Thunderbirds are gone

The heat continued as we headed south to Anthem, about 45 minutes north of Phoenix and our flight home. We sought out things to do and places to eat in Anthem, but as the town only broke ground in 1999 and most of the paint was still wet. I had it in mind to revisit Thunderbird Park, there would be a few birds but most notably Costa’s Hummingbirds in the viewing area for the bit of the water they left for the birds. Water in the desert is naturally going to pull in the wildlife, at Thunderbird Park you can still see a small portion, the rest is behind upmarket housing and on the golf course, and so out of bounds.

Verdins were everywhere but hard to snap. This one was squawking at us constantly but then it was escorting its recently fledged brood. The Costa’s were there, flitting around quite a bit but always favouring one nicely flowering bush. Black-throated were in there too and I tried for a few photos when they briefly settled.

IMG_2430 (2)

We were done, our wild west trip was run and we were going to have a travel day to endure next, so we headed back to the hotel to prepare for dinner. Eating options were few, we reluctantly rejected the biker bar with nightly midget wrestling, we were all out of travelling leathers. We settled on a sports bar where we had our final eat-out of the trip, it was fine. The next day were going home.

Costa's M2 Costa's M1

Costa’s Hummingbird – cute.

And now the diatribe! We flew Air Canada and not stack-em-high airlines, paying scheduled prices plus a fee for seat selection and baggage. Air Canada have always been out first choice carrier, fly the flag and all that but, since booking and paying for the flights, they rebranded to something called Rouge. The plane seating had obviously been re-designed too and we were crammed in. I am just short of six feet tall and I had about one inch of knee space. Naturally the first thing the passenger in front of me did was to recline her seat and sleep more or less through the flight, not her fault, she was obviously no aircraft engineer.

The flight to Toronto was over four hours in duration but there were no screens or entertainment, UNLESS, you had a device that you had previously downloaded the Air Canada app to, then you could screen a movie, and also provided you’d remembered to fully charge your device, there were no power sockets. We found out that we could rent one of the ten iPads they carry, complete with app, for a further fee. We declined.

The flight crew were great, and you sensed that they were embarrassed by the cattle class offering from the new Rouge. This feeling was probably compounded when they had to don their new uniform trilby hats, making them all look like bookies. When did Air Canada become a cheap holiday charter where you get what you pay for?

At Dorval, or Pierre Trudeau if you like, we got to the baggage carousel at 9.20pm to find a sign advising us that it would take 15 minutes to get the luggage. At 10pm on the dot the baggage handlers left through the door next to the carousel, it was shift change and they were leaving our stuff for the next batch, I’d bet that this happens every day. By now the waiting time had been wound down to five minutes but we were all getting restless. At 10.10 the beeper went and bags started to arrive. I think that the management of Dorval should take a serious look at their commitment to customer service and ensure that the passengers and not their baggage handlers wishes come first, remember all those ‘airport improvement fees’ tacked onto your flight tickets?

The next day I went to the Air Canada web site and made a written complaint, both about the cattle class flight from Phoenix (the Toronto leg was fine) and asking them to use their influence at Dorval to make the point about the baggage delays. It’s been over a week now and their response will affect our choice of flight provider even to the point of our taking a more expensive ticket rather than risk another crappy flight. A week is long enough for them to deal with complaints, below is their reply…








One thought on “Thunderbirds are gone

  1. Problems with Air Canada, surely not. Hope you get a more useful response than we did a couple of years ago. After an 18 hour delay, we were offered $100 of our next flight with Air Canada. strangely we haven’t claimed it……..

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