Air Canada’s Drastic Onboard Service Cuts

Filed Under: Air Canada

Airlines have been adjusting their service in light of the coronavirus outbreak. In general I support this for both passengers and crew, as I can see merit to limiting the service, in order to minimize interaction, and provide as much social distancing as possible. After all, flight attendants are putting themselves at very high risk of contracting coronavirus.

While some airlines have announced onboard service cuts, many of these measures have been fairly minor. Well, Air Canada has announced some major service cuts.

Air Canada’s new service on shorter flights

For flights operating in Canada, to/from the United States, Caribbean, and Central America, here’s what you can expect:

  • For all cabins, we will provide individual water bottles instead of our bar service offerings and pillows and blankets will no longer be available.
  • Complimentary headsets will be provided to customers on flights equipped with in-flight entertainment.
  • In Premium Economy and Economy Class, we will suspend food service including our Bistro offerings
    • In light of these changes, customers may wish to take this into consideration prior to arriving at the airport, as many concessions and restaurants at the airport may also be closed.
  • In our Business Class, we will provide a pre-packaged meal or snack on all flights longer than two hours. Unfortunately we will not be able to accommodate any special meal requests
  • For Air Canada Rouge, iPads will no longer be offered

As you can see, this means that for most flights service will be limited to just bottled water, with no option to get other drinks, and no option to buy food.

Air Canada won’t offer pillows on many flights, including in business class

Air Canada’s new service on longer flights

For flights between Canada and Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America, expect the following:

  • Starting at a yet to be determined date, all food service will be transitioned to pre-packaged food in all cabins, while bar service will be limited to water only.
  • As of March 19, pillows and blankets will no longer be available in Premium Economy and Economy Class; only blankets will be offered in Air Canada Signature Class.
    • For Air Canada Rouge, iPads will no longer be offered

As you can see, even in long haul business class, Air Canada will only be offering water and pre-packaged meals.

Air Canada is cutting full food & beverage services on all flights

Air Canada lounges being closed as well

Air Canada is also closing several lounges, including the following:

  • All Maple Leaf Lounges at Toronto-Pearson (YYZ)
  • Maple Leaf Lounges at Ottawa (YOW), St-John’s (YYT), Regina (YQR), and Saskatoon (YXE)
  • Air Canada Café at Toronto-Pearson (YYZ)
  • Air Canada Signature Suite at Toronto-Pearson (YYZ)
  • London-Heathrow Arrivals Lounge (LHR)

The Air Canada Signature Suite Toronto is closed

Bottom line

These are some pretty drastic service cuts on Air Canada’s part, though I can’t blame them. For example, if flying long haul in business class expect no Signature Suite, and also don’t expect anything other than bottled water and pre-packaged meals.

Air Canada has significantly scaled back flights in light of reduced demand and new restrictions on travel.

What do you think the right approach is for airlines to take towards onboard service in light of the current situation?

  1. It should be titled ‘Why no one should fly Air Canada Business Class right now’

    I get we are in the middle of an unprecedented situation, but, you can’t say fly me – at $4,000 or more in biz – and offer virtually no service.

  2. I think this will have minimal impact. Who’s flying right now anyway – especially in J? My business has suspended all travel indefinitely.

  3. @Tom Smith – then don’t. The world has bigger issues to consider than Mr Smith’s travel priorities.
    I wouldn’t be considering non prepackaged food on a plane anyway. A bowl of mixed nuts anyone?

  4. @ Ernest Alleva +1. Just like “fuel surcharges” were supposed to be a temporary measure.

  5. I just paid $3000 EXTRA to move a business class flight forward 2DAYS to try to get home from Europe.

    But DOUBLING THE AIRFARE and then REFUSING any service is unethical (called USURY OR FRAUD)

    Well done Air Canada.

  6. I’m glad I got to experience BA First a month ago from SFO to LHR. I pigged out and had 3 different kinds of champagne. Well worth the 87K miles plus $600 surcharge especially if things never go back to the way they were.

  7. @Azamaraal

    These are not normal times, and you’re concerned about service? Be glad you can even fly. And honestly who expects anything from Air Canada? Except for many Delta, NA airlines are all trash.

