Air France Tickets: A Perfect Gift for Your Enemies


While I recently claimed I would never fly Air France again, I made this bold statement without thinking about my return journey. I had already paid for a round trip and frankly I did not value my peace of mind as much as I did the $1200 I would have to pay for a new ticket on an alternate airline.

Bracing myself for a long and tiresome journey comprised of 3 flights, I walked up to the self check-in machine. Self check-in machines never work for me. Before you write me off as an idiot who does not know how to use such a machine, I would like to point out that airline staff do not fare any better when they try to help me out. I’ve seen every message from ‘boarding pass will not be printed’ to ‘passport invalid’.

I digress. Self check-in once again did not work for me on my WestJet flight (this partner airline of Air France was responsible for getting me to Montreal so I could catch my connecting Air France flights). When I spoke to the attendant, she said it was probably because I had connecting flights and that I should just get in line. When I finally reached the front of the line the conversation went a little differently than expected.

“You’re lucky your flight was delayed. Otherwise you would have been too late for check in”
“Yikes. Well I’m glad you can check me in. Can you check me in all the way to Dubai?”
“I’m sorry I don’t see you listed so I can’t put you on this flight. Have a nice day! NEXT PLEASE”
“What do you mean? If I don’t get this flight I will miss my connection from Montreal”
“You’ll have to discuss this with Air France. It’s their responsibility to get you to Dubai. NEXT PLEASE”

I ran to the Air France counter, inconveniently located at other end of the airport. Running through a crowded airport with a heavy suitcase in tow is not an activity I recommend. It took a little while but the staff finally figured out that they had mixed up my first and last name and that’s why WestJet couldn’t find my booking. So with this new information, I ran back to the other end of the airport with my heavy suitcase and explained the situation to the same WestJet gentleman.

“Well you’re lucky your flight got delayed a second time or I wouldn’t have been able to check you in”
“Since I can’t correct your information on your Air France flights I can only check you in up to Montreal so you will need to check in again”

So I made it to Montreal, grabbed my bag and walked up to the Air France counter exactly 5 minutes before check-in was scheduled to close.

“So your final destination is Paris?”
“Dubai actually”
“You called and cancelled the final leg of your journey”
“I did no such thing. I don’t even like Paris!”
“Well your flight to Dubai is not in our system. Are you sure you didn’t cancel it?”
“I think I would remember doing something like that”

After what felt like eternity, an Air France employee spoke to me in English, solved the problem and told me to check in. Of course check-in was closed by now. With a little effort, they managed to override the system and check me in. I tried my luck for an upgrade to business class but was told it was full. By the time I arrived at my gate it was last call and I was one of the final few to board. As I stepped on board I noticed that business class was actually far from full but still took my economy class seat near 3 screaming babies.

Since I had 4 seats to myself I actually felt happy about not being in business class. My happiness lasted all of 3 minutes. Air France crew told the lady with the loudest baby that she could have the seats next to me. In attempt to have at least a little extra space, I placed my feet on the seat next to me. This worked well for a few minutes. Then the mother of the loud baby told me she just wanted to place her child there for a moment but she was not taking the seat. By that she actually meant she was leaving her child there for the next 7 hours while she occupied the other 2 seats.

About 2 days later I received a customer feedback survey email from Air France. I could either do the survey in French or Arabic, both languages I do not speak. Well played, Air France. Well played.