*Note: Don't forget to read the TWO updates at the bottom
Written on 12/28/2004 2:16pm, in Calgary
Well... I'm back in Calgary, and it took me about 38 hours of total waiting + travel time to get here. The storm that came up in eastern Canada was a pain, but Jetsgo was apparently in no way shape or form prepared to deal with it. My original flight (from Toronto to Calgary) was delayed 5 times, and constantly after being reassured that it WOULD come, and I WOULD fly that night, at midnight they suddenly said "Nope. It's cancelled." They left about 150 people with absolutely no idea what to do, and with no time to prepare for the night because like I said...we were never faced with the possibility of not flying out.
The worst part was how it was communicated to us at that time: "We're very sorry to say that the flight to Calgary has been cancelled. Please pickup your baggage downstairs." That's it. That's all we got. No indication that we were being put up in hotels, and likewise no information regarding any flights the next day....nothing. When pressed for info, the ONLY Jetsgo employee at the gate (who had just made the announcement) was obviously overwhelmed by the anxiety of the crowd and literally RAN away from the terminal to seek help from the administration whom we hadn't seen at any point all evening.
Now, bear in mind that this just so happened to be the first time that I thought it would be fun to inebriate myself before getting on the flight *I THOUGHT* I'd still be getting on. Sure does suck sobering up at midnight. It sucks baaaad.
Next thing I know, I'm with the same group of people, waiting downstairs at the turnstiles for our baggage to come off the planes. That didn't work out too well, and the reason why (which I found out THE NEXT DAY) was because all the baggage workers got fed up and decided to take off, leaving only 4 of them to unload all the luggage from whatever flights had been cancelled at that time. By this time it was 12:30 am
That night I slept IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BAGGAGE CAROUSEL for 3 hours until my bags came for three reasons:
1) I had no idea who to talk to for any information since all Jetsgo staff seemed to have disappeared or run away
2) All we knew was that our baggage was coming back from the holding area, and I wasn't about to go in search of a hotel or track down some hiding Jetsgo employees when the only thing separating my luggage from the outside world was an unmanned sliding door and about 20 feet of walking distance. There was NO security anywhere around the baggage turnstiles. After all the hype about increased security at airports...especially international hubs such as Pearson...nutso
3) It was a zoo. I was exhausted because I was going on two hours of sleep from the night before from having to finish my move from one house to another in Barrie PLUS pack everything up for the trip to Calgary. My carry on bags that I held with me included my $1000+ laptop, and my $400 digital camera, and there was absolutely no way I was going to try to take a nap at the feet of 300+ people when there was no security around.
4) I was half drunk and didn't really give a shit.
After getting my bags and securing a cart at around 3:30am, I had quite literally nothing to do. I didn't feel like sleeping, and didn't want to mope around like the hundreds of other stranded passengers littering the floor all over the airport. I decided to make the best of my time and do something I always played with in my mind...returning baggage carts for profit! Ever see that movie "The Terminal" with Tom Hanks? Well if you didn't, there's a scene where Tom Hanks' character realizes he can make money in the airport he's trapped in by returning carts, thus making enough money to buy food. Toronto is one of the big airports that just so happens to charge $1 to "rent" a baggage cart. If you return it afterwards, you get $0.25 back. Most people don't care about the quarter, and leave their carts all over the airport and outside along the street when they finally Long before that movie even came out, I thought it would be hilarious to spend some time doing nothing but returning carts just to see how much money I could make.
Well...in 45 minutes, I returned 56 carts, and made $14.00 in quarters. I finally had to stop returning carts when the "cart guy" gave me hell for basically doing his job. The funny thing is that I was probably making more money doing it than he was! Satisfied with my accomplishment, and another good story remembered to share with friends over a beer at a later time, I went to spend my hard-earned cash on some more terrible airport food. Yummy.
The airport soon reopened and I went to see what the Jetsgo people were up to. Wow.. I was suddenly questioning just how much my cart-returning story was worth to me. While I was thinking how smart I was on the level below, a massive line up had been forming in front of the Jetsgo counter. I stood in line with those all too familiar 300 people until I finally managed to get the attention of a Jetsgo employee who told me to stand in a different line so I could "rebook" my flight. After moving to the new line, I watched as ignorant assholes decided they'd get crafty and "make" their own lines to avoid waiting their turn. After a bit of a confrontation brought on by me pointing this out to others in my line, things were somewhat back in order, but we had to police our line and watch for people budging because the Jetsgo staff did nothing to inform anyone of where they should be standing, and which line was for what situation. They took little initiative to serve those who had been waiting in line, versus those who had simply made a new line, or had decided to just walk right up to the counter and avoid the lines altogether.
Waiting to rebook was horrible. There were TWO phone lines that were connected to Jetsgo head office in Montreal. So whoever was on my flight, plus whoever was on all the other flights that had been cancelled the day before had to wait as each and every passenger made new arrangements by talking on one of those two phones. This took me about two hours of waiting alone. During this time I still had no idea of what flights were going out, if any, nor any other kind of information. All that I knew was that I had my flight cancelled, and had to sleep on the ground the night before while clutching my belongings for fear of being robbed (yeah right, who's going to try to rob the drunk crazy guy sleeping in the middle of the baggage carousel?).
