When Air Canada Destroys Your Bike

Words Cam McRae
Date Jun 18, 2015

Since we published this story, Air Canada has done an about face and the company will now pay the cost of repairs to Jared’s bike. More on that here.


 

Have you ever traveled with your bike? If you have you may have felt that churn in your stomach as you await your beloved machine at the baggage carousel. Jared Walker knows it better than most. Recently he arrived to discover that his bike and his case had been badly damaged on an Air Canada flight. I’ll let him tell the rest.

before

The before shot. Nothing but the best on this build. Replacement cost is over $10g.

NSMB – Was your bike new? Can you tell me a little about it? Looks like an amazing build.

Jared – Very new! Pretty much my dream bike;  2015 Intense Carbine 29. Fox 36 Talas 160, Fox Float X, Sram XX1 Crank/Cassette/Derailleur/Shifter, Easton Carbon Haven Wheels, Easton Haven 35 carbon bar and Haven 35 stem, Fox DOSS post, Selle Italia Saddle and Sram Guide ultimate brakes.

nsmb – Can you give me a little background on how this happened? Where were you coming from or going to?

Jared – I was on my way back from a business trip flying from San Francisco to Vancouver. I work in the cycling industry and our sales meeting typically includes some play time on a bike. When I arrived back in Vancouver I went to the oversized baggage carousel to pick up my bike and when it arrived it was very obvious that it was absolutely totalled. The bike bag was ripped wide open and I could already see that my carbon wheel was destroyed.

evoc

It’s pretty clear the news won’t isn’t good at this point. Jared’s bag was undamaged before this.

Do you fly often with your bike?

Funny enough this was my first experience flying with my bike. Ouch.

wheels

The front hub has been ground down half an inch and the rear rim was destroyed. These wheels retail for over $2000.

Have you ever had a problem with Air Canada before?

I’ve actually been a long time loyal Air Canada customer. I fly for work at least 5 times a year, and up until this situation I haven’t had any major issues.

So you went to claim your bike. Can you describe what happened then?

The Damage was very obvious when it rolled out on the carousel, and as you can imagine I was devastated and shocked. I immediately walked my bag and bike directly to the Baggage service counter and started a file right then and there.

rim

It would be tough to pass this off as ‘just riding along’ damage, but Air Canada tried to blame Jared’s Evoc travel case.

What did they tell you? How was your experience as a customer?

The agents that assisted me with the file were very helpful and sympathetic. They explained that I would need to make a claim with Air Canada’s claim department through the online form and unfortunately could not give any further information regarding the claim process.

Can you describe the damage to your bike in detail?

Both wheels are destroyed. One was completely crushed and the other had a 1/2″ of metal ground off the hub and a 1/4″ of the carbon ground off the rim . The rear triangle is completely crushed. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but what was a 142mm spacing is now about 100mm. The upper and lower linkage have been bent and both brake rotors are toast. The carbon crank and derailleur were also affected. Damage at retail would be in the range of $6000.

How did you react?

At this point I just wanted to get home after a long day of travel and start the process with the claims department. I really believed this was an open and shut case. I checked in an undamaged high end mountain bike in a padded bike specific bag and paid the additional handling fees required and it arrived completely destroyed. It was obvious to me and every person who saw the damage that it could only happen when the bagged is dragged for an extended length of time and ultimately run over.

reart2

If you can get splinters from your seat stay there may be a problem with your rear triangle.

And you have continued to follow-up with them? How did that evolve.

I immediately filled out the online contact form and sent pictures of the damage. I didn’t hear back for a few days, so I called multiple times before getting an email back. The first email I received was polite, simple and to the point. My claim was not accepted. I emailed right back and asked to speak with an agent. I believed the damage was outside of what could be deemed normal wear and tear and wanted them to re-look at my claim. The 2nd response was just as direct….the “damages results from “the inherent defect, quality or vice of the baggage”, and as such Air Canada will not reconsider your claim”. Claim refused.

