Air Canada: One smile voucher, please!

My daughter found a very funny “Mad TV” clip about Air Canada on Youtube. This is no reality television – but it shows the sad trend that most airlines are going along with…

No, on an Air Canada flight you don’t have to pay extra for seatbelts or oxygen… But there are some services that used to be free – but now have a price tag. This info refers only to Air Canada’s North American flights and everything depends on the fare type you choose…

Air Canada North American service has 4 types of fares:
Tango – $ no frills & barebones approach
Tango Plus – $$ your “basic” economy class experience
Latitude – $$$ more flexible (but quite a bit more expensive) fare created with business people in mind
Executive Class – $$$$ the privilege of 5-7” more legroom, a free onboard meal, access to Maple Leaf lounge and 3 checked-in bags

If you don’t like to pay top dollar for your tickets – here is the list of traditionally complementary airline services you might have to pay for:
1. Meals: Your basic free airline meals have become history! Air Canada has introduced the “Onboard Café” concept where you can buy snacks or packaged meals, depending on the duration of your flight. The passengers on more expensive fare categories (e.g. Latitude passengers get a complementary snack or a meal – max. $8 Cad value). Note that special meals (vegetarian, kosher, gluten-free etc) are not available on the “Onboard Café flights”. Air Canada still has free meal service on the international flights.
2. Advance seating: On the lowest (Tango) fares you will have to pay $15-$22 CAD (depending on the length of the flight) if you want your seat selected in advance. Advance seating is still free for international flights.
3. Assistance in case of flight delays and disruptions: Say hi to the Air Canada “On My Way” program! For $25 CAD, one way, on short-haul flights and $35 CAD, one way, on long-haul, you can “purchase the assistance” for rebooking on any North American airline, complimentary meal allowance, hotel accommodation or ground transportation for ANY extended delay and specialized call centre assistance tailored to your needs… Meaning that now you have to pay extra for “quality” help if Air Canada fails to provide you the services they have promised you when selling you their ticket in the first place!

Here is a table that nicely gives you the choices you have with Air Canada!

An interesting thing to note is that if you go for the cheapest Tango fare, Air Canada also offers you to SAVE $3 if you do not check bags, $3 if you do not want Aeroplan Miles and $5 if you wave the option of making changes to your ticket. So for $11 they can make you the least troublesome passenger of all: no potential hassles with your lost bags, changes to your ticket or giving you any rewards for being a loyal customer… 

The only GOOD news seems to be that a few months ago Air Canada pulled back their “$25 CAD for the second checked bag policy” and now you can again check in 2 bags of max. 23 kg!

Air Canada, like any airline, has always been under pressure to keep their costs under control. For me personally (and for all of my travel agent colleagues) the least popular decision of all times was to stop paying commissions to travel agents quite a few years ago… Which forced travel agents start charging service fees for booking airline tickets… But that is another can of worms 🙂

In the declining economy everyone understands the concept of cutting costs – everyone does what they can get away with. But the other edge of this sword is staying in the competition.

I sincerely hope Air Canada does not give up another traditionally free airline amenity: the SMILES on the faces of check-in personnel and flight attendants! I wonder, what would be the cost of that as an “extra” service…?
Can you book smile vouchers with your ticket? Will each voucher be limited to one smile? And will it be complementary for the Executive Class and Latitude passengers?
Or can I save $3 if I promise not to complain???


Air Canada: One smile voucher, please! — 1 Comment

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