If you’re in the process of booking a trip, one question on your mind might be, “Is Air Canada a good airline?” You’re in the right place to find out!
In this post, I’ll cover the top pros and cons to consider before booking a flight with Air Canada.
I’ll discuss safety considerations, in-flight entertainment, boarding, booking, rewards, business class perks, punctuality, cost, and customer reviews.
Table of Contents
Good Selection Of Entertainment
7 Booking Classes To Choose From
Best Airline And Cabin Cleanliness Award
Easy Check-In And Booking Experience
Photo (c) Unsplash by Albert Stoynov
Is Air Canada A Good Airline – Pros
1. Large Network
One of the top advantages of flying with Air Canada is its size.
It is the largest airline in Canada for both domestic and international flights, with a fleet of over 300 aircraft.
The airline offers over 400 daily flights to and from the United States alone. In 2019, the airline carried a record 51.54 million passengers.
As a founding member of the Star Alliance, Air Canada is also part of a vast network of partner airlines dedicated to improving the travel experiences of its customers.
With all these options, it’s a good bet that Air Canada offers flight service to your destinations of choice!
2. Safe Airline
Another great reason to choose Air Canada is safety.
This four-star airline takes care to operate within IOSA safety standards and is also overseen by fairly stringent Transport Canada.
In terms of global safety standards, Air Canada comes out ahead of the pack.
Although a certain number of incidents are inevitable when it comes to airlines, Air Canada has had zero fatalities since 1983.
Forty years with a clean slate sounds good to me!
3. Newest, Most Fuel-Efficient Planes
Another perk of flying Air Canada is that its fleet is both young and fuel efficient.
This is great news for the longevity of the fleet, and excellent for the environment as well!
The airline has over 130 single-aisle narrow-body aircraft (which improve fuel efficiency by as much as 23%) as well as 26 extra-long range Airbus A321 neo aircraft.
These planes can fly longer with much better fuel efficiency.
Not only is this better for the environment, but it also lowers costs for customers.
4. Good Selection Of Entertainment
If there’s one thing that makes a flight pleasant or painful, it’s in-flight entertainment.
How does Air Canada measure up? I have good news for you here.
Not only does Air Canada offer Live TV (the only Canadian airline to do so), but it also has a growing library of over 650 shows, over 370 movies, and over 150 music albums.
If English isn’t your first language, you’re in luck! Air Canada offers over 1000 hours of entertainment in 15 different languages.
Live TV offerings include CTV News, BNN Bloomberg, LCN, TSN1, live sports coverage, and more.
Audiobooks and podcasts are also available for your reading pleasure.
5. More Than 200 Destinations/6 Continents
Another great perk of flying with Air Canada is the sheer number of destinations the airline flies to.
The airline serves over 222 destinations across the globe, including Europe, Australia, the Pacific Islands, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
Air Canada has flights to hundreds of major cities in Canada and the United States.
In fact, it’s the only airline that offers lie-flat seats on flights between Vancouver and Montreal, Newark and San Francisco, and between Toronto and Los Angeles.
If you fly frequently between these cities, it’s well worth your time and comfort to check out Air Canada’s Signature Class.
The premium lounges and in-air comfort could make a world of difference to you.
6. Aeroplan- Travel Rewards Plan
When it comes to loyalty programs, Air Canada’s Aeroplan is extremely versatile.
Aeroplan members can earn points (and increase their status) through credit card purchases, flying Air Canada, flying any of its 48 partner airlines, and transferring points from hotel and bank partners.
You can also earn points by buying through specific online platforms.
If you gain elite status, you’ll also have access to great perks including free checked bags, cabin upgrades, priority services, and access to Maple Leaf Lounges (which will take your pre-flight experience or layover to a whole new level).
7. Several Booking Classes To Choose From
When it comes to booking classes, Air Canada gives you a wide range to choose from.
Consider your budget, needs, and preferences and match them to the best booking class for you.
Economy Basic – This booking class includes a personal item and carry-on and general boarding.
You’ll have to pay for checked bags and advanced seat selection.
Economy Standard – This class is the same as basic, except that advanced seat selection can be cheaper.
Economy Flex – This class includes a carry-on, personal item, one checked bag, and seat selection.
You can also pay for access to the Maple Leaf Lounges.
Economy Comfort: This class is the same as Flex, but allows access to the Maple Leaf Lounges for $10 less.
Economy Latitude: This class includes a carry-on, personal items, two checked bags, a free meal, and much cheaper access to the Maple Leaf Lounge.
Premium Economy: includes everything included in Latitude with the addition of premium cuisine, expedited security, and a larger seat.
Business/Signature: In Signature class, you’ll have access to lie-flat seating in a private pod (when available), premium cuisine, and everything included in Premium Economy.
It also gives exclusive access to specific lounges, including the Toronto Pearson Signature Suite, and amenity kits.
8. Business Class Perks
If you fly business class, Air Canada offers excellent service on international, national, long-haul, mid-haul, and short-haul flights.
As a business class member (Signature class) you will get access to premium lounges with top-notch cuisine and quiet spaces to relax, onboard lie-down seats in private pods, amenity kits, chauffeur service for domestic connections, premium boarding, fast-track immigration, and more.
Not only that, you’ll have access to one of the top lounges in North America.
