Back in April, Air Canada introduced $20 discount for passengers who agreed 1) not to make any changes to their itinerary and 2) not to check any luggage.
Now, the airline is expanding the “Go Discount” program, making the calculation of your airfare even more a la carte:
The carrier is offering four fare types (Tango, Tango Plus, Latitude and Executive) and gives passengers the option to add or subtract items based on individual preferences. The offerings include value-added car rental and hotel services, lounge access for Latitude customers for C$25 ($22.30), advance seat selection for Tango customers (C$15), a C$5 inflight meal voucher option for Tango and Tango Plus customers and options for Tango, Tango Plus and Latitude passengers to save C$5 by not checking baggage and for Tango passengers to save C$7 by agreeing not to change or cancel flights and C$3 by declining frequent-flier miles.
The airline is claiming that the new policy increases price transparency. True enough, and there are some people who can probably benefit from this. But the benefits have their limits.
Putting a price tag on seat assignments — and such a high price tag — is obnoxious. I know, it’s already common practice in Europe, especially among charter airlines, but it’s still conduct unbecoming a full-service airline.
The meal vouchers are reasonable, in comparison. I’m not sure how many people would prefer the airline’s catering to a sandwich purchased in the airport, but at least the price is competitive.
It’s the C$3 discount for declining frequent flyer miles that really gets me. Besides the fact that not earning miles is heresy if you’re under my roof, it’s valuing the miles far too cheaply. I understand that this is aimed at the very infrequent flyer who never collects enough mileage to be worth a free trip, but 3 Canadian bucks?? A flight from Toronto to Vancouver covers 2085 miles each way — even at a conservative 1 cent per mile, that’s over C$40 worth.
It will be interesting to see if any American airlines follow suit. American Airlines has toyed with various fees (like the $1 soft drink experiment) so they might try this. Southwest, JetBlue, and USAirways are all prime candidates for this sort of pricing, too. But it will be difficult to align a menu of flight options with Expedia, Orbitz, etc. And it will make apples-to-apples comparisons of fares even harder, going forward.