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Tag Archives: Air Canada

Air Canada’s public relations blunder – what can leaders learn?

I’ll start by saying that usually I’m an Air Canada fan. Usually. In fact, I’ve even blogged about them in the past (See Good leaders listen to customers and employees and Good leaders respond to customer feedback). But last week’s major gaffe by one of their PR staffers, a senior one no less, has me shaking my head. In case you haven’t read or heard the story, here’s a short version.

LarryDogLarry, the 2-year-old Italian greyhound, was moving to Canada to join his new adopted family. Last week, while awaiting his delayed flight in San Francisco, a local staff member opened his cage to check on him, and the dog bolted. Sad as this is to an animal lover like me, this is not what has me disappointed with Air Canada. No, that came later. You see, a local CBS affiliate in California contacted Air Canada inquiring about the lost dog and received a response saying a ground team was doing its best to locate Larry. The reporter then emailed a follow-up request asking a few additional questions. Imagine her surprise when she received a response from Peter Fitzpatrick, Air Canada’s Manager of Corporate Communications: “I think I would just ignore, it is local news doing a story on a lost dog,” Fitzpatrick wrote. “Their entire government is shut down and about to default and this is how the US media spends its time.” Clearly, the email was intended for a co-worker, and Fitzpatrick accidentally hit “Reply” instead of “Forward”. Oops! Continue reading

Good leaders respond to customer feedback

Three months ago, I blogged about Air Canada and its new CEO, Calin Rovinescu.  Back then, I was cautiously optimistic; after two previous CEOs, Rovinescu was a welcome breath of fresh air.  Unlike his predecessors, he actually seemed interested in what his most loyal customers had to say.  With his senior management team, he met with groups of individual frequent fliers in cities across the country to get their feedback and input on how to create a better air travel product.  I was at such a meeting in Calgary in September and I was impressed to see that his team listened, asked questions, took notes, and pledged to turn things around both for disillusioned customers and a disconnected workforce.  Big news indeed for a company that has unfortunately developed a reputation of taking its customers for granted!  So, three months later … has Rovinescu been able to alter the negative perception of Air Canada that has plagued the minds of customers and employees for several years now? Continue reading

Good leaders listen to customers and employees

Generally speaking, Canadians love to hate Air Canada!  I fly them a lot, and I am well aware of my good fortune as most of my experiences have actually been positive.  Nevertheless, I can certainly understand why people get frustrated when flights are delayed, luggage is lost, and concerns and complaints either fall on deaf ears or are met with indifference.  Which is why recent actions by Air Canada’s new CEO Calin Rovinescu have caught my attention.  For the first time in recent history, a CEO at this organization actually seems interested in what customers and employees have to say.  Predecessors Montie Brewer and Robert Milton unfortunately created a culture in which both employees and customers felt both unimportant and unheard.  Not so with Calin Rovinescu. Continue reading