The list of complaints against airlines can be endless, including: rude staff, poor communication, lost baggage, flight disruptions, overbooking, etc. Air Canada has taken the brunt of these complaints, as explained in a news article.
Seems like things have gotten so bad that the idea of a Bill of Rights for airline passengers has been tossed around. To me, travelling by air is a very complicated procedure. There are so many factors to take into consideration, including safety of the plane, safety of the passengers, safety at the boarder crossing, on time arrival and departure, etc. The whole process requires a very high level of production. I do not want to side with the airlines necessarily, but I do understand that there are so many factors to keep in mind.
For example, the maintenance and technician team have to do their best to ensure the safety of the plane. Pilots have their hands full flying the plane. The boarder agents can be grumpy, but they also need to ensure the safety of the country with proper screening. Basically everyone needs to be an expert at their job to ensure everything runs smoothly.
In terms of the customers service agents, rarely do we call them experts at their job. For them to be experts, they need to satisfy the customers. Yes, there are difficult customers, but that’s really the nature of the business. If an employee is unhappy being a customer service agent, then maybe they need to consider another job that suits their personality more. In terms of not taking their jobs seriously, I see this issue more on the employer rather than the employee.
It is up to the employer to find the most qualified people to perform the jobs. Customers can do their best to complain to the employer about incompetence with the employees, but if the employer does not want to make changes, then the best way to protest against the business is to stop using their services.
There are alternatives. Even though we may think that a company like Air Canada has monopoly, alternatives and competition can be created by the consumers. For example, hypothetically speaking, if everyone decided not to fly on any Air Canada flights for an entire year, by using alternatives such as Air North, WestJet or Porter within Canada, and use all international airlines outside of Canada, then Air Canada will either have to get their act together or fold as a company. Basically the alternatives exist and it is possible to run Air Canada out of business.
In short, my top two suggestions to deal with airlines are either to complain directly to the employer or to avoid using their services all-together. For me personally, the airline that I would never fly on again is Air Transat. For Air Canada, I have yet to encounter a large enough issue, but I would not hesitate to go with the competition if the situation warrants it.