And eventually you went to social media – and the response has been phenomenal. It sounds like you may have heard back from Air Canada at that point? What did they say?

Yes, I went to social media hoping I’d be able to warn other cyclist and travelers of the very limited liability Air Canada has when it comes to your baggage and I of course I hoped someone at Air Canada would hear about this situation and step up knowing it was wrong.

I’ve been blown away at the support and generosity from the bike community and general public.I’ve literally had people from all around the world contact me to offer support and advice, including advice from several Air Canada employees. I’m very thankful that the general community took the time to let the world and most importantly Air Canada know that this was wrong, plain and simple.

Less than 12hrs later Air Canada contacted me to ask for additional information and to let me know they had re-opened my claim. They have since offered some basic compensation, unfortunately not sufficient to cover the cost of the repairs. We’re still in discussion at this point.

evoc2

I don’t think that’ll buff out.

What would you like to see Air Canada do?

I really just want to have my bike retuned to the condition it was prior to the damage it received while in their care.

Have they tried to explain the damage at all?

Only in the last email I received. Here’s what they had to say… “Our staff endeavours to handle all our passengers’ baggage carefully, while loading and off-loading baggage. However, a bag’s journey through a baggage system can be harsh and hazardous, with mechanical arms pushing baggage through the system and carousels dropping baggage onto chutes, and unfortunately, baggage may sustain damage on occasions.”

I don’t buy it. What would it take to grind a 1/2” of metal off a hub on one side of the bag and crush a carbon rim and rear triangle on the other side of the bag? My feeling is the bag was dragged and run over.

Do you have advice for people traveling with bikes?

Private or good home Insurance can’t hurt. I’ve since spoken with my home insurance company and I do have some coverage, but they only cover up to $1500, which is great, but for many of us that really won’t cover much on a high end build. I’ve since found a few insurance companies that offer better bicycle coverage and will be certainly looking into that in the very near future.

In terms of bike transportation, I’d still have no problem recommending the Evoc Bike bag. It was easy to use and I believe outside of dragging it under a track it will do the job 999 out of 1000 times with no damage to report.

happier times

Hopefully Air Canada will step up and Jared will get his Intense back out on Squamish trails like this one.

Anything else you’d like to add?

A huge thanks for all the support and advice from the public. I’m hopeful Air Canada will do the right thing.


Will this change your approach to traveling with your bike?

Trending on NSMB

Comments

zomb2010
0
ZOMb2010 .  - Dec. 21, 2016, 10:57 a.m.

This sucks for the owners …but looking at this bike ..and it is super neat looking …why would a person not invest in a hard bike case??? I believe this would be the only way to go since the idiots at most Airlines don't give a crap about loading and unloading baggage from planes !!
..I know this is after the fact ..but maybe something to think about. Going forward …Hope you get full compensation from Air Canada …

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alexz
0
AlexZ  - June 29, 2016, 11:41 a.m.

I could use a bit of advice please, as I am in a similar situation.

I came back about 3 weeks ago from my first tour. I wen't from Ventura California, to Grand Canyon and then to Phoenix, on a recumbent trike with a trailer. It was the best trip I had done in my life and I couldn't wait to go on my next.

I flew back with Air Canada, since I am originally from Toronto. Upon picking up my bike, I noticed it was wobbling as I pulled it with my baggage. The front wheel was very warped (which was just the noticeable damage at the time, it will turn out the bike is heavily damaged from a large drop). I made a claim at the airport and they gave me a reference number.
Fast forward to 3 weeks later. I have called over half a dozen times to the claims department to see if they got the estimate from the bike shop. They keep saying is they dont know if they received my fax, as their department has not received it from another department. I have spoken to 3 supervisors who are unable to do anything. I requested two manager callbacks who never called me back.

