Air Canada takes credit

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.


6 thoughts on “Air Canada takes credit

  1. Martin:

    United may end up going the way of Zoom. Reference my Zoom experience. The fact that the airline industry has one of the worst customer service ratings must be a fact they are proud in having.

    Customers need more than a Bill of Rights. Too bad we couldn’t pay them for the flight once we arrive at our destination based on our experience.


  2. Martin:

    I love this video clip! What a clever, fun way to get the point across–loud and clear–United Breaks Guitars! Apparently they did not know who they were dealing with when they so blatantly disrespected your guitars. Perhaps they will think twice now before displaying signs of blatant disrespect–perhaps not.

    I think they could use a good public relations person about now, don’t you? Their public image has become slightly tarnished. Thank you, Martin, You Tube and social media for keeping us in the know.

    Linda Silfies
    Georgia Southern University, PR student

  3. Hi Martin, Having taken a few flights since May 1 I’ve seen a couple of people scuppered by this announcement – including the man in front of me a few weeks ago who didn’t speak much English, asked for and received his food then had to give it back when the attendant asked for a credit card. Very poor! I haven’t checked this out but the man beside me on a flight today told me the policy confuses him because Jazz (a subset of Air Canada) actually only takes cash and won’t accept credit cards. Curiouser and curiouser.

  4. Thanks for your comments. It’s pretty clear that some airlines need to do something to fix customer service. Hopefully, they’ll start to listen.

    And Anita, I’m just amazed that someone was made to give back a meal. That’s a lack of class (even in coach)!

  5. Martin:

    I recently flew Business Class on AC (on points). I had one of those great new “pods” where you can really stretch out and relax. The FA and I got into a conversation about the pods, comfort, and how little room there is in Economy Class these days (especially for a guy like me!). She lowered her voice conspiratorially and whispered, with a smile, “Do you know what we call them [Economy passengers]?”. “What?”, I asked, in an equally low voice. “Cargo!” she said. She went on to explain that in the old days the Economy passengers paid for the flight, and Business Class was the gravy. Today, it’s the reverse. They don’t give a damn whether or not Economy passengers are happy.

    Steve C.

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