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Old Jun 16, 17, 8:35 am   #1
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Why does Air Canada not provide free same-day changes for elites?

This is an area that I have found where there is a simply, a significant gap.

Every US major carrier does it, for every fare class, even mileage tickets. You can even change transborder tickets, tickets to Mexico, as well as the Caribbean.

WestJet does it for Golds, even if there are teething issues with the new benefit.

The only place where free standby is offered for elites is on the triangle routes. And that's only to move flights earlier; you cannot move them later like all the other programs.

Alaska Air does it for all passengers and their dog on every shuttle market.

Why can Air Canada not provide a basic service for elites that every other airline has?

And no, don't tell me to buy a Latitude ticket, because no other carrier is asking for the same thing. Do they simply not have the IT? The trained agents?
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Old Jun 16, 17, 8:43 am   #2
  
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I agree. AC should provide it for free for elites.
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Old Jun 16, 17, 9:03 am   #3
  
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I think it is simply a business decision. They have no real competition so they need/want to cater to their "best" customers. This is a for-profit airline and most things they do is 'for profit'.
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Old Jun 16, 17, 9:30 am   #4
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keitherson View Post
This is an area that I have found where there is a simply, a significant gap.

Every US major carrier does it, for every fare class, even mileage tickets. You can even change transborder tickets, tickets to Mexico, as well as the Caribbean.

WestJet does it for Golds, even if there are teething issues with the new benefit.

The only place where free standby is offered for elites is on the triangle routes. And that's only to move flights earlier; you cannot move them later like all the other programs.

Alaska Air does it for all passengers and their dog on every shuttle market.

Why can Air Canada not provide a basic service for elites that every other airline has?

And no, don't tell me to buy a Latitude ticket, because no other carrier is asking for the same thing. Do they simply not have the IT? The trained agents?
+1. The $75 fee is annoying even for airport same day changes. There have been other discussions around this as passengers taking other flights, specially earlier ones would allow AC flexibility on later flights if required. I have to pay change fees even as a SE on flex tickets. Nickle and dimes.
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Old Jun 16, 17, 9:34 am   #5
  
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Originally Posted by vernonc View Post
+1. The $75 fee is annoying even for airport same day changes. There have been other discussions around this as passengers taking other flights, specially earlier ones would allow AC flexibility on later flights if required. I have to pay change fees even as a SE on flex tickets. Nickle and dimes.
Completely agree - at minimum early standby should be available to 50k and up on any fare. Not just in the triangles.

Free SDC should be available at least to 100k.
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Old Jun 16, 17, 10:05 am   #6
  
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TRANSLATION............."it should be free for me"

Why would AC give up a $75 dollar fee when it would only hurt them? If I was a shareholder of AC (I am not btw) I would say charge the fee until a competitor comes along that threatens the business.
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Old Jun 16, 17, 10:08 am   #7
  
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AC is definitely the outlier here among NA airlines in not offering same day changes to their top tier members. However, I'd expect they collect millions in same day change fees, so they'd be reluctant to give it up.

The area where it could have a payoff would be in reducing oversold flights. I'm sure there are plenty of instances each day where a customer would prefer to move from an oversold flight to a flight with space, but doesn't because of the fee. One of the side benefits to free SDC's is that some customers on oversold flights would voluntarily move to flights with room, which is a benefit to the airline in reducing IDB/VDB compensation. The system wouldn't (or shouldn't) allow them to do a SDC to full/oversold flights, so any time a customer moves away from an oversold flight, it's one less potential IDB.

In addition to it being a good benefit for AC's frequent fliers, it could have some business benefits in reducing oversold flights.
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Old Jun 16, 17, 1:11 pm   #8
  
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I have heard stories like people can't do free SDC from an oversold flight to a flight with space. I have also been denied SDC despite the flight being wide open. I think the bigger issues are poorly trained staff and their "sophisticated" IT.
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Old Jun 16, 17, 2:54 pm   #9
  
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I will agree with this proposal - especially for the higher fare class - Tango+/Flex or Premium Economy. I do want to add that in my experience this light version of this is being used.

Like I have an international connection and if I arrive at the airport early, the agent may put me into an earlier flight out to the Vancouver Hub if there is room.