My bike has just been sitting here, during the 2 months of Canadian summer where I wish I was riding it, and I have no clue what to do, beyond pay out of my own pocket for the almost $1k in damages to the bike (The repair shop said the bike looked like it was dropped from fairly high up and has many of its parts damaged as well as the frame being bent in some parts).
Any ideas? I have tried calling other departments in Air Canada, it seems like a dead end with a company that has no concern with customer convenience.

At this point I am just trying to determine if they even received my fax, since I haven't got a confirmation from anyone.

I posted this on Facebook and Air Canada responded in a private message with after publicly asking for my claim #:

Hello Alexander,

Thank you for the claim number. Kindly note that our Baggage Claim team can take from 4-6 weeks to reply back. While we understand that your item cannot be used at this time, we apologize for the inconvenience caused by the whole situation. We appreciate your ongoing patience as our colleagues will get to your file in due time.

Regards,

Air Canada Social Media /cm

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oopsmarkca
0
Oopsmark.ca  - Jan. 8, 2016, 7:23 a.m.

I'm here in Argentina for a bike tour and my bike has been lost for over a week with no help for Air Canada or Tam Airlines. We're getting a lot of support on social media from a lost baggage poster though. Hopefully that will help.https://www.facebook.com/OopsmarkMTL/photos/a.435903826456286.98076.122714881108517/990802497633080/?type=3&comment_id=991209097592420&notif_t=photo_comment

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themzx124
0
TheMzx124  - July 30, 2015, 5:36 p.m.

Man, my stomach turned when I saw those pictures of the mangled bike - I'm glad you're getting compensated for the loss at last. Just returned from Europe - shipped my bike there and back with Lufthansa in a cardboard bike box from LBS - bike and box were pristine after both trips (one transfer each time), not even a dent or rip in the box. I guess it all comes to how much the employees/tarmac people care about their cargo (or I just had some dumb luck). LH did not even charge me for the bike, took it as a piece of luggage (had only one suitcase). Hope your bike is OK now since it's been a month…

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sarah-kan
0
Sarah Kan  - June 19, 2015, 1:57 p.m.

I you like to know what are the insurance companies that offers a higher bike claim (+1500). Thanks

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - June 19, 2015, 10:39 a.m.

We have a good news update to this story

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pav
0
PAV  - June 19, 2015, 3:23 a.m.

I had the same problem with a rigid box. Box was broken as my carbon frame inside… I went trough all the same irresponsive communications with AC. Fortunately, I had personal insurances and I made them a claim. They told me that AC is liable for the damages without limit (even if the specify in their ticket a maximum amount covered). My insurance company sent a legal claim to AC. AC Canada finally covered all the damages: new frame and new box (more than 2500$). I hope that may help.

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extraspecialandbitter
0
ExtraSpecialandBitter  - June 18, 2015, 11:18 p.m.

Check out Cycling BCs insurance. Has theft and travel insurance up to $10 grand.

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JulieT
0
ashroadadam1 .  - June 18, 2015, 3:55 p.m.

Sue them. Take them to court and teach them some fking humility. Air Canada is a spoiled and arrogant organization, fattened and jaded by Government subsidies. There are many good people working there, but the ones that call the shots are a bunch of asoles. We've all seen the videos of AC employees heaving bags 20 feet into the cart, yet they continue to pretend that their handling system is not a problem. What a joke.

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naveed-nasir
0
Naveed Nasir  - June 18, 2015, 2:29 p.m.

Just think this is a dreadful experience but what comes out of it is how strong the Mtb community is. Companies waiting for a social media backlash before acting properly proves to me that social media is a form of metaphorical litigation for the ordinary citizen.

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its-a-fish
0
it's a fish  - June 18, 2015, 2:18 p.m.

I'm heading to France this year on Air Canada with my bike. I hope it doesn't get squished.

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mrfrosty
0
Dana Bourgeois  - June 18, 2015, 10:46 a.m.

