Air Canada’s racket: This time, it’s baggage extortion

Air Canada’s racket: This time, it’s baggage extortion

Last week, Air Canada announced it would cut 2,000 employees. Based upon my experience this past weekend, those that remain are busy shaking down passengers for extra money. My wife and I made a quick trip to Calgary to visit family and hike up a mountain. We packed a single, large piece of luggage and hopped on a plane at Pearson without hassle or questioning. But when I tried to check the same piece of luggage in Calgary for the return flight, I was redirected to what was, for me anyway, a new step in the check-in process: the weigh-scale extortion station.

The bag, packed with the exact same contents as for the departure flight, weighed 59 pounds. But what passed muster in Toronto didn’t in Calgary: the attendant explained that the weight limit per bag was 50 pounds, and he would have to charge me $50 right there, on the spot, before he’d let my bag go through. They let it pass in Toronto, I said. They must have just missed it, he said. No, I said, I travel through Pearson regularly, and we always pack this way, and they’ve never raised the matter. I told him I thought it was deceitful of Air Canada to send me to Calgary with a 59-pound bag, then try to wring an extra 50 bucks out of me to get it home. I felt like I was trying to fly out of some Latin American backwater: “Grease my palm, hombre, or I’ll tie you up and you’ll miss your flight.”

I crossed my arms, stood there and said nothing. I wasn’t going to try to guess my way to a solution, and I was happy to tie up the rest of the check-in line until he came up with one. After three tense minutes, he eventually gave me one of those thick plastic bags, which I dumped the dirty laundry into and checked separately. Then he informed me that, starting July 15, Air Canada will be charging $25 for a second piece of luggage.

Meanwhile, once on the plane, I paid $5 for a pizza that, for roughly the same price, I can get in boxes of 10 from No Frills. These are all Fuel Surcharges by Other Names, and Air Canada is determined to charge them at every opportunity. Join the fun and post your Air Canada horror story below.

Air Canada cutting 2,000 jobs, trimming capacity [CBC]• Down-to-earth ways sought to cut airlines’ soaring costs [National Post]