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Customer Service - Let's See

Air Canada is my country's national airline with, many feel, an attitude problem. I nearly always fly Air Canada. Not because I like it, although in many respects it is no different in treating passengers like irritants than other commercial airlines these days. I fly Air Canada because I collect mileage points for each trip. So, I usually choose Air Canada for business trips . . . about 15 flight segments, as they call it, so far this year.

The fact that I nearly always choose an Air Canada flight makes no difference to the airline or its customer service and retention policies. I'm never "upgraded" as I sometimes am in hotels. They offer no perquisites; no special recognition gifts; not even a slightly better meal nor the occasional free glass of wine.

But a real test of its customer service is now underway. On a recent flight to London I was served a gluten free meal, as I must because of an intolerance to wheat, rye, oats and barley (Celiac Disease for those medically minded). The gluten free meal is usually more tasteless than even regular airline food, but on a seven hour flight you need something to calm the grumbling.

The gluten free meal on this flight was the ubiquitous dry chicken on a bed of PASTA. Of course, I can't eat pasta as you know it. So I assumed this was rice or corn pasta, which I know are both available. The meal was plainly labelled gluten free.

NOT. Within one hour of eating it I threw up three times. The flight attendant told me to fill out the airline's standard complaint form (not offering me anything by way of compensation), which I did and mailed it on my return. (You have to pay for postage!) . . . Now I wait!

By the way, the meal on the return flight was super. It even included a real dessert (instead of the usual tiny, and immeasurably boring, fruit cup) some delicious dense rice bread and gluten free chocolates. I was the envy of my seat mates.

Oh yes . . . that return flight was on Lufthansa from Frankfurt.

Discovering Folon . . . Again

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