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Heading Home from Asia – Fog Delays

heading home

Foggy days and airline confusion made heading home from our Asian cruise challenging. Our biggest challenge was the Air Canada counter at Shanghai airport. 

We had quite a bit of fog effecting our cruises in the Yellow and East China seas. Fog is typical in the spring and occasionally causes ports to close. Our first taste of delay came at Inchon which cut short our stay in Seoul slightly.

But the worst experience came as fog closed the Shanghai port for nearly a day. Over 2,400 ships were backed up at sea, waiting for the port to reopen. Ours was one of them.

We had been scheduled to dock at 6:00 a.m. and debark at 7:00 a.m. Our flight back to Canada was set for 4:00 p.m. so we should have had enough time to clear customs and head to the airport. But at one o’clock the previous night, a call came to our cabin to let us know it was doubtful if we would even dock by noon.

Celebrity Cruises handled the situation well. They had a list of guest flight times and began to call us all in order with the bad news. They made Internet and satellite phone calls available so that we could try to reschedule our flights. Sigh! Not their fault. In hindsight I wish we had left more time between disembarkation and flying home, but we had been away for more than four weeks.

We were able to reschedule but faced a three delay delay before a seat opened up. Hence our second visit to Shanghai, which had not been planned. In the end, we docked at 2:00 p.m. and traveled to the hotel.

Heading Home – Air Canada Counter Nightmare

Three days later, we arrived at Shanghai Pudong Airport in plenty of time and waited for the Air Canada counter to open. But when we tried to check in, the counter staff said they had no record of our booking on the flight to Vancouver. They had our Vancouver-to-Calgary flight in the system, but not the Shanghai-to-Vancouver flight.

Rather than trying to fix the problem, Air Canada staff (representative and supervisor) told us to leave the line and “phone your agent.” In my view, these staff are only trained to do simple things but not to actually help customers or solve problems. Needless to say we were almost in tears at this point.

What’s more, they directed us to make calls at the Airport Business Center at the other end of the airport. Ironic, since there was a bank of telephones right across from the Air Canada counter. And calls from the business center cost a fortune. In the end, we activated cell phone roaming.

When we finally got through to Air Canada back home, the service rep found the clerical problem and fixed it within a minute, with apologies as it was their mistake. Back to the counter and this time we were able to check in.

With a bit of thought, Air Canada could definitely improve its service to include problem solving at foreign terminals. Especially when customers show up with confirmed flight documentation, like we did. They should be able to find and fix there own mistakes, regardless of country.

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