Air Canada ends physical distancing on flights, reintroduces meal service

Jun 29 2020, 10:44 am

Air Canada is updating its policies surrounding health and safety measures through a variety of avenues, including replacing its previous physical distancing procedure implemented because of the COVID-19 pandemic that ensured that adjacent seats in Economy Class were empty.

Beginning this Wednesday, July 1, the airline will instead be offering a “new transparent process” that provides flexible rebooking alternatives on flights where Economy Class is booked near capacity. Passengers will now receive email notifications before check-in, and separate announcements will also be made at the departure gates.

Those not comfortable with flying on aircraft with an increased number of passengers will be able to transfer to an alternate flight occurring within three days of the original booking or be placed on the next available flight for no extra charge.

“In addition, we are introducing industry-leading, streamlined, touchless airport processes such as TouchFree Bag Check and virtual queuing, and will be resuming meals designed by our Canadian chef culinary panel,” Andrew Yiu, Vice President of Product at Air Canada, stated in a press release.

TouchFree Bag Check has already been implemented for domestic flights out of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary. It will now be extended to other locations as well as for passengers embarking on international flights.

As well, virtual queuing will be introduced at “primary Canadian airports” later in July to provide a more efficient method of managing wait times at select kiosks. Those seeking additional assistance from airport agents can scan their boarding pass to be added to a digital queue where they will receive a notification on their smartphone when they are meant to head over to the counter.

On the aircraft, meal service on Air Canada flights will resume also starting later in July. For the first time, “chef-designed meals” will be made available in Business Class for North America. Passengers in Economy Class travelling aboard international flights will also receive an “enhanced meal service,” the release describes.

Select inflight food options for Economy Class will also be reintroduced on a “pre-order basis” for North American flights timed two hours or more. A greater selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages will also be offered “adapted by cabin and route.”

Air Canada will maintain its protocols outlined and followed through the Air Canada CleanCare+ program, including customers being provided with kits containing a face mask, hand sanitizer, gloves, a water bottle, headphones, antibacterial pipes, and a snack.

Additionally, blankets and pillows will once again be provided for passengers on international flights and will be supplied to them “wrapped and sealed.”

“We continue to assess new bio-safety initiatives to further build on the multi-layered, bio-safety approach our best-in-class Air Canada CleanCare+ Program features to give customers confidence in a safe, secure, and enhanced travel experience with Air Canada,” Andrew Yiu, vice president of product at Air Canada, said in the release.

The airline released its summer schedule back in May, outlining nearly 100 destinations for travellers to journey to domestically within Canada, as well as in the United States and internationally.