Wow: Air Canada Domestic Economy Gets Free Beer, Wine, Snacks

Wow: Air Canada Domestic Economy Gets Free Beer, Wine, Snacks

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Air Canada is very nicely elevating its passenger experience, just in time for the peak summer travel season.

Air Canada improves economy experience

Air Canada has just rolled out free beer, wine, and snacks, in economy on domestic and transborder flights. This applies as of June 5, 2024, and for the time being, this is limited time, and only available through the end of 2024. This also only applies to domestic and transborder flights, while flights to Mexico and the Caribbean continue to have these items available for purchase.

For context, previously Air Canada only offered complimentary non-alcoholic drinks in economy, with alcohol and snacks available for purchase. Meanwhile on long haul flights, Air Canada has offered free beer, wine, and meals.

So, what kind of complimentary drinks and snacks should you expect on Air Canada?

  • Complimentary beer includes Hop Valley, Creemore Springs Premium Lager, Molson Canadian, and Coors Light, and complimentary wine includes two French wines from Paul Mas
  • Complimentary snacks include sweet and savory options, like buttery herb and garlic pretzels from TWIGZ, and Leclerc’s Célébration Cookie
Air Canada is adding free beer, wine, and snacks, in economy

For those who want spirits, those are available for purchase for just $5 (CAD), which is mighty reasonable. Options include Baileys Original Irish Cream, Canadian Club rye, Bacardi Superior rum, Bombay Sapphire gin, Smirnoff vodka, Tromba Tequila Blanco, or Campari.

Here’s how Scott O’Leary, Air Canada’s VP of Loyalty and Product, describes this development:

“We’re thrilled to continue elevating the Economy travel experience in North America, and we’re proud to spotlight Canadian brands with this thoughtfully curated lineup of complimentary snacks and beverages, in time for your summer travels.This builds on our recent industry-leading food and beverage upgrade to make travel better for all customers, including 100+ new rotating seasonal recipes.”

In addition to the complimentary offerings, I think it’s worth specifically calling out how great Air Canada Bistro is, which is the carrier’s buy on board menu. The airline sells legitimately decent food, including some of the main courses you’ll find in business class. I wish more US airlines had such an impressive buy on board menu.

Air Canada Bistro has some great options

The motivation for Air Canada’s great policy change

Most airlines make significant investments in the passenger experience in premium cabins, since that’s where they’ll see the most return on those investments. Especially in the Americas, it’s rare to see airlines investing in economy in this way, especially when it comes to soft product.

I think we’d all be shocked if American, Delta, or United, announced that they’d offer free beer and wine in domestic economy. So what’s Air Canada’s incentive to make this change, especially since the Star Alliance carrier is Canada’s only real global airline?

Keep in mind that Porter Airlines has been growing rapidly in Canada, and the airline is increasingly competing head-to-head against Air Canada. While the airline historically flew Bombardier Q400s, the airline has been adding Embraer E195-E2s to its fleet, which operate domestic and transborder flights.

One of the things that makes Porter Airlines unique is that the airline offers free beer, wine, and snacks, to all passengers (in proper glassware, to boot). So it’s pretty clear that this is a competitive response on Air Canada’s part.

Porter has been expanding rapidly in Canada

Bottom line

For the remainder of 2024, Air Canada will be offering free beer, wine, and snacks, on all domestic and transborder flights. This is an awesome change that passengers will no doubt appreciate. It’s pretty clear that this is a competitive response to Porter, as Porter increasingly competes with Air Canada in more markets. It’s always nice when consumers win!

What do you make of Air Canada’s service improvements?

Conversations (12)
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  1. Andrew Guest

    one other note is Spirits in addition to wine and beer on Long haul for AC something that LH group has stopped doing and now its only beer and wine for LH

  2. Catriona Guest

    I remember when BA offered this, a man sitting next to me managed 3 beers in a sub-1 hour flight. They still give you a small bottle of water and a snack, like a cereal bar or roasted corn.

  3. iamhere Guest

    I wonder about costs for airlines. I wonder the cost difference between alcoholic and non.

  4. John Guest

    It's sad when so-called full service carriers like AC (and there are many others to be sure) are simply re-introducing what was standard for them back in the day, and is still the standard on M.E. and Asian carriers. Yes it's an improvement, but I can't bring myself to applaud them for this, because they degraded their own standards in the first place.

  5. James Fly Guest

    Still won’t catch me in an AC flight. Their consumer protections are atrocious.

  6. Syd Guest

    Oh snap, very good! Flying NYC-Toronto late July with AC, on a Saturday too. Gonna try & make them run out.
    Now just need US carries to follow.

    1. CP@YOW Guest

      Waiting for my hotel shuttle at YVR just now I overheard a couple AC FAs talking about their first experience with this (the pilots asked them about it). While they did start by saying it is a lot of extra work, the conversation turned around and overall they seemed very happy/proud to be able to provide this level of service to passengers, which was a great attitude to hear. They were surprised that some passengers...

      Waiting for my hotel shuttle at YVR just now I overheard a couple AC FAs talking about their first experience with this (the pilots asked them about it). While they did start by saying it is a lot of extra work, the conversation turned around and overall they seemed very happy/proud to be able to provide this level of service to passengers, which was a great attitude to hear. They were surprised that some passengers already knew about it, which sounds like it wasn't specifically announced on board. (I was in business class so I didn't experience the service)

  7. Portlanjuanero Member

    Alaska subsidiary Horizon used to do this as well. It was super weird to be told on a half hour flight: "To repeat: our only beverage offerings are water, complimentary craft beer, and complimentary wine". Never appreciated it as much as I should have ..

  8. echino Diamond

    Included in all fares including basic, right? And free carryon? Contrast it to WestJet which just gutted their basic economy.

  9. Nc Guest

    And in the mean time LHG is "testing" complementary coffee and tea on short haul economy flights on select routes. Lol. Shame on them

  10. Greg Guest

    Scott O'Leary, the legendary 'CO Insider' from FlyerTalk!

  11. iv Guest

    Fyi… AC has offered free snacks and drinks for flights in and out of Toronto Billy Bishop because of Porter. This just shows that competition is a very good thing regardless if you use the airline or not. Thank you Porter.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Syd Guest

Oh snap, very good! Flying NYC-Toronto late July with AC, on a Saturday too. Gonna try & make them run out. Now just need US carries to follow.

1
Portlanjuanero Member

Alaska subsidiary Horizon used to do this as well. It was super weird to be told on a half hour flight: "To repeat: our only beverage offerings are water, complimentary craft beer, and complimentary wine". Never appreciated it as much as I should have ..

1
Nc Guest

And in the mean time LHG is "testing" complementary coffee and tea on short haul economy flights on select routes. Lol. Shame on them

1
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