  8. Flew First AS and JAL from Anchorage to Manila and Bus from MNL to CEB via PAL. That was three weeks ago. Had to grab a last minute flight back to ANC prior to PHilippines closing all of the airports. Was put on Emirates economy. Service and food were terrible. Plane was not even full. Young Male European FA from CEB/ CLK to Dubai was surly, uptight and did not smile the entire flight. Missing JAL already and I haven’t even boarded Emirates flight from Dubai to SEA. On a positive note Dubai airport is business as usual and the plaza lounge still had most offerings other than their espresso machines which were shut down for some reason.

  9. Thanks for the heads up, flying AC YYZ to LHR tomorrow night, will pack my own duvet and pillows. Already have these made to size, used to do this before they upgraded J.

  10. With absolute certainty this will be the standard of service going forward when this over, for your safety of course.

  11. I just flew JAL first class from LAX to Narita and Premium economy from Narita to Hong Kong.
    The service was pretty much identical as before, and all F/As were wearing gloves and masks. I felt very confident about consuming the meals and drinks. In economy, they no longer offered a choice but the rest is fairly normal. I really don’t understand why Air Canada has to stop serving meals and drinks with COVID-19. It was nothing but a cost-cutting exercise. Just ask your F/As to wear gloves (which most US carriers already do) and masks now (of course airlines have to provide them)! It is just a silly move that will not make traveling any safer.

  12. Air Canada should be gone bankrupt in 2009, if it wasnt for a bailout.

    They ll be first one with their hand out again this time around.

  13. @CMorgan said: Young Male European FA from CEB/ CLK to Dubai was surly, uptight and did not smile the entire flight.

    EK has to uphold it’s reputation. Also in premium classes, at the counter, at the lounges.
    The famous “blank stare.”

  14. Given the circumstances I think this makes sense. I hope things can return to normal before summer. Wishful thinking I suppose. Stay safe everyone!

  15. Wow I literally just got off AC003, everything was normal although plane was only abt 60% full. Guess I got lucky with my timing.

  16. I am so skeptical about anything coming from AC!
    I am in Australia and had booked a flight back to Canada.
    Less than 48 hours after AC cancelled my flight and my money is loocked securely in AC coffers!
    AC remains silent as of today March 20th…

  17. Wow! That sucks! I totally understand the health issues for the FAs, but could they not be provided with gloves and masks? I know they wear gloves when collecting rubbish from passengers and when clearing up meal trays. Provide them with masks if necessary.
    If they decided not to serve meals etc. How about refund the passengers a portion of the $ which was for the meal?

  18. Why cannot people at least try to understand that this is a very special kind of a crisis, that we are all are undergoing, at the moment, comparable to a war-like situation. All our priorities need to be changed for the time being. We need to have the gumption to try and understand that the airlines that are still flying, are doing us a favour, by putting the lives of cabin crew still at risk to ferry the ones who are so desperate to either fly back home or return to a dear one. Ask the ones that are flying today whether they would be happy to miss the flight or the champagne, and you will get the true answer.
    The people who are so unhappy with the lack of facilities available at present unfortunately do not understand that in this time of extreme crisis, it is madness to expect full service on an aircraft when you are flying, just because you are paying the money for your ticket.
    Forget travel for the time being folks. Forget work. Just stay at home till things get better and sip your own champagne.
    …And when things do get better, let us pray that the major airlines of the world will still be there and not become bankrupt, because if they do, then flying will become far more expensive than it is now.

  19. Probaby Air Canada stops serving propter meals because their catering company have to close almost all activities since they can’t ensure health safety to their employers: in kitchens you have to work quite closely to yours workmates so it’s not good for coronavirus epidemia

  20. I’m amazed at how ignorant, selfish and idiotic some of the comments on here are. I am a flight attendant. Yesterday, I got the dreaded call that a passenger on my flight tested positive of covid-19. Now, I’m in quarantine and self-isolation. Well aware of the risks these past few weeks, I have nevertheless showed up for work and brought passenger back home. Get a grip you selfish *holes!

  21. I understand why AC has done this for health reasons. However, don’t expect any of those services to ever come back. Plus, I anticipate U.S. airlines will follow suit.

