COLUMN: Alex Di Pietro — Feb. 12, 2013

Alex Di Pietro
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Before I speak of the issues I’ve encountered at the Saskatoon Airport, I’d like to preface this article by stating that my experiences have been largely positive. Coming from a large city centre like Montreal, it’s comforting to know that I can usually arrive at the airport in Saskatoon an hour before takeoff and still make domestic flights.

Disappointingly, my experience returning from the airport over the Christmas holidays was anything but pleasant. When I initially arrived at 6 a.m. to catch a 7 a.m. flight to Montreal on Dec. 21, I noticed there was no plug provided for the stall that I had parked in. I now realize that, on its website, the airport publicly acknowledges that not every parking spot comes equipped with a plug. Nevertheless, I figured I had plenty of time to make the flight and planned to seek an explanation for the missing plug once I entered the airport.  As I moseyed into the check-in area, I was met with rows upon rows of people. I then glanced over at the security checkpoint and noticed the same. There was not enough time to inquire about the plug and make the flight, so I stepped into the check-in line, passed the security checkpoint and hopped on my flight moments after my name was being called on the intercom.

Upon returning to Saskatoon from the 10-day trip, I had a bad feeling my car wasn’t going to start. After all, I had left it unplugged in upwards of -30 C weather for 10 days. After acquiring my luggage, I eschewed the lines to the in-facility parking pay stations, attempted to start the car remotely and threw my luggage into the trunk. I figured if it hadn’t started that I’d better call my roadside assistance provider pronto. After three instances of stopping and starting with just one click of the remote, I decided to start the car manually. Luckily, with one turn of the key, it fired right up. 

Relieved that my car had started, I decided to let it warm up and pay my exorbitant parking bill inside. The airport allots parking patrons exactly 15 minutes to leave the lot upon making their payments. The strange thing about that is there are only half-hour, hour and daily rates. Now, with no one in my path to the pay station, I popped my credit card parking pass into one of the machines and followed the prompts. As I attempted to retrieve my pass and receipt, the machine displayed a message stating that it was unable to process the request.

Knowing I had limited time to leave the parking lot, I quickly called for assistance. An airport employee arrived about seven minutes after I had made the payment. I quickly explained my situation, and he opened the machine to retrieve my parking pass. He said he was unable to retrieve the receipt. With little time to fuss, I made a break for my vehicle and headed toward the parking lot exit.

In order to leave the lot, patrons must insert their parking passes into another machine at the exit. My pass was denied. With it being 2:30 a.m. on New Year’s Eve and no one behind me, I quickly shifted the car in reverse and headed back to see the same employee inside the airport. I tracked him down near one of the other machines and asked why my parking pass hadn’t worked. He pointed out that there was no stamp on the pass indicating that I had paid. I explained that I had paid but that the previous machine hadn’t printed a receipt. He said my only option was to pay the $120 fee. I asked whether I’d be double charged, and he replied, with assurance, that I would not. Frustrated, I decided paid the bill. While there, I figured I’d inquire about the airport’s electrified parking stalls. The employee said that all of the stalls had come with some feature to plug the car in. With that obviously being false, I asked him to show me where  the plug was at my initial parking stall. When we approached the parking spot, he was speechless. There was no place for me to plug my car in, and he had no explanation. I asked him why patrons only get 15 minutes to leave the parking lot if they’re paying for a minimum of half an hour. Again, he had no answer. I left the parking lot unsatisfied with I had heard.

I received my credit card statement about two weeks ago. I was double charged for the amount of $120 and am now waiting to resolve a dispute with the Saskatoon Airport Authority.

Organizations: Saskatoon Airport

Geographic location: Montreal, Saskatoon

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