However, I have less luck on my way back (ie trying to get on an earlier connect flight back home after flying from overseas into Vancouver). The ticket agent seems more rule-based. Wished they were more innovative. The last trip back, the flight was overbooked. They could have allowed me to go on an earlier flight for free - a win-win... but nope. The end result is 3 members were "volunteered" to give up seat for $400 credit each.
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Old Jun 16, 17, 3:18 pm   #10
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gcashin View Post

The area where it could have a payoff would be in reducing oversold flights. I'm sure there are plenty of instances each day where a customer would prefer to move from an oversold flight to a flight with space, but doesn't because of the fee.
.

I agree, although I have had experience that suggest that AC will try and avoid this result if it is drawn to their attention. On at least three occasions, I have suggested that I would be agreeable to a no-fee same day change at the airport (at least once was for a later flight) and was given one. In those instances expert flyer suggested that my flight was likely oversold. A couple times I have asked and was refused on the basis that the flight I was aiming to move to was oversold.


This little example of pareto efficiency does not, however, equate with AC offering free SDC with people adjusting their original ticket purchases to reflect optimized price/SDC probabilities for instances in which flights are not oversold.
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Old Jun 16, 17, 5:36 pm   #11
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Originally Posted by The smallest state View Post
I think it is simply a business decision. They have no real competition so they need/want to cater to their "best" customers. This is a for-profit airline and most things they do is 'for profit'.
Well said The smallest state, thanks.

Indeed, very very rarely something isn't for profit and even if it's not for profit, sadly it's often not "free" either.

Cheers & Safe Travels.
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Old Jun 16, 17, 7:04 pm   #12
  
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Originally Posted by keitherson View Post
Why can Air Canada not provide a basic service for elites that every other airline has?
Straight answer is, Air Canada doesn't think to do things like this because they couldn't care less about customer experience. The only thing that matters to Calin and the management team is making their next bonus.
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Old Jun 16, 17, 8:41 pm   #13
  
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Originally Posted by keitherson View Post
Why can Air Canada not provide a basic service for elites that every other airline has?

Do they simply not have the IT? The trained agents?
Why do AC elites think that any new benefit should be reserved for elites?

To your broader question - simple: AC thinks they can make more money from confirmed SDC than the hypothetical possibility that free standby's will reduce VBD/IDB compensation. I'm pretty sure training and IT have nothing to do with it. They're quite capable of handling upgrade lists, which is not all that different.

Unfortunately, I even proved AC right one day; having taken advantage (as a non-elite!) of United's free standby on my first flight, I stood disappointed in LAX at AC's counter... "what do you mean you don't do standby???" and then forked over the cash for SDC.

I've heard some objections along the lines of: some people may "game" the system by buying cheaper flights and then standing-by for earlier, more expensive flights. Though I don't doubt this occasionally happens... so what? Do they really think such people would buy the more expensive ticket if they didn't have the free standby?
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Old Jun 16, 17, 10:12 pm   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The smallest state View Post
I think it is simply a business decision. They have no real competition so they need/want to cater to their "best" customers. This is a for-profit airline and most things they do is 'for profit'.
I agree on the business decision reason, but I wouldn't call a elite member a "best" customers for AC.
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Old Jun 16, 17, 10:53 pm   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keitherson View Post
...even mileage tickets.
This requires me to point out the difference between UA SDC and AC SDC.

UA SDC requires same fare class availability. If you're booked in I class, good luck doing a SDC. I've offered to pay the $75 in the past, to be told it's not possible, because there's no I space.

AC SDC requires "positive space". I'm still not entirely sure whether that's "in the cabin" or "on the flight" (meaning I think I've been able to move onto an oversold flight because J was not full), but it's a much easier policy to follow.

So I suspect that's one reason. SDC is not equivalent on all airlines. I actually recall an experience where I booked AA F LAX-SFO after explicitly looking up their SDC policies, only to find out their F policy was not described as it was implemented. It ended up requiring a supervisor override to get me the SDC, because my fare class was not available on the flight I wanted. And this was paid F booked 28 hours out.

On AC, that would not have been an issue. SDC would have been possible, and actually free (since all paid NA AC J fares include free SDC).

That being said, I've certainly made use of the free SDC for Gold on UA, and it is a nice feature. But the last time I used it, I was looking for SFO-SAN. The flight my friend was on was $150. The cheapest flight that day was $100. I booked the $100 and SDC'd to the $150, free of charge. UA lost $50.

Another AC FTer told me he regularly books the latest reasonable Rapidair flight, knowing he will clear standby onto whatever flight he wants, every single time. So if the 4pm is $500 and the 8pm is $200, he's paying $200 for the 4pm.

I trust this has answered your question.

I also trust that you understand I have not expressed an opinion in this post, and have only been pointing out facts.
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