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RoTell - July 13, 2022

via Zoom
Editor: Scott Vetter, Ass't Editor: Rosemary Parker


  • Welcome to Rotary guests Satya and Neeru Dev visiting from India.
  • Welcome to guests Disha Soni and Connor MacDonald who came to check out our club.
  • Kateri, Andre and Dave represented RCOS at the Chand Raat Bazaar. Made many new contacts, had a great time, and stayed until after 11pm!
  • Julie gave an update on our global scholars (RCOS has had the honour of nominating the past two District Global Scholarship recipients.) Molly O'Ray is studying conflict and disasters in Manchester, UK. Caitlin Grady is preparing to go to Paris, France for her studies.
Rotary Moment with Julie Cugalj
Jennifer Jones, the first female President of Rotary International has several priorities for her mandate. She is focused on increasing the percentage of female leaders in Rotary, engaging all members with a focus on having fun in Rotary, leveraging Rotary to help bring peace to the world, and supporting our long-standing push to eradicate polio.
Stephen Campbell Talks on the Current Air Transit Situation
Some insight into the logistical train wreck that is todays Air Travel. Specifically, I thought I would wade into why it’s happening, how long it might continue, and some tips on how you as a consumer can best navigate a stressed system.
You might be wondering why I have some insight on this issue…
Well, following a 26-year career in the investment industry, my final 10 years were spent in the Transportation and Logistics sectors.  I hold a fellowship from the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, and spent 6 years in the Canadian Port System.   In 2014, I was appointed a “Member” of the Canadian Transportation Agency, which is the judicial tribunal and regulator for modes of transport under federal jurisdiction.  (Rail, Air & Marine).  (Members serve as Judges, and the Tribunal has the powers of a superior court). 
Suffice it to say, while at the Agency, I heard hundreds of cases related to the Air Industry, most of which were complaints brought by consumers against individual Air Carriers or in some cases, Airports.  Occasionally, we had cases where Air Carriers were acting against Airport Authorities and vice versa.  
It was at the end of my term, the long-promised Passenger Bill of Rights was being developed, but the eventual product was finalized a year after I left.   I cannot say I am a fan of the final product.  Despite all the hype, it is a weak document, and falls short of what is available in the European Union or the US.  Frankly speaking, we have some of the weakest passenger rights in the western world. 
My time at the Agency did, however, give me a front row seat into how the Air Travel Industry works, and the issues that confront the Airlines and traveling public.  So, for today, I would like to address the current challenges traveling by air.   
Post pandemic restrictions…
The surge in demand for Air Travel appears to have taken everyone by surprise, and by everyone, I mean Government, Airports and the Airlines.  The fact it was a surprise is a head shaker, as many experts had predicted it. 
The result has been long line-ups, excessive delays, cancelled flights, and lost luggage.  Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did. 
And if you believe it’s as a result of an unprecedented number of travelers, that wouldn’t be true.  All that has happened is demand returned to pre-pandemic levels, albeit suddenly. 
Clearly, nobody was prepared for this sudden return to normal numbers, and EVERYONE bears responsibility for the mess that has arisen.   
The Federal Government for not having enough CBSA and CATSA staff on hand.  Thousands have missed flights because of excessive security and custom delays.
The Airlines, for scheduling flights for which they knew staff, and in some cases planes, were not available.   The aftermath of the pandemic, is that they are short pilots, flight attendants, baggage handlers and counter representatives.  Yet they still went ahead and took customers money for flights that were iffy at best.   
And finally: the Airports.  Similar to airlines, they had cut staff to the bone during the pandemic.  Yet, because they are mostly paid by traffic, they opened full bore despite not having sufficient staff to accommodate the volumes.
And while this is an international issue, (you’ve likely seen news stories about London, Amsterdam, and others), according to IATA, (International Air Transport Association), currently the three worst airports in the world for delays and cancellations, are all in Canada. Toronto, Montreal & Vancouver.
What are some practical tips for the traveller in this environment…
1. If possible, avoid air travel.
2. If you must fly:
- If available, take nonstop flights; avoid connecting routes.
- if you must take connecting flights, avoid problem hubs.  In Canada, that’s Toronto, and to lesser extent Montreal, Calgary & Vancouver.  Explore secondary connections such Hamilton, Edmonton etc.
- In the US, avoid New York, (all airports); chose a Cincinnati over Atlanta.  Same goes for International, connect through a Munich versus Frankfurt or Amsterdam.  Avoid Heathrow.
3. Get to the airport early, and I mean early, especially for international flights.  Allow significant time to catch connecting flights.  An hour is no longer enough, a minimum of 3 hours is recommended.
4. If possible, avoid taking luggage.  Pack efficiently and utilize carry on.
5. Take a small toiletry kit, (security compliant), toothbrush, etc. as part of your carry-on.  You will need it if you get stuck. Remember to have a phone charger on you.
6. As frustrated as you may be, be polite and patient with front line staff.  Your chances of receiving assistance will improve. 
7. If you do run into difficulty, keep a record of what is transpiring: times, conversations, flight numbers, and expenses you incur.  This record is essential if you later seek compensation or initiate a complaint with the CTA.
8.  Where available, download the airline app.  It is invaluable when seeking updates.  The apps often have info before the Customer Rep’s do. 
How much longer before we start seeing a return to normalcy…
Industry experts are predicting several more months due to staffing shortages, particularly pilots.  It’s going to take a while for the various players to get their act together.
Satya Dev and Neeru Dev, husband and wife, represent two different Rotary clubs in India.
They are visiting their son in Ottawa and were very happy to meet with our club, brining banners, gifts, warm wishes and smiles.
The Community Blend coffee website is live; share the link, share the love, sell the coffee.