Stuck On A Plane Without A/C In August

September 16, 2010

in Delay/Cancellation Stories

The August before last I flew Air Canada from Toronto to Tokyo for work. I fly intercontinental quite often so I’m used to delays and minor problems but this trip was something else entirely.

Things started out bad from the start. While waiting to board I noticed that my designated boarding time came and went without comment, followed soon by the departure time. At this point I’m starting to wonder if I’ve got the wrong gate number, but no, everyone else is headed for Tokyo too so I sit back and wait.

After another 20 minutes they announce that there is a slight delay and it shouldn’t be too much longer. Okay fine, no problem. By the time we board the plane it’s 40 minutes past our scheduled departure time. They rush to get everyone seated and since it’s already a long 13 hour flight we’re all eager to get moving.

The flight was packed and it was hot – middle of summer hot. The cabin was stifling and the A/C didn’t seem to be working. After about 30 minutes the Pilot apologized over the intercom for the boarding delay. He explained that the A/C system needed to be re-charged before they could take off. Okay, cool, at least it’s fixed and we’ll be on our way right? Wrong.

The flight still had no A/C and after a few minutes the plane shut off completely. Ever been in a completely silent airplane before? It’s a really strange feeling. A few minutes later the power came back on. This happened two more times before the Pilot announced that the electrical system on the plane was completely buggered and they’d have to call in technicians to re-boot the entire system. This he says will take minimum of 1 hour. The cabin groans in unison as we are now over 2 hours delayed for take off.

The 1 hour fix turned into a little over 2 hours. The A/C came back on eventually, as did an in-flight movie, but they never once thought to let us leave the plane or offer any sort of compensation. No free snacks, nothing. They just walked around and handed out headphones so we could watch a movie.

Fast forward to 2 hours later and the Pilot comes back on the intercom. He announces that the plane’s computer is finally fixed and everything is in working order. The cabin cheers and everyone gets settled to take off. Then he delivers the bad news – “Because we have been sitting on the tarmac for so long, we have gone beyond our contracted flight hours. Two new pilots are on their way to relieve us and they should be here within 40 minutes.”

You could have heard a pin drop. Everyone on the flight was just about ready to tear out their hair at this point. They’d left us sitting there, going nowhere, for four hours. Unbelievable.

The new pilots board, do their slew of safety and system checks (which takes 30 minutes) and we finally start taxing down the runway (which took another 40 minutes).

The pilot made up some time in the air but our flight still arrived in Tokyo more than 3 hours late. There was no apology and no compensation was offered to anyone. I’ve learned my lesson. Avoid flying Air Canada at all costs.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Weasel September 17, 2010 at 3:22 pm

You should fly ANA or JAL. Man, if they leave the gate five minuets early they're ready to off themselves with a samurai sword for treating the PAX with such lack of honor. You don't want to know what they'll do for PAX if the onboard entertainment system fails.


Laura October 7, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Ugh, bad luck! I always have weird delays flying between the U.S. and Japan and it totally kills my vibe.

Better to have fresh pilots than overtired ones, though!


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