Published on Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What to do if you’re flying strike-stricken Canada

So what should passengers do after the long contentious issue of pension reform has led to a strike in Canada?

Air Canada, that country’s major carrier, says it will maintain its full flight schedule during the strike by its 3,800 customer service agents and call centre staff.

If you have a flight booked, here’s the airline’s advice:

---Check in online or on your mobile device within 24 hours of your flight.

---Show up at the airport early because security lineups “will be longer than usual,” though no specific details were added.

---Take only carry-on luggage, if possible.

The airline says it will also steer passengers toward self-service kiosks, where boarding passes can be printed and baggage tags are available.

The airline said it has contingency plans in place to maintain its full flight schedule, aided by more than 300 managers and nearly 1,400 non-union staff at nine major Canadian airports.

Flights at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport won’t be affected because Air Canada has contracted out its Toronto-Montreal route to non-union counter staff, pilots and flight attendants, said industry observers.

“Smaller airports should be able to run relatively smoothly because many staff there work for Jazz Air, a regional carrier that is gradually repainting its planes to the Air Canada Express brand, says the Toronto Globe and Mail.

“But long lineups are anticipated starting Tuesday at air terminals in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, Ottawa, Montreal, St. John’s and Halifax,” said the newspaper.

Travellers phoning customer service lines will be rerouted to call centers in Tampa, Frankfurt, Paris and London.

The Canadian Auto Workers union, which represents about 3,200 airport check-in agents and 600 call center staff, is warning its members that management wants to gut the carrier’s defined-benefit pensions, which provide a guaranteed level of payout on retirement, according to the Globe.

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