I am not flying Air Canada again and I advise you don't either. They treat you as a disposable customer, without respect for your personhood -- all they want is your money and don't care in the slightest about causing you to worry or about your or your family's happiness during the holiday season.
Here's what happened. Like many people, I like to spend my Christmas vacation with my family, but since we don't live in the same province, I have to fly out to see them. So, like I do every year, I booked my flight weeks in advance. On the day of the flight, I was excited and looking forward to finally see my family after not seeing them for months. Unfortunately, when I arrived to check in (for a domestic flight) two hours early, I was briskly told that I could not be assigned a seat and that all I could do was wait. No apologies, no explanation, not even an attempt to reassure me or make me worry any less. That's as un-Canadian as it gets.
Not only is it un-Canadian to be so cold to a fellow human (in a worrisome situation too), but it's highly unprofessional as well. At the very least, tell me what you are planning to do to remedy the situation, what steps will you take to accommodate me if I don't end up getting a seat -- don't just leave me hanging there in complete uncertainty.
If I pay for something, a high season price at that, and there are no extenuating circumstances (such as bad weather), then you have to honour my expectations of you, and no, I don't care about what trickery you put in your terms of service. We live in a country that aspires to common sense and human rights, and making a good-faith effort to honour what is expected of you is one of the key traits of Canadian culture. Air Canada seems more like Air North Korea in that regard and doesn't deserve to have Canada to be part of its name.
I understand the issues surrounding overbooking but the whole thing remains an issue within an airline's control and nowhere there is an airline in a position to get all high and mighty and be unapologetic about making passengers wait and worry for an hour as if it's okay. It's not okay, especially during the holiday season when your overbooking gambles can get in the way of a family being reunited.
And there is no wonder that situations like these cause you to miss the stated departure time, thus causing delays for passengers on flights further down the line. You are well aware that the majority of travelers around Christmas are people who are longing to see their loved ones, so when you create snafus like this, you interfere with what matters most in everyone's life -- family and other interpersonal relationships.
Air Canada -- you are nothing short of being the Grinch this Christmas.