Air Canada Announces Improvements to Ground & Onboard Experiences

Air Canada has announced sweeping improvements to many of its ground and onboard services. The enhanced measures will be rolled out over the coming weeks and months. 

Prior to a flight, you can enjoy elevated experiences at Maple Leaf Lounges. The changes will include the introduction of sparkling wine, priority access lanes for specific passengers during peak periods, and the debut of the chauffeur service in Vancouver.

Once onboard, there are upcoming enhancements to the economy, premium economy, Premium Rouge, business class, and Signature Class experience. Economy class passengers will enjoy better onboard dining, and Signature Class passengers will enjoy a heightened travel experience, marked by the reintroduction of pre-flight drinks, new amenity kits, and hot towel service.

Changes to Air Canada’s Ground Experience

Beginning in November 2022, Air Canada will roll out a number of improvements at the airport for its passengers.

The most interesting change will be the introduction of priority lanes for passengers travelling in business class or Signature Class, as well as Super Elites. In recent times, lounge crowding has become an issue during peak periods, so this measure ensures priority for people who have paid a premium for the access.

At some airports, these lanes are already operational, offering front-of-the-line access for a subset of the passengers who enjoy access to Maple Leaf Lounges.

Business class, Signature Class, and Super Elite customers will have priority access to Maple Leaf Lounges during peak periods

At Maple Leaf Lounges in hub airports, hot buffet food service has been restored. The lounges also feature local specialities, such as Fairmount bagels, smoked meat sandwiches, poutine, and craft beer in Montreal

In the near future, sparkling wine will be offered in Maple Leaf Lounges, alongside six different wines and a seasonal rose. There will always be Canadian wines available, as the airline highlights local products.

The Air Canada Café in Toronto now offers a selection of Ontario craft beers, ciders, and wine, in addition to the artisanal coffee and fresh-pressed juices. Furthermore, passengers can enjoy hot food items, such as empanadas, arancini, and sliders, in addition to the grab-and-go options that have always been there.

Enjoy Ontario craft beer, cider, and hot food at the Air Canada Café in Toronto

Earlier this year, Air Canada announced the upcoming debut of a Porsche chauffeur service in Vancouver International Airport. Select eligible passengers arriving in Vancouver on a domestic flight will be met at the gate and driven in a Porsche to the Signature Suite, which is in the same vicinity as the Maple Leaf Lounge in the international departures area.

The roll out of the service was expected in the spring, but is set to officially begin in November. While other North American offer ground transfer services either for a fee or exclusively for passengers with top-tier status, Air Canada is the only North American airline to offer it to paid business class passengers.

The Porsche chauffeur service will be offered at Vancouver International Airport as of November 2022

Changes to Air Canada’s In-Flight Experience

There are a number of improvements coming to the onboard experience, including changes for economy, premium economy, Premium Rouge, business class, and Signature Class passengers.

In 2023, Air Canada will expand its onboard entertainment content by 25%, which is set to include live TV as well as tail and belly cameras. Furthermore, the airline is looking to add Bluetooth connectivity to the in-flight entertainment system.

Wi-Fi is available on 90% of Air Canada’s fleet, and the remaining narrowbody aircraft will have it installed by the end of 2023. 

Wi-Fi will be available on all Air Canada mainline aircraft by the end of 2023

Passengers travelling in Premium Rouge will enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi, which can then be used to stream content on the passengers’ own devices. Currently, customers in Premium Rouge are given tablets with pre-loaded content, which will be phased out in favour of free Wi-Fi.

Air Canada is returning to a full service offering in Signature Class, beginning in November 2022. Passengers will see the return of pre-flight beverages, hanging coats and jackets, and hot towel service prior to meals, all of which have been phased out since March 2020.

Later on in November, new amenity kits will be given to passengers in premium cabins. For international Signature Class passengers, these kits will be designed by Acqua di Parma, and passengers in premium economy on international flights or overnight Signature Class flights in North America will be given a different reusable amenity kit.

Passengers travelling in economy on international flights will soon enjoy an enhanced dining experience, with a revamped menu featuring appetizers that highlight the destination’s cuisine, a hot entree designed by Chef Jérôme Ferrer, and a separate dessert service.

Passengers travelling in economy on flights in North America, including to Sun destinations, will enjoy a refreshed Air Canada Bistro menu. Some of the offerings will include a brioche bagel smoked salmon sandwich, vegan options such as farro salad or a spiced chickpea wrap, and Canadian-made snacks.

Good News for All Passengers

The changes to the ground and in-flight experience for Air Canada passengers are all positive. It’s nice to see that not only premium passengers stand to benefit, too.

The addition of sparkling wine, craft beer, and local specialities to Maple Leaf Lounges is a very welcome improvement. I’ve often been disappointed to see the same domestic beers on tap across the country, especially when there are so many better local options available.

There has been a lot of buzz about crowded lounges lately, and it will be interesting to see how the priority lanes work for eligible passengers. Whenever I’ve been in a lineup for a Maple Leaf Lounge, I’ve noticed some people trying to cut the line by walking in, only to be sent to the back of the line frustrated.

Indeed, the upcoming loss of lounge access for Aeroplan 35K members may assist with reducing crowding, but that doesn’t take effect until June 2023. Nobody likes to wait in line, but it makes sense for Air Canada to offer preferred access to business class, Signature Class, and Super Elite customers, who have paid the most for the privilege.

I’ve only enjoyed a ground transfer when I flew Lufthansa First Class, so I hope to experience the Porsche chauffeur service on a trip in the near future. Keep in mind that you can book an eligible ticket with Aeroplan points by booking a Business Class (Flexible) fare, which gives you access to the Signature Suite and, should you be lucky, the chauffeur service. 

Tickets booked on a Business Class (Flexible) fare with Aeroplan points are eligible for Signature Suite access

Lastly, I welcome the return of the full Signature Class experience. This summer, I flew from Paris to Montreal in Signature Class, and while the onboard dining was great, there were a few missing aspects that could have contributed to a better experience.

I was wondering when Air Canada would return to welcome beverages, coat-hanging service, and hot towels, and my question was answered with today’s announcement. I’ll be flying back from Australia later on in November, and I hope that the full Signature Class experience has been restored by then.

Conclusion

Air Canada has announced a number of upcoming changes to its ground and in-flight experience. The changes are a welcome move for passengers across all cabins of service.

At the airport, the offerings at Maple Leaf Lounges and the Air Canada Café will be enhanced to include sparkling wine, craft beer, and more hot food options. Furthermore, select passengers will enjoy priority access to the lounges during peak periods.

Onboard, Signature Class passengers will be glad to see the return of welcome beverages, coat service, and hot towels, in addition to new Acqua di Parma amenity kits. Passengers in economy will enjoy better dining, and all passengers can expect to see more entertainment options at their disposal in 2023.

4 Comments
  1. Jeff H TOR

    Better Vegan Options for special pre order meals; lets see if this will improve upon the current standard of Salad for Breakfast, Salad for lunch and a stale piece of week-old bread for pre-arrival snack to europe. #VGML

  2. Amy

    I purchased Business class (lowest) international ticket, does it consider as Signature Class or not?
    Thanks!

    1. T.J. YQQ

      If your plane has lie-flat seats with Air Canada, it will be Signature Class.

  3. KathyG

    Flying business flexible later in November to Vienna with a stopover in London. Trip was delayed from this past summer due to a death in the family so a much needed vacation is due. Thanks to P of T for the tips to get me there and being able to tick off a bucket list item of Vienna at Christmas.

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