Wow! I've sold those bags before, and they are fairly strong. That being said, they are not a hard structure like the serfas hard case. Yes, it's ugly and cannot be packed down into the little sheds we call home in Vancouver, but they do protect the bikes that costs more then some of our cars. Obsession bikes rents them out for a ridiculously affordable fee. Good luck!

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kain0m
0
kain0m  - June 18, 2015, 9:52 a.m.

"Oh we're sorry, we have no problem charging you 150$ for transporting a bicycle, but we will only cover 1500$ in damage"
Sorry guys, but this is clear evidence of shoddy handling, not accidental damage from some rough machines. Air Canada should step up and replace this bike pronto, no matter what their policies are.

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trisdan
0
Trisdan  - June 18, 2015, 9:45 a.m.

I would assume that it did in fact get run over. If you look at the picture you will see the types of carts air canada uses, no curtains or sides on them. Also if you look really close there is a pair of skis dragging under the wheels of the cart

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rugbyred
0
Eric Van Sickle  - June 18, 2015, 10:26 a.m.

I'm an AC employee and I am at work right now. The photos have been shown to multiple employees who deal with baggage and each one of them all had the same response without me prompting them- "that bag must have fallen out of a tub, been dragged for a while and then run over".
It could have happened at your departure station or upon arrival but I would ask AC to have a look at the video of your arrival to see what state the bag was in when is was offloaded in Vancouver.
I am not surprised how you are being treated as they treat their employees with even less respect.
Jared, please make sure other bike websites get hold of the story and try contacting your local radio and television stations. Nothing like a public shaming to make someone do the correct thing to a customer.
Red

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - June 18, 2015, 11:04 a.m.

Jared was on CBC here in Vancouver this morning in fact.

Thanks for your insight on this.

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air-canada
0
Air Canada  - June 18, 2015, 9:36 a.m.

Air Canada has been in contact with the customer and is compensating him to the maximum amount of liability. Customers shipping bicycles should consult our website, and, although we take care in handling baggage, be certain to have adequate insurance.

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kain0m
0
kain0m  - June 18, 2015, 10 a.m.

So there is your terms and conditions, but then there is common sense. This piece of baggage was severely damaged, in a way that most certainly could not be explained by some tough baggage sorting machinery. A good company would go out of their way to compensate instead of creating a massive PR desaster… Telling your customer his baggage was severely damaged due to improper packaging, where your customer used a top-of-the-line suitcase, specifically designed for handling bicycles in air travel, is just the icing on the cake.

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - June 18, 2015, 10:26 a.m.

Negligence should trump any limits to liability. Particularly considering you weren't doing anything until the publicity got bad.

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rvoi
0
rvoi  - June 18, 2015, 11:45 a.m.

The applicable term is GROSS NEGLIGENCE in this case

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0
t.odd  - June 18, 2015, 10:51 a.m.

you have no qualms charging people outrageous baggage fees, and then conveniently absolve yourself of any responsibility for ensuring said baggage arrives at the destination undamaged and intact. Shame on your shitty company and your shitty policies. Own up, now.

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steve-reidles-reid
0
Steve 'Reidles' Reid  - June 18, 2015, 11:24 a.m.

You were in contact with the customer as soon as he opened the claim! The fact that you told him to get lost and then re-opened the case after this horrible publicity just shows you are incompetent, greedy AND spineless. Write him a cheque and make this go away if you have any sense whatsoever. Terrible business sense, terrible customer service. Embarrassment of a national carrier.

At this point I'd suggest the few thousands you'll need to spend on sorting him out with a new bike far outstrips the negative publicity this is generating on a daily basis (have you seen your facebook feed? it's pretty shocking)

Paying up doesn't absolve you of your heinous actions up to this point but it will diffuse this story, which is something you could, and should, have done at the start.

Lesson take home? In this day and age you can't get away with terrible customer service failures and expect them to just go away. Run your business properly and this could have been avoided.

Oh, and p.s. If you can't safely transport goods maybe you shouldn't charge $100s to try?? I don't pay you to 'try' and get me and my stuff places, I pay you to succeed.

