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The air travel grievance guru

When Air Canada first took flight in 1937, the sky was the limit for the country's new national airline. Originally known as Trans-Canada Airlines, the fledgling company enjoyed a virtual monopoly in the skies. But the post-Second World War economic boom ushered in a new Canadian jet set, eager to take advantage of new airlines that offered cheaper fares. In the decades since, the embattled airline would have to endure runaway inflation, a fuel crisis, a controversial merger, and a near-fatal brush with bankruptcy before its fortunes would rise again.

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A month before he officially takes office, complaints commissioner Bruce Hood has already received 250 grievances -- about flight cancellations, strikes and misconnections. Half the complaints are directed at Air Canada, but in this CBC Television clip a company executive says "that's an interesting point when we are 80 per cent of the market."
Air Canada is taking the grievances seriously. It has hired 350 employees to direct the complaints. 
• Bruce Hood used to work as a National Hockey League referee and once owned a travel agency. When Hood heard about the new commissioner's job, he contacted Bob Kilger, another former referee who had become a Parliamentary whip.
• Soon after, he was appointed head of the federal government's new Air Travel Complaints Commissioner's office by Transport Minister David Collenette. His job was to handle complaints since the merger of Air Canada and Canadian Airlines.

• A 2000 Maclean's article about the new commissioner titled "Jobs you don't want" referred to Hood as the "official lightning rod for disgruntled airline passengers."
• Hood said in the same article that, as commissioner, he has no real power but would do his best to bully airlines into "improving their standards."
• In 2000, company spokesperson Laura Cooke said Air Canada does not disclose how many complaints it gets.

• In 2001, flight delays, bad service and lost luggage were the most common complaints.
• In 2003, Air Canada's website said the airline has been ranked one of the world's safest in an independent study of 500 companies.
Medium: Television
Program: Canada Now
Broadcast Date: Aug. 22, 2000
Guest(s): Laura Cooke, Bruce Hood
Host: Gloria Macarenko
Reporter: Susan Bonner
Duration: 3:11

Last updated: February 20, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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