The Signature Suite in Toronto is a luxurious space with incredible cuisine and beautifully designed areas.
The Maple Leaf Lounges give you access to complimentary snacks and beverages, spaces to read or watch TV, high-speed wifi, showers to rinse off and re-fresh, and cell-free quiet zones where you can relax without digital disruptions.
If you have work to do, you can also head to the business centers where you can access desktop computers, color printers, copiers, and fax machines.
9. Rewards For Best Airline And Cabin Cleanliness
Air Canada has also won multiple consecutive awards for “Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness” and “Best Airline in North America.”
Global Traveler readers voted the airline the best in North America for four consecutive years.
It also gained accolades for the “Best Airline Onboard Menu” and the “Best Premium-Economy Class.”
It’s been named the “Best Family-Friendly International Airline” and the “Best Family-Friendly Airline in North America” by Wherever Awards for 3 and 4 consecutive years, respectively.
10. Easy Check-In And Booking Experience
When it comes to check-in and booking experiences, Air Canada offers a simple straightforward process.
Select your destination and choose the best flight and booking class for you.
When it comes to check-in, you can print your boarding pass or carry an e-boarding pass on your mobile.
Alternatively, use the airport kiosks to check in, tag your baggage, and/or purchase additional travel options.
11. Ranked Best Airline
Air Canada has been named the “Best Airline in North America” by Skytrax eight times in the past ten years.
The award is given based on customer votes and speaks volumes about Air Canada’s success.
Whatever their failings (which we’ll get into next), the airline has a solid base of happy customers.
The Airline has also won an award for “Best Business Class Lounge Dining.”
The complimentary sit-down cuisine in Air Canada’s lounges is on par with any fine dining experience.
And for good reason! The menu was crafted by Chef David Hawksworth.
Air Canada was also ranked as the best airline by Global Traveler Readers in December 2022.
It has won this award for four years straight!
Since Global Traveler readers are often luxury and frequent business travelers, they are probably flying premium economy or business class.
It just goes to show that Air Canada has many happy customers in this class.
Photo (c) Unsplash by David Preston
Is Air Canada A Good Airline – Cons
12. Bad On-Time Flight Percentage
If there’s one area where Air Canada sags in the rankings, it is its punctuality.
Historically, the airline has offered a less-than-stellar showing.
Statistics from December 2022 state that of Air Canada’s 143,000 flights, 45% of them were delayed.
That said, the airline has made strides to improve its on-time flight stats and reduce cancellations.
Overall flight delays were usually less than one hour and several were only delayed by 12 minutes.
The airline made similar reductions in flight cancellations.
However, this is still something to keep in mind as it has the most potential to negatively affect your travels.
One thing to note is that in a positive review, one customer commented that when his flight was canceled, the airline took good care of him and others on his flight.
They were given food coupons, bused to a nice hotel, given breakfast the next day, given more food vouchers, and then put on the next flight to Vancouver.
He also received a $500 voucher that was good for three years.
Of course, not all customers will receive this treatment, but it’s a good indication that Air Canada can really shine in this department.
Another con of flying Air Canada is the expense. Air Canada flights tend to be on the higher end compared to other more economical airlines (up to 40% more according to one source).
They also have short change fee windows. Nonrefundable tickets cannot be changed 24 hours after booking.
The airline also won’t flex its policy for emergencies, so your best bet is to buy cancellation insurance.
Note that some credit cards provide this, so check with your before booking.
Add-ons for extra services can also increase the cost of your ticket.
For example, you may have to pay up to $100 dollars for seat selection, up to $60 for lounge access, and $10 for Wifi access.
One way to get around the higher costs of Air Canada fares is to check out their Special Offers page, with reduced rates and flight deals.
If the world is your oyster and you’re up for going anywhere, this is a great technique.
14. Lots Of Negative Reviews
Another potential con of flying with Air Canada is their customer service.
The service tends to be no-frills both at the airport and on board the plane.
Expect standard courtesy and customer service, nothing out of the ordinary.
Delays and cancellations are the top complaints among recent customer reviews.
Additional complaints stemmed from minuscule refunds, rude customer service agents, high costs, and inflexibility.
Naturally, there are also positive reviews to consider when it comes to Air Canada.
Several 5-star reviews mentioned the kindness of the staff and the lengths different staff or crew members went to be helpful and keep customers happy and comfortable.
It seems that if something goes wrong with an Air Canada flight, they don’t always go to great lengths to resolve things.
That’s where checking out their FAQ page is a good idea so you know what you can expect and what you have rights to.
Photo (c) Unsplash by Isaac Struna
Wrapping Up: Is Air Canada A Good Airline?
In general, Air Canada is a decent airline, especially for frequent flyers in luxury and business class.
Although the airline doesn’t have stand-out customer service or low rates, it is top-notch for cabin cleanliness, safety, and great in-flight entertainment options.
Air Canada also serves hundreds of destinations around the globe and is part of a massive partner network, allowing you to fly almost anywhere (and earn Aeroplan rewards while you’re at it).
Where Air Canada really shines is in its business class perks and amenities, especially for mid-range flights between the United States and Canada.
Lie-flat seats, excellent lounges, and expedited boarding and security can make your travels much more comfortable and streamlined.
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