affective design

Exploring Emotional Design

Air Canada Ignores Experience Across Channels

Every time I’m forced to book a flight with Air Canada, due to the virtual monopoly they enjoy on Canadian flights, the experience can only be described as…horribly disjointed. Air Canada is one company that appears to ignore how a customer experiences their various departments across different channels.

A small frustration, that could potentially be written off with no harm to the brand, is followed by another annoyance, and then another, and another, culminating in outright anger. From website errors while changing a flight booking, to being informed you have to PAY to book over the phone (Air Canada charges YOU to get help dealing with THEIR website errors; unless of course, you call web support first). Granted, the lady on the phone did tell me that there would be a charge. I was then referred to web support, for a long wait due to what I assume were understaffed phone lines. I was then asked to refer to data on a webpage that I could no longer access (since you had to navigate off the page to find the phone number for tech support, at which point the back button generates an error).

Throughout it all, the staff seemed unsympathetic and inconsiderate, but also a little jaded and sad, as though they knew there were problems, but felt powerless to doing anything about it. And then finally, to the end of the odyssey; an extra $55 charge.

My experience has been that most of the problems with Air Canada seems to be in their booking systems, rather than their in-flight services. If you’re looking for a case study in how NOT to treat your customers, this is the place to book a flight.

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    1. AK November 29th, 2006 11:53 am

      I have to say, I totally understand your grief on booking flights. It’s not just Air Canada, I have had many painful phone calls, website visits with Japanese companies, such as All Nippon Airways and Japan AirLine. The problem with airline booking is that it is way way way too bloated as a whole system. Too many ways of doing the same thing, too many options you APPARENTLY have, and twice as much rules about the things you cannot do. I was once told that to get my luggage transfered from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3 at Heathrow between my flights from Manchester to Heathrow to Narita, I would have to pay an additional £1500.

      What was even more evil though, was during my undergraduate degree, as part of the GUI course, they made us design a airline booking system. That is, with hindsight, pure evil, considering that the human race as a whole has yet to come up with a good design on such system. To add insult to injury, the three lecturers running the course, who were very respectable otherwise, could not agree on anything, let alone what a usable system should do.

      The airline booking system… the vein of my life too.

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