When considering the competition among U.S airlines, should we take account of Air Canada? Maybe.
The Canadian airline is upping its game with an eye toward capturing more U.S. travelers, adding new cross-border routes and enhancing services targeting elite flyers.
Beginning this spring, the airline will add six new routes between Canada and the U.S., as follows:
- Beginning May 1, Edmonton-San Francisco
- Beginning May 1, Toronto-Omaha
- Beginning May 17, Vancouver-Sacramento
- Beginning May 17, Toronto-Providence
- Beginning May 17, Montreal-Baltimore
- Beginning May 17, Montreal-Pittsburgh
The new flights will be operated with 50- or 76-seat CRJs by Air Canada Express.
Beginning later this week, Air Canada premium flyers departing from Toronto airport can await their flights in an all-new airport lounge. According to the airline, “The Air Canada Signature Suite provides premium Air Canada customers with a luxury experience unrivalled in North America that elevates Air Canada into the ranks of leading global carriers for discerning international travellers.” That luxury experience includes complimentary restaurant-style meal service with dishes designed by celebrity chef David Hawksworth, hors d’oeuvres, wine, and cocktails.
The lounge will be accessible only to “full fare paying International Business Class customers, excluding upgrades and most point redemption programs.” Americans connecting in Toronto to Air Canada flights to Europe or Asia are clearly part of the targeted market.
And speaking of premium passengers, Air Canada also announced this week that, beginning later this year, the airline would provide elite members of its mileage program with free Gogo inflight Wi-Fi service. Altitude Elite 75K members will receive six-month unlimited-use passes, and Super Elite 100K members will receive 12-month passes.
It’s obvious that Air Canada is making a play for U.S.-originating travelers, and high-yield American travelers in particular. With moves like this, the airline’s chances look good.
After 20 years working in the travel industry, and almost that long writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.
This article first appeared on SmarterTravel.com, where Tim is Editor-at-Large.