Canadian Passenger Rights Scandal...Reader Complaints...Jim's Deals of Day
Kudos to CanWest for their continuing coverage of what looks like scandalous behaviour on the part of the federal Tories here in Canada.
The news organization reported today that Transport Minister John Baird is denying any collusion with the major airlines to try to block a passenger bill of rights. Instead, and get this, Baird says he merely was "working constructively" with the industry.
Yeah, right. Canwest reports it obtained internal government documents that show Baird's office "privately pleaded with Canada's major airlines to step up their lobby campaign 'to stop this motion in its tracks,' even as the minister at the time, Lawrence Cannon, publicly supported it.
If it's true that a VERY senior minister was telling lobbyists what to do to try to stop a bill that would protect Canadians, it's an incredible story.
Newfoundland Liberal MP Gerry Byrne, who authored a motion last year calling on the government to protect air travellers' rights, is all over Baird on the issue.
"What is it, the lobbyists are running the transport department or is the transport department running the lobbyists? This collusion which is occurring between the government regulator and the airline companies must end," Byrne said.
Baird keeps saying he was merely working constructively with the airline industry (and how, John), but CanWest on Wednesday reported federal types met with airlines but not with consumer groups.
The NDP has asked the ethics commissioner to investigate. Sounds like it should start NOW.
Boy, we've got some crabby travellers in the GTA.
I recently asked readers to send me their travel complaints. I wasn't inundated, but I did get a slew of criticism about sloppy travellers, crying children, folks chewing with their mouths open (couldn't have been a Canadian airline; we don't get fed anymore).
Carry-on bags that are only slightly smaller than a Smart Car were a common complaint. "American Airlines said I had to check my small bag ($15 U.S.), and then many people boarded with bags twice the size of mine," one fellow from Blenheim wrote.
He also gets bugged by folks who don't turn off their "portable electronic devices" despite being told two, three or even four times. Or five.
"I don't think the plane will crash just because someone is on their Blackberry when we're landing, but, hey, there must be a reason for it and everyone should follow the rules."
Spoken like a true Canadian.
Then again, travel blogger Heather Poole was on Twitter today (you can find her under Heather_Poole; I'm at JByers11 if you're interested) and said she was on a flight with 90 passengers from New York to Dallas and that she counted a whopping 19 folks who hadn't turned off their electronic devices after it was time to flick the switch and stow their gear. Rather appalling.
Another reader wrote that she's never seen an airline representative actually check to see if a bag fits in that slot that says, "If your bag doesn't fit here, you have to check it." Which I guess means she wasn't on the guy from Blenheim's flight, eh?
Anyway, she says the overhead bins are full of bags that are too big.
"Someone came on my flight once with a laptop bag, a purse, a bag on wheels and two large shopping bags. So that's MY pet peeve about travelling - and the fact we have to pay for food and beverages on board flights. Four dollars for a cup of tea - unbelievable."
Canadian airlines at least give you coffee and tea for free, so I'll at least give them that. Porter has wine and beer, although I haven't had a chance to fly them yet.
There were a couple complaints, of course, about kids on planes. When our children were little, my wife always had the sense to bring along books and tapes and candies and treats and, when they were really small, a bottle for them to suck on when the plane changed altitudes so it would help their ears pop. It's amazing to me how many parents bring a two-year-old on board and expect them to amuse themselves, which normally leaves them to kick the seat in front of them.
Smarten up, parents! You can't help it if your child is sick, but at least think about entertaining them on a four-hour flight.
My favourite was a woman bothered by a guy who drank all night on a flight to Europe.
"When we were arriving in London, I said, 'I hope you are not driving (he wasn't fit)' but he said, 'Yes.' I had a need to get even. So I told him I couldn't believe what he had told me last night. He said, 'Oh, my God, what did I say?' I said, 'I'm sorry, I just cannot repeat what you said.' And I left the SOB hanging."
Ouch. I don't think I wanna mess with HER.
Okay, there probably weren't a LOT of tourists inconvenienced by the subway's pain-in-the-butt breakdown on Wednesday. But even a few is a bad thing. And you can bet word gets out when things like this happen.
Yes, they happen in other cities. But this is supposed to be New York run by the Swiss, as Peter Ustinov said, not New York run by the Keystone Kops.
There are a pair of escalators (one up and one down; hey, the TTC got THAT right!) in my subway station at Lawrence. One of them is disassembled every few months and left in heaps on the floor of the station, gathering dust and inconveniencing people for weeks and weeks and weeks at a time. They almost always have the sense to have the "up" escalator working, but even going DOWN five large flights of stairs can be hard on seniors in my neighborhood.
I understand the TTC isn't funded the way it should be. And maybe this wasn't their fault, directly. But who is this third party and what were they doing drilling or sawing away into a TTC site?
I will, however, give the TTC some credit. I stayed late at work (BROWNIE POINTS!) and waited for the mayhem to clear. I got to Bloor with everyone else around 8 pm. or so, I can't quite recall, and they said the train was out of service because of the accident and we should get a bus. It wasn't quite clear where the buses would be and the TTC announcer failed to apologize for the inconvenience, which was bad form.
I got to the top of the stairs at Bloor and asked a uniformed TTC guy if I needed a transfer. He told me he had just received word the trains were up and running again and that I should go back to the platform. Sure enough, the next train was in service and I went on my merry way; hours earlier than the TTC had first predicted.
Funny, but when I looked over at the southbound platform at Bloor who did I see? None other than Steve Munro, the long-time community fighter for better TTC service!
So all's well that ends well, I guess. Still, there's talk that the G20 slated for Muskoka will be moved to Toronto, the feeling being that the G8 is fine for Deerhurst and all that but that a huge summit like the G20 needs a bigger home. Makes sense, and it could be good p.r. for Toronto. As long as they don't try to get Putin or Obama on the subway, that is.
JIM'S DEALS OF THE DAY
Five candles are on the cake at
Free room nights, free upgrades – the getaways are good at Design Hotels this winter. More than 50 properties are taking part in the Seasonal Spaces promotion, offering three room nights for the price of two, or a guaranteed upgrade to the largest and best-designed room or suite, for stays Nov. 27, 2009 through March 28, 2010. Not surprisingly, a company called Design Hotels has some pretty cool properties, including the rocker-chic Sanctum Soho Hotel in London, England, and in Mexico’s Playa del Carmen, a property called Basico where the décor is a mix of ‘found objects, new design and local culture’. Some hotels are taking part in the three-for-two deal, others in the upgrade deal, and there are separate web pages for both. See www.designhotels.com/seasonalspaces.