Continued Trouble: ANA Equipment Swap on Vancouver Route To Aircraft With Inferior Business Class Seats, Filing A Regulator Complaint

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After I published my article about dealing with equipment changes on the example of ANA on the Haneda-Vancouver route we received many emails and comments from passengers who are also affected.

In the course of this ANA has been anything but cooperative and I advised people to complain to their government regulators in order to get ANA on on the authorities radar.

Initially I had that chapter already closed after my own rebooking from ANA to Air Canada has been processed at Haneda Airport (see my article here) but after our readers reported ANA’s cocky attitude basically saying they are doing nothing wrong I decided to escalate the matter and file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation (as my ticket was booked through a U.S. based Online Travel Agent) and the Canadian Transportation Agency.

So far I’ve received cases from at least four passengers (separate parties) who are affected by this and going by the ticketing receipts I’ve seen some of them paid a very high price for their tickets. I suggested them to seek either a rebooking or a refund of their purchase considering the awful product ANA offers on the Vancouver to Tokyo route.

ANA has so far declined each of these requests so the next step is to get the government regulator involved.

You can find the U.S. Department of Transportation Air Consumer Complaint Form here.

Likewise the Canadian Transportation Agency web form to file a complaint here.

You can attach supporting documents such as previous communications with the airline as evidence to your file.

After filing my complaint with the DOT I received the following reply from ANA:

We are in receipt on September 22, 2017, a copy of your complaint from US Department of Transportation (DOT), about the change of equipment for our service Vancouver, BC and Tokyo (Haneda). We likewise acknowledge emails you attached of earlier communication with Customer Relations.

First, we appreciate your choice of ANA for your travel to Singapore, Thailand and Japan. We understand that seat comfort is one criterion among other features when choosing an airline; as in our earlier pronouncement, aircraft and seat specifications are subject to change without prior notice. This notice is ever present in our website and accessible from a link on e-Ticket receipt when purchased from ANA website. We are truly sorry the change in aircraft configuration for your return to Vancouver has caused you disappointment likewise inconvenience.

From the notification we received from Headquarters, the reason for the change was maintenance inspection for flights until October, and onwards until March 2018, a revision of flight schedule and approach for the second half of the year (fiscal year is April-March). As you reported, the current and future strategy for this year is reflected at ANA’s Canada homepage showing Business Cradle, which is anaccurate description of our seat product until March 2018.

In regards to changing your ticket, Customer Relations has informed you on September 14, 2017 to contact your travel agent as only your travel agent may modify your ticket due to specially-contracted ticket. Please note the re-route performed at Haneda was an exception and a special consideration.

In closing, we apologize for the negative impressions formed from this recent experience. We value your feedback, and truly regret our seating in Business Class did not match your expectations. We appreciate this opportunity to communicate with you.

Sincerely,

Gerry N, Supervisor, ANA SKY WEB – Customer Relations & Services, The Americas

Let me start out by saying that a response like this is complete rubbish. All they are saying is basically ‘sorry, not sorry’ and that their own websites fine print entitles them to do however they please.

Furthermore they continue to spout the lie that ANA can’t touch travel agent tickets for operational reasons, especially after a ticket has already been started. This has successfully been proven to be incorrect by the simple fact the the ATO in Haneda could get it done very quickly.

They also acknowledge that the aircraft change is a strategic decision for economic reasons for the winter schedule so by far not a simple.short term aircraft defect. Keep in mind their internationally configured B787-900 continue to fly within Asia like to Singapore and Bangkok on regional routes.

Conclusion

Obviously my ticket is flown and done with. I also got my miles credited and won’t be booking ANA on this route in the very near future especially considering these ridiculous responses received from their customer service. Unfortunately this is one of the big downsides of Japanese companies (and this comes from someone who has lived in Japan for quite some time), namely that they will never admit any fault. It’s annoying to the max and not only in this case.

I have informed the case representative at the DOT that this answer is not sufficient and also in parts untrue. I think people should ask for their money back, especially on expensive tickets. Keep in mind some folks commented that people who booked Premium Economy have now been upgraded to Business Class due to lack of Premium Y seats. For them it’s a great swap of course but for paid Business passengers not so much.

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