  22. I really find the cuts weird fir business class. How can a beer in a can or say wine in those small boxes be a health hazard. They pass out water bottles and food boxes. I believe it is to cut costs as they know revenue is down. It is always about money with Air Canada. Always

  23. Air Canada has always been an overpriced underperforming airline. Also if you have a connection, going through Canadian customs a nightmare! It makes the USA border seem like Schengen zone. (Pre apokalis era)

  24. I’m on AC971 PVR-YVR right now.

    5 hour flight and it couldn’t be more Canadian! Everyone is happy to be getting home and not a murmur about the lack of service.

    Whatever minimizes the risk to the public and staff works for me.

    Every dime saved to keep the airlines bringing people home is ok by me.

  25. Statement 1:
    “you can’t say fly me – at $4,000 or more in biz – and offer virtually no service.

    Statement 2:
    “I think this will have minimal impact. Who’s flying right now anyway – especially in J? My business has suspended all travel indefinitely.”

    Analysis :
    Statement 2 falsifies Statement 1. Ergo name change for “Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center”

  26. @B

    As an American it is obvious you have never entered the US as a non-American.

    I still remember standing in the pouring rain outside LAX immigration waiting for even entry into the building on a flight from PVR.

    Or another time waiting in non-American line in MIA for 4 hours while the 3 adjacent US RESIDENTS line had agents sitting on their ‘assets’ doing squat. Flight from that terrorist hotbed, LHR.

    Just to be fair, stand in your non-citizen line (and not Global) and then get back to us.

  27. @ Paul

    I understand that since you are flying on the same ticket you aren’t too unhappy about a 5 hour flight. When I fly YLW-PVR I don’t bother with in-flight at all. Maybe buy a beer on the way back.

    My $3800 ticket from Portugal (for 2 pax) turned into $7300 in order to move the return 2 days forward. And for that $3500 extra they !! Take Away !! all the service.

    So in your case you lose a pay for lunch and the price stays cheap.

    But please don’t suggest what happened to passengers from countries facing imminent complete shutdown while balancing the real risk of Covid-19 is at all equivalent to your non-event.

    Ps – we’re still stuck here waiting ………

  28. It’s annoying that so many comments are about being selfish. For right now I totally understand the need for modified service. I’m not complaining at all about it for now as a temporary measure. In fact I’m glad proactive steps are being taken. But as someone else mentioned, fuel surcharges were supposed to be a temporary measure but no matter how low fuel prices have gotten, the surcharges have stuck around permanently.

    The thing I have a problem with is if they continue this reduced service AFTER the pandemic has subsided. A lot of companies are going to use this situation as an excuse to put in place things or lay people off that will continue after the pandemic and save them money permanently going forward

  29. I ALWAYS avoid Air Canada, as I have never had good experiences with them. Unfortunately, I had to fly back home to Toronto from Bankok via Air Canada (yep, everyone screaming at me to return ’cause of COVID). The ANA (Japanese airine) leg was absolutley flawless, great food, service, good expereince overall. And then there is Air Canada – one of the worst long haul flights from Tokyo to Toronto I have ever taken – Air Canada only provided bottled water, and finger sandwiches claiming to minimise any COVID exposure. Really ?? Providing water instead of coffee is more dangerous ?? What a total rip-off from a company that should know better. I wil not forget this, and I will ensure everyone I know doesnt either.
    Anyone else disgusted with Air Canada’s policies ?

  30. I’m heading home to Vancouver tomorrow from Sydney. On Air Canada Signature Class. While the new rules were a bit of a shock (I do love the glass of Prosecco on offer as we enter the cabin!), I’m managing to get home before all flights are suspended. Just getting food and clean blankets to the airport would be a logistical nightmare. It’s not just safety of crew and passengers. I’m sure we will all be very happy to get home.

  31. Air Canada is using this simply as an excuse to cut services while charging the same price. People are idiots to accept this treatment and excusing Air Canada for this exploitative behaviour. Canadians are such sheeps!

  32. No, no, no, we are sheep! The plural of sheep is sheep. Thereby, I submit that you, sir, are the idiot for excusing yourself from good grammar.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *