Air Canada: A Review

by MaxPower

Anyone who has followed R4NT for a while will know that I keep close tabs on the operations of Air Canada. Generally speaking my opinion has not been complimentary, due mainly to a perceived lack of customer service, value for money and Air Canada’s propensity for making stupid business and operational decisions.

There have been a couple of announcements recently that I felt were R4NT worthy. First off, was the decision to stop serving free food/snacks on flights over 1.5 hours in North America as of November 1, 2005. When Air Canada went into bankruptcy it stopped serving free food on flights less than 1.5 hours – which makes sense. What really rubs me the wrong way about the latest announcement is the way it was communicated and will be enforced. This is an excerpt of Air Canada?s press release:

“We are pleased to offer our Hospitality Service customers with a popular new innovative menu of reasonably priced items for sale onboard our flights within North America.

Enjoy a tasty sandwich or fruit salad or indulge in a popular snack, the choice is all yours. And, starting November 1, 2005, this new service is expanded to include all flights of 1h30 or longer within Continental North America.”

Oh the “service” is expanded is it? I’ll be able to “enjoy” paying for something that was previously free? I’m being offered a “popular new innovative menu” am I? Why does Air Canada feel it necessary to extol the virtues of no food on a flight like I should be thanking them for the opportunity to pay $1 for a “Quaker Oatmeal to Go” bar when I can get six for $2.50 in the grocery store? I would have respected them more if they took a Westjet/Southwest/Ryan Air tact and said “In order to bring you the cheapest fares we are cutting food service on our flights over 1.5 hours in North America. This will save us X millions of dollars per year which will be passed on to our customers in the form of cheaper tickets”

Not only did they botch the PR, their implementation really sucks. I quote again:

“As an added benefit to our Latitude and Latitude Plus fare customers, we are pleased to offer a complimentary snack selection on our short haul flights between 1? and 2 hours, and a complimentary sandwich and snack selection on our flights of more than 2 hours, upon presentation of your boarding pass. To obtain your complimentary offering please keep your boarding pass handy and present it to the flight attendants as they pass by your seat with the meal cart.”

So now SOME people in the economy section will receive free food and some won’t – depending on how much you spent on your ticket. It will now be the flight attendants job to ensure that only people who paid $X for their flight get a free snack. In Air Canada’s genius mind this will encourage people to pay an extra $100 or $200 for the Latitude ticket, when in fact they are gaining $5.25 worth of services. Bring your own food on the plane! Again, if Air Canada just turfed the whole food idea and said bring your own – we will pass the savings on to you – I think people would be fine with it.

The other Air Canada gem that has come up recently is the “Air Canada Unlimited Pass”. You can get two month of unlimited travel (it has to be this October and November) to 100 destinations in North America for $7,000 before taxes! Seven grand! Now when I first heard about this I thought it was a good idea – like the “Round the World Tickets” you can get. But then I heard about the price. I thought ok, you have 8 weeks to use it. Let us say you’re going to go to 12 different destinations around North American in a travel extravaganza. That is a flight ever 4.67 days. Enough time to check the sights in Miami, Vegas or Sault Ste. Marie before jetting off to your next destination. So if we assume about $8,000 after tax that is about $667 bucks a flight, not exactly a screaming deal, considering you can easily get flights for $700 bucks anywhere in North America any time you want.

Well maybe Air Canada assumes you’ll fly more often. Let’s say 16 flights or twice a week, leaving only 3.5 days to visit Moose Jaw or chill in Phoenix. That’s still $500 bucks a flight. I got a flight from Toronto to San Francisco for just over $500 including taxes only a couple months ago. So why is Air Canada marketing the crap out of this deal, which plainly isn’t all that great of a deal? Maybe it is because the “North America Unlimited Pass is an airline first!”, or so the ads proclaim. Yeah, it’s an airline first because it isn’t a deal and who the hell wants to travel an unlimited amount over two months? They’re not targeting an $8,000 ticket to European backpackers or something. Even business people, who travels that often and that regularly for two months straight? Additionally, code share partners aren’t included so don’t think about flying United with it. Oh and Hawaii, Alaska and Mexico are out too. And it is non-transferable and can only be used by one person. And you need to be Canadian to buy it.

My complaint here is not that Air Canada was trying to be creative; it is just that they come up with something that barely any one would use and then market it like it is the best idea since sliced-freaking-bread. It sucks! The concept sucks, the price sucks and the limitations suck.

I checked again. Air Canada still sucks.

  • Air Canada: A Review
  • by MaxPower
  • Published on October 1st, 2005
Courtesy of Air Canada

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