After making a booking on a flight that was due to take off for Edmonton (3 hours north of Calgary, my desired destination) about an hour later, I HAD to request a voucher for food before Jetsgo would give me anything. NOTHING was offered. They gave me $10. Keep in mind I had now been delayed for approximately 19 hours.
I got my terrible airport food and started waiting for the 9am flight to Edmonton. Then it was delayed. Then it was delayed again. And again. All this time there was nobody at the Jetsgo terminal who had any idea what was going on and why the flight was being delayed. Finally 4.5 hours later, we board the plane. It's now 1:30 pm. Everyone gets settled in and we're good to go...but there's a problem. It seems that some Jetsgo employees were spreading word that this flight wasn't going to be ready until 6:00 pm. Some passengers that heard this decided they didn't want to wait at the terminal with us die-hard folk and would wait someplace else until that time. We couldn't leave because as per Transport Canada regulation, a plane can not fly with luggage that belongs to a passenger who isn't' on the plane. The baggage handlers then had to find the baggage belonging to these missing passengers somewhere trapped within the hundreds of bags of those who were ready to fly.
We waited...and waited...and waited....then the pilot comes on the speakerphone. "I'm very sorry to say that we have exceeding our waiting time and as such we can no longer serve as crew for this flight.Ē Turns out that by Transport Canada regulation, passenger aircraft crew can only work so many hours per day, and because we had waiting so long to find that missing luggage, the crew would have worked over the amount of hours allowed by the time we got to Edmonton. So we were kicked off.
It's now 2:30 pm, and AGAIN we are all absolutely without a doubt ASSURED we'll be off the ground within an hour. All we had to do was wait for a new crew to arrive. So we waited, and waited, and waited.
Turns out there was no "crew" coming. There were pilots that could come, but there were a handful of flight attendants in the area who *might* be able to man the flight for us.
Again, the waiting....
Hours upon hours pass. For the last 2 hours, all we needed was ONE flight attendant. The pilots were there, the plane was there, the other three attendants were there, the whining crying moping strangers who now seemed like family to me now were there...but we had to wait for that last crew member. Eventually she came, and after we get on the plane around 8:30...guess what? People who were supposed to be on the plane, were gone! They had given up, which meant one thing...their luggage was on the plane! DEJA VU! So again, for the next hour we waited as the luggage belonging to those people who were unaccounted for was found somewhere in the belly of the plane.
We were off the ground at around 9:30pm.
Thank God Iíve got some incredible friends willing to drive from Calgary on Christmas eve, pick me up in Edmonton, then turn around and take me back home. On top of the gas I had to pay for that road trip, my mother wasted $48 on a shuttle bus booking that had to be cancelled thanks to Jetsgoís undue "assurance" that we would be leaving that afternoon.
I wasn't upset at the fact that there was a storm. I wasn't upset at the fact that the flights were delayed or even cancelled....but I was upset at the total lack of information that we as customers received. To be perfectly blunt, we were all held as hostages. We couldn't book new flights with different carriers because we were being assured every 30 minutes that we were about to take off, the cost of buying tickets with other carriers was upwards of 4x higher than that of what we first paid, and they were having so much trouble finding luggage on the planes, that if any of us did decide to jump on an outgoing flight on a different carrier, we ran the risk of not making it because our luggage might not have been found in time. Food vouchers were only offered ONCE and for the sum of $15 after we were kicked off the plane and had to change crews (for me, that meant $25 for over 36 hours of waiting), and I was never once asked or had anyone concerned with where I slept that night after my initial flight was cancelled..
Thereís other details regarding the ignorance of business ethics shown by Jetsgo throughout this ordeal, but at this point, I think Iím still mentally fried. I was stressed out of my mind and tired BEFORE I even left for the airport, so going through all of this somewhat turned me into a zombie. I spent close to two days sitting with people who were turning stark raving mad, those who were breaking down and crying, and others who simply gave up and walked away. At this point Iím just trying to gather my thoughts and do some research before I speak with Jetsgo about all of this. Unfortunately Iíve already made a booking over my b-day with this carrier, but after that time I'm unsure if I'll ever fly with this company again.
Written on 12/28/2004 2:16pm, in Calgary
February 9, 2005
I just received a letter in the mail from Jetsgo. Inside I found a letter of apology....and a flight voucher worth $350!
I'm very happy that Jetsgo is taking the honourable course of action and compensating those customers who had to put up with so much needless trouble and stress over the holidays. I'm still not happy with the way things worked out during those long two days, but at least they're accepting blame and trying to make things right. Right-on Jetsgo!
I take it back. What a piece of garbage company.
So I took my voucher. I took my voucher and stashed it away to use later on.
Guess what? THE MORNING AFTER I get to Calgary for my birthday, Jetsgo kicks all its crew members off it's planes at airports all over Canada, has the planes flown to an unknown secret location....then...DECLARES BANKRUPTCY!
So not only did my $350 voucher instantly become about as useful as the toilet paper I'd be using to wipe my tushy with, I also lost the money I had paid Jetsgo for the return flight to Ontario! And since I was already in Calgary, I had to buy a new ticket with a different airline just to get back.
A few days later, reports came out that the majority of Jetsgo's planes had not been repaired as prescribed by inspections, and that they were closer to being death traps than vehicles for transportation.
And the company was owned by a bunch of French-Canadians....go figure.
oh well...life goes on
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