Credit cards, that is.
On a morning flight to Winnipeg, I was anticipating my delicious Harvey’s ham and egg breakfast sandwich. But when I handed $5 to the flight attendant, she informed me that Air Canada no longer accepts cash for snacks, beverages or anything purchased on flights.
They don’t take debit cards either.
The transition happened May 1. But I was as surprised to hear about it as the woman seated next to me.
One flight attendant explained that FAs often had a lot of cash at layovers, which would sometimes be stolen. And they were responsible.
So this was AC’s attempt at a fix. But do you think the airline could have come up with something a little more customer-focused: say a portable terminal on airplanes to keep track of sales and a place store the cash which could be picked up and deposited when the airline landed? Takes the burden away from FAs and might be a better way to manage sales and inventory.
I asked the FA what happened to kids or teenagers traveling alone who didn’t have a card. Would they not be able to have anything to eat? She hesitated and said they sometimes gave them food for free. But what about people who don’t have credit cards? There was no answer to that.
I talked to another FA who said the airline had been informing people when they purchased tickets, but admitted her Mom, a travel agent, didn’t realize this was happening until two weeks ago. She also said that people were ringing up $3 charges for headphones; $5 for snacks, etc. and the FAs didn’t have a way of keeping a tab open (or letting people take advantage of the 10 per cent discount for $10 or more). Some FAs were using their own credit cards and then taking cash from patrons. She didn’t like the change at all.
To be fair to the airline, I checked my e-ticket and there was a mention of the need for credit cards, but it wasn’t called out. On the AC homepage, it’s simply one of the news items and not highlighted at all.
Yet for even a wrong-headed move like this, if our national carrier believed this was the right thing to do, they should have conducted a more open public information program via advertising, communications to travel agents, front lines, online, PR, social networks. You know, spread the word. But they probably didn’t want to deal with the opposition – and what are you going to do when you’re on the flight?
Trust Air Canada to find a new way to diminish customer service. We can only hope one of these days Dave Carroll is hungry or thirsty and doesn’t carry a credit card.