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rugbyred
0
Eric Van Sickle  - June 18, 2015, 12:12 p.m.

There is no way that the machinery for sorting bags or pushing the bag down the baggage chute could have cause this as the "oversized" bike case would not or should not have gone on the baggage belt. If done properly, which is evident it was not, the bag should have had an almost direct line to an employee who would have brought it to where it needed to go in the baggage room to then be brought safely to the plane.

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onlooker
0
Onlooker  - June 18, 2015, 12:43 p.m.

I wonder what the "maximum liability" amount is? Sounds like a way for a spokesperson to say we gave him some but not all the damages.

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miked
0
Miked  - June 18, 2015, 2:24 p.m.

eat a dick Air Canada. lets get the national media spotlight on how you treated this customer.

Here's a good place to send emails: media@aircanada.ca

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D_C_
0
DMVancouver  - June 18, 2015, 2:47 p.m.

@aircanadasocialmedia:disqus - did you really think posting this canned response was a good way to put out this fire?

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dkl
0
Daniel Louie  - June 18, 2015, 3:03 p.m.

I'm a proud Canadian and choose to travel a lot (over a dozen flights a year) with Air Canada for the majority of my domestic and international flights. I have always tried to defend you as a corporation when people criticize you for the quality of your service. Friends of mine are pilots for you and I believe that Air Canada is a top carrier in terms of aviation safety. But this example and my past experiences with you with regards to canceled flights, broken luggage, broken surf boards, mishandled pets on planes makes me ashamed that you are our national carrier at times. In the past years, you as a national carrier have been losing out to other smaller carriers. Not because their flights are cheaper, but because they simply treat customers better. They treat my dog better when we travel, they treat my luggage better, they treat me as a customer better. Please give us something to be proud of again in you.

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JulieT
0
ashroadadam1 .  - June 18, 2015, 3:56 p.m.

Your are so full of it. YOU ARE THE ONE that need adequate insurance, to cover the costs of random negligence among your employees that you would rather cover up with bulls**t liability language than properly address. Get with it and serve your freaking customers instead of making excuses.

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winky
0
Winky  - June 18, 2015, 8:08 p.m.

The problem with "insurance as the answer" is that the insurance company can do nothing manage the risk. They just price it. Air Canada are the ones who can physically prevent the damage and they should therefore bear the real risk. Liability limits are irrelevant. That's just legal bullshit. If you are entrusted with the care of our bicycles (or other things) you should be held accountable for exercising due care, regardless of the "insurance" circumstances. It's your fault. It is all on you. Compensate your customer accordingly, regardless of your self-prescribed "limits". If insurance comes into it at all, it should be Air Canada's insurance that is relevant here. This gives you motivation to stop fucking-up our gear - you know, to get lower premiums.

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Captain-Snappy
0
Merwinn  - June 18, 2015, 9:01 a.m.

AC luggage monkeys

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Gruffalo
0
Gruffalo  - June 18, 2015, 8:55 a.m.

Seems AC's public relations policy is to deny all responsibility of every claim until social media shames them to do otherwise. There's no way the bag is to blame or the damage is typical of any air transport. That bag was jammed somewhere in their handling system and had a conveyor running over it for a long time before it was cleared.

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Captain-Snappy
0
Merwinn  - June 18, 2015, 9 a.m.

Keeps their premiums down.

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lusenator
0
Lusenator  - June 18, 2015, 8:41 a.m.

I traveled Europe with the same bag (same color too!) for 2 months. I went on multiple plane rides, stuffed it inbetween seat gaps in trains, a bus driver even put it on its side with other luggage on top for a 7 hour drive, and I never once had any mechanical issues with my bike!

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sean
0
Sean  - June 18, 2015, 8:18 a.m.

Keep us posted Jared! My buddy David Munden (a cyclist too) here in Ottawa works at AC and helped get the investigation rolling again. Hopefully Jared gets somewhere with them now. I've travelled extensively with my bike in a hard shell case (Trico) for 20 years now and never had an issue with damage, and most flights have been AC. I don't trust those soft bags at all.

