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Air Canada introduces new way to track bags, mobility aids on flights

The airline says the new feature will provide "reassurance every step of the way" — but customers have shared horror stories in the past.
Travellers on Air Canada flights have a new way to track their bags and mobility aids.

If your bags have been lost or even delayed on a flight, you are far from alone. 

Canada's largest airline has just implemented a new program to prevent travellers and their bags from getting separated during their journey. 

A new feature in the Air Canada mobile app allows customers to track the progress of their baggage and mobility aid in real-time at "key points" while they travel. Travellers will be able to see their bags move from the check-in at the airport to the plane and then through connections before arriving to their final destination. 

On domestic Air Canada flights, travellers can use the same bag and mobility aid tag scanning information that airline employees use to track their belongings. 

In 2024, the program will be expanded to include U.S. flights and then "over time" will include international destinations, says Air Canada. 

The airline says the new feature will provide "reassurance every step of the way."

Air Canada loses wheelchairs on flights 

People who use mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, have shared horror stories about the airline losing or damaging them during travel. In January 2023, Jim Hamilton told V.I.A. that Air Canada lost his custom wheelchair on his flight, despite reassuring him multiple times that it would arrive with him and his wife when they arrived in Santiago, Chile.

Jim's wife, Wendy, said, "You cannot treat a wheelchair like it's a piece of luggage. It's not a piece of sporting equipment. It's not an accessory... it's his legs." 

Air Canada has also recently acknowledged it violated Canadian disability regulations and apologized to a British Columbia man who uses a wheelchair, after he was forced to drag himself off a flight in Las Vegas this summer.

Under its "enhanced accessibility protocols," the airline says the new feature will confirm mobility aids are "securely loaded on the aircraft before it departs."

Travellers can use the "What's Next" feature to determine what to do next to get their belongings, including where to pick them up, such as the airport baggage carousel number they should visit.

If baggage is delayed, Air Canada says the app will alert customers and allow them to file a delayed baggage report from their smartphone to arrange a delivery. This will allow them to save time waiting at the carousel or visiting an assistant at an airport counter. 

Customers will receive a confirmation that the report is received with a file number and a link to follow up on any updates.

"At Air Canada, we know that apart from a safe, comfortable journey, the prompt delivery of baggage and mobility aids is a top priority for our customers. We already achieve a very high reliability rate, but to further elevate our service we are introducing a new tracking feature in the Air Canada mobile app to give customers real-time information, greater certainty about the movement of their belongings during their trip, and heightened convenience," said Tom Stevens, vice-president of customer experience and operations strategy at Air Canada.

Customers can download the Air Canada mobile app at no cost from Apple's App Store or Google Play.

With files from the Canadian Press