Flair Airlines, one of Canada’s ultra-low-cost carriers, has been in the headlines recently, but for all the wrong reasons. Recently, data from the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) show that Flair has the highest number of complaints per 100 flights of all Canadian carriers.
In the wake of this, Flair Airlines released a statement promising to serve its customers better.
Flair Airlines Promises to Do Better
One of the measures Flair is taking to improve its customer service is debuting a customer service team based in Montreal. The specialized team is reported to be tasked primarily with the following:
- Quickly addressing complex customer concerns, especially with irregular operations
- Handling complaints and inquiries lodged with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) and the US Department of Transportation (DOT)
- Addressing feedback submitted to the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Actively gathering feedback from customers to improve service quality
The press release also states that the Montreal-based team has been working since January 2023. Therefore, it could be surmised that the announcement was made in response to the negative press Flair has been receiving as of late.
Just last week, data from the Canadian Transportation Agency revealed that Flair was the subject of the most passenger complaints amongst Canadian carriers. In the first quarter of 2023, Flair received 20.9 complaints for every 100 flights, compared to 10.7 for WestJet and 5.8 for Air Canada.
In the same time period, Flair’s average number of complaints per 100 flights was well above Lynx Air, which had just 5.2 complaints per 100 flights, and slightly above Swoop, which had 16 complaints per 100 flights.
It remains to be seen if the implementation of a customer service team will reduce the number of complaints filed with the CTA or improve the customer experience. The CTA has a soaring backlog of complaints to get through, which can take up to 18 months or more to resolve.
Not a Great Track Record
Flair’s promise to quickly address customer concerns in the event of irregular operations is something that it should have been doing anyway.
When a passenger’s itinerary is changed through no fault of their own, the very least an airline can do is move them to the next available flight, or better yet, invest in self-serve technology to reduce the need for tracking down a human in the first place.
It can be very frustrating to be left stranded by an airline with little means of communication or resolution in sight, which is what passengers have been sharing through social media channels.
However, it’s worth noting that the number of complaints received isn’t necessarily representative of how often Flair has actually gone against the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR). For that, we must look to other figures.
So far in 2023, the CTA has levied a number of fines against Flair for failing to abide by the APPR, including the following enforcement actions:
- $82,500 for damaging a passenger’s electric wheelchair and failing to provide a suitable replacement upon arrival, and not offering to repair it
- $39,000 for 40 violations of failing to compensate passengers appropriately for delays of nine hours or more
- $2,500 for not providing a reason for a delay by way of an audible announcement
- $2,500 for not listing some conditions of the APPR on a digital marketing platform
Keep in mind that these fines were levied for complaints in the past, since the CTA’s backlog is so long. Therefore, it’s likely that there are still more to come.
Some passengers are skipping the long wait with the CTA and taking Flair to small claims court to address their complaints. Recently, a passenger from British Columbia sued Flair for compensation and won through small claims court, as the court judged against Flair’s reasoning of a technical glitch that caused the man’s denied boarding case.
The case is just one of eight tried with the BC Civil Resolution Tribunal so far this year. Of these, five went uncontested by the airline, and therefore resulted to default judgments in favour of passengers.
Of course, these are in addition to the barrage of informal complaints made against Flair on social media. Through Facebook groups focused on air passenger rights and complaints, passengers have been complaining about the airline’s sudden cancellations, lost baggage, and refusal to compensate passengers, among others – all the while not having adequate customer service teams available to address their concerns.
If Flair is to live up to its promises, it appears that it has a long way to go.
Flair Airlines has announced that it is taking direct measures to improve customer experience. The crux of this is the formation of a customer service team based in Montreal, who will be tasked with addressing complaints, assisting passengers during irregular operations, and complying with passenger rights.
In the meantime, passengers will have to wait for their complaints to be resolved either through the CTA’s massive backlog or by taking the airline to small claims court.
We’ll be keeping an eye on the CTA’s enforcement actions, as well as any court decisions, to see if the airline is actually going to live up to this promise.
At the same time, Flair’s commitment to improve its customer service is at the very least a step in the right direction. Hopefully, Flair makes good of its promise, and passengers receive the satisfactory treatment they deserve.