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I've had an extremely bad experience with Air Canada that's eerily consistent with this article. Upgrade to business at the ticket counter, assigned seats, and then a red light and a sad noise from the ticket machine when I tried to board. Then a torrent of excuses, blame shifting, and rude behavior. This really soured me on Air Canada.

As a Canadian who flies a lot, Air Canada has absolutely the worst customer service. They make the “crappy” American carriers (United, etc) seem luxurious by comparison.

I remember one time connecting in to Vancouver and asking if I could could jump on the earlier flight rather than waiting 3 hours. Done this multiple times with US carriers if there is room. What do they care if the seat would have been empty otherwise?

I was informed by the AC agent that there would be a $175 fee for the ticket change. Plenty of other examples of rigidly following the rules even though it cost them nothing.

Probably you made the mistake of saying the word "change". If you want to change your ticket, i.e. get a guaranteed seat on a different flight, that costs money.

If you had asked to standby for the earlier flight, you would almost certainly have been told "ok we've put you on the list; check at the gate" with no charge.

This used to work in the past in the US. But last 5 years or so, every single time I've asked this with major carriers in the US, I've been quoted similarly high change fees as well.

Did you use the word 'change' or 'standby'?

They have a point, I think a United now charges $75 just to go on standby for an earlier flight.


Good point. I'll keep that in mind the next time!

I think that's more of a US versus the rest of the world thing. You can't do that anywhere in Europe with any carrier either without incurring change fees. Standby and same day changes is not really a thing outside of the US.

That's not true. I've had KLM put me on an earlier flight due to issues at Heathrow before. It's all about your airline. (Hint: Lufthansa = everything is your fault.. even their screw ups)

Air Canada did that for me once for free.

It might depend on how (over)sold the flights are. If your original flight is oversold and the other one is not, it seems like a win-win situation.

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