Travelers on Air Canada flights will soon have a few more of the creature comforts they’re used to when traveling. But they’ll also be sharing them with more creatures. The carrier announced today it would expand the inflight catering service and reopen some of its lounges while also halting the process of blocking middle seats.
As we rebuild our schedule, we are continually increasing the range of products and services available to safely and efficiently enhance our customers’ travel experience. As of July 1, we will be transparent about flights booked close to capacity in Economy Class and will provide rebooking options for customers booked on such flights.– Andrew Yiu, Vice-President – Product at Air Canada
Restoring lounges and inflight catering
In late July July Air Canada will resume meal service in Air Canada Signature Class, the company’s long-haul business class offering. The airline is also introducing chef-designed meals for Business Class service within North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Customers travelling on long-haul international flights in Economy Class will enjoy an improved meal service.
For economy class passengers within North America meals will be available on flights over two hours, though they will now require a pre-order to be served.
Air Canada is also expanding its beverage selection on board, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks adapted by cabin and route.
Later this summer the carrier also expects to reopen its Maple Leaf Lounges, though specifics on which facilities and when, as well as what amenities will be on offer, remain unclear.
Removing the middle seat block
Air Canada is also removing the cap on flight capacity and will begin selling all seats on board as of 1 July. This ends the policy of reducing the total seats for sale to ensure that passengers could have an empty adjacent seat. Rather than guaranteeing the empty seat the carrier will deliver a “transparent process offering flexible rebooking options” if flights are heavily booked. Travelers will be notified in advance of check-in and at the departure gate and will have the opportunity to switch to another flight within 3 days of the original booking without paying an additional fee.
For other airlines that have launched similar rebooking policies the number of passengers taking an alternate flight remains very low. Either travelers care less about the blocked seats than social media posts would have us believe or they’re already committed to their travel schedule at that point and don’t have the flexibility on their end to take the airline up on the free change.
WestJet also announced plans to resume the sale of middle seats this week. American Airlines made a similar announcement last week. Both will also allow passengers to change to less crowded flights where available.