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adrian-mitchell
0
Adrian Mitchell  - June 18, 2015, 8:12 a.m.

Should have used a hard case my friend… especially with a bike like that… regardless, you might also have insurance if you booked you're flight with your credit card…. All the best

Reply

haiku_stu
0
bobloblaw  - June 18, 2015, 8:16 a.m.

The EVOC case is the best and is actually safer than a hard case for a bunch of reasons. A hard case wouldn't have survived this either.

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rome
0
disqus_NckwlvD6rR  - June 18, 2015, 11:17 a.m.

it is unlikely that a hard case would have survive this either but can you elaborate on why you think a EVOC soft case is "safer" than a hard case?

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haiku_stu
0
bobloblaw  - June 18, 2015, 2:50 p.m.

I've seen a bike smashed against the inside of a hard case and broken - the baggage handlers obviously threw the hard case or it fell off something. The EVOC cases are harder to manipulate so they don't get handled as roughly apparently.

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rome
0
disqus_NckwlvD6rR  - June 18, 2015, 3:36 p.m.

Interesting take bobloblaw. At the end of the day, we rely (and pay) AC to handle our oversized valuable luggage with some care and respect. That being said, I don't have 100% confidence in the baggage system of any airlines/airports. Although there are no guarantees I would still take my chances of traveling with my $7+k bike in a Trico or Serfas hard case over an EVOC case. Good luck Jared!

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blackbird
0
tw  - June 18, 2015, 7:50 a.m.

Air Canada: We're not happy until you're not happy.

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peteyk
0
peteyk  - June 18, 2015, 7:45 a.m.

OGC employee. "share this post brah, and maybe we wont penetrate Canadians so hard even when the dollar is at par, brah".
BMC got cheaper now that OGC doesn't distro them…

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - June 18, 2015, 9:31 a.m.

Lame. You are barking up the wrong tree. Anonymously at that.

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squidder
0
squidder  - June 18, 2015, 10:18 a.m.

Something to consider if he gets a $10K cheque for his $10K bike that he paid <$5K for. $5K+ = profit?

Shame, even he couldn't get a deal on Thule bike box.

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - June 18, 2015, 10:28 a.m.

Even more lame. And equally anonymous. If you are going to call someone out (on an unrelated issue or not) at least have the balls to put your name to it.

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slyfink
0
slyfink  - June 18, 2015, 7:34 a.m.

Holy good good lord. Man, that's painful to look at, sorry to see it.

please keep us posted here on how AC resolves this, and what to do and say to make sure a swift and proper resolution is arrived at…

I have that bag, and it makes me scared, and angry. Given the price they charge us to "handle oversize" items, I really think they should take more responsibility with how they handle them…

Good luck

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rot
0
Brian  - June 18, 2015, 7:30 a.m.

Having had more than a few problems with Air Canada, a couple directly involving my bike, I'm both surprised at the level of damage but not surprised at how Air Canada dealt with the situation. Unfortunately work requires that I fly AC…which I've been doing twice a month for almost 4 years. Especially in the summer, I like to bring my bike as often as possible. I've had a bike lost for over 3 days (on a direct flight!), damaged boxes (fortunately nothing broken inside), and other smaller mishaps. In each incident, the front line staff were helpful and efficient. However, once your grievance gets put into the system, it's another story.

Reading this story almost gave me physical pain. As someone who just put together a nice (and expensive!) build, I'm definitely thinking of leaving the bike at home this summer. Which sucks because that effectively cuts my riding time in half.

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david-mills
0
David Mills  - June 18, 2015, 7:29 a.m.

"I’m hopeful Air Canada will do the right thing."

Not without a healthy dose of public shaming, they won't. Jared, keep pushing on this, I really hope you get a fixed bike and a new bag out of this!

Reply

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