Air Canada Ups Antes With Signature Service On Selected Flights (Part 1)

Air Canada Boeing 787 Business Class Cabin

Air Canada enhanced its business class product with the new Air Canada Signature Service. The enhancement is available immediately for international travellers while to be introduced on selected transcontinental flights from June 1, 2018. In a North American first, the airline also announced a guarantee valet service for select full price business class passengers in late 2018.  Find out the details below and the impacts it will have with its competitors. 


Air Canada

Air Canada currently operates to 64 airports in Canada, 60 in the United States and 98 in Europe, the Middle EastAfricaAsiaAustralia, the CaribbeanMexicoCentral America and South America. In its announcement, the Montreal based airline brought the seamless premium experience introduced for its Toronto-Pearson (YYZ) to Vancouver (YVR) flights to the following markets:

  • Starting today: All international flights
  • Starting June 1: At least 12 transcontinental flights within North American operated by Boeing 767, 777, 787 and Airbus A330 aircrafts furnished with lie flat beds with have this new service. The city pairs and their frequencies (based on Summer 2018 schedule) include:
    • Toronto-Pearson (YYZ) to Vancouver (YVR) [1×787, 4×777], San Francisco (SFO) [2×787], and Los Angeles (LAX) [2×787]
    • Vancouver (YVR) to Montreal (YUL) [1xA330, 1×787] and Newark (EWR) [1×787]

Three overnight red-eye flights will be served by the latest wide-body aircrafts. These flights used to be served by smaller Boeing 767s or Airbus A320s.






Vancouver 22:35

Toronto 05:55 + 1 day

Boeing 777


Los Angeles 22:15

Toronto 05:52 + 1 day

Boeing 787


San Francisco 22:45

Toronto 06:37 + 1 day

Boeing 787


Air Canada Signature Service

North America Transcontinental
The premise of the enhanced Air Canada Signature Service is to provide a seamless travel experience for a customer travelling in business class. Qualified North American will have a consistent service including:

At the Airport

  • Expedited check-in at the airport with designated counters
  • Priority security clearance
  • Priority baggage handling and additional allowance
  • Access to concierge services at Toronto-Pearson, Montreal and Vancouver airports on the day of departure for tickets in fare class J, C, D, Z, P
  • Access to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge
  • Priority boarding (Zone 1)

On Board

  • New generation business class seat that can convert to lie-flat beds, AVOD in-flight entertainment system with a minimum of 15″ High Definition screens, A/C Power and USB port
  • Updated onboard menu items from chef David Hawksworth, including for the first time on flights serving lunch and complemented by an expanded wine selection chosen by Air Canada sommelier Véronique Rivest
  • New restaurant style dishware and glassware will be used on board
  • New Air Canada Signature Cocktail


Besides the benefits highlighted for the North American market, eligible international business class travellers will enjoy additional services including:

At the Airport

  • Access to Air Canada Signature Suite in Toronto-Pearson, featuring à la carte restaurant dining from a menu created chef David Hawksworth along with a selection of Moet & Chandon champagne, wines and premium cocktails
  • Access to concierge service at the select airports including (availability may vary based on fare and departure location):
Air Canada Concierge Service Locations
Concierge Service Locations  (Date provided by Air Canada)

On Board

  • Enhanced wine, spirits and Laurent-Perrier champagne
  • Espresso and cappuccino served with dessert or a new cheese selection
  • New amenity kits by Want Les Essentiels, with premium care products by vitruvi
  • the South Asian flights to Mumbai (BOM) and New Delhi (DEL) will feature menu created by chef Vikram Vij 


Air Canada Valet Service

Starting in late 2018, Air Canada will partner with BMW Canada to offer customized valet sedan service for full fare business class customers. To qualify, the customer has to be originating in Toronto (YYZ) or arriving at the airport originating from a domestic flight with onward international travel. This would be especially useful for those customers with tight onward connections. Typically, this type of service is available only in first class travel or high tier elite frequent customers.

Air Canada Valet Service
Valet Service at Toronto Pearson International Airport (Photo from Air Canada)

Benjamin Smith, President of Passenger Airlines said on the new service that “Our new Air Canada Signature Service and Air Canada Signature Class brands reflect the ongoing refinements to our premium travel service. We know our premium customers travelling on longer flight itineraries place a high value on convenience and comfort when in airports or onboard an aircraft, and with Air Canada Signature Service we provide a level of service unsurpassed in North America on every widebody flight.”


Air Canada is the first in the region to introduce a consistent premium product and service for North American transcontinental and international routes flown by widebody aircrafts. This is important as 46% of its 2017 revenue was derived from international passengers (up 3% from 2015). A significant number of them connect onward from the airline’s key hub airports in Toronto-Pearson, Montreal and Vancouver or from Newark, San Francisco and Los Angeles where Star Alliance members have a big presence.

Air Canada Revenue Mix By Group (2017)
Revenue Mix By Passenger Group (2017) (Data from Air Canada)

In the domestic market, the airline is marketing this new service in advance of WestJet’s new international product to be introduced in late 2018/early 2019. Promoting a seamless high quality service with more flight connections may sway enough customers to pay higher prices and to stick with the airline over using a potentially lower priced but unproven new product with a more point-to-point operation.

In the international scene, Air Canada is the highest ranked North American airline at no.29 on Skytrax’s 2017 list and is the only one with a 4-star rating. While its brand value continues to improve (in a recent Brand Finance study, the airline moves up from 21st to 15th in 2017), there is room to grow as the airline expands further into secondary European, African and Australian destinations.  While the new service may not be revolutionary, it provides the airline new opportunities for its marketing department to use the rebrand to engage and build awareness to a wider audience.  As of this post’s published date, a search of “Air Canada Signature Service) on Google generated almost 5,000 results and 500 news stories within one day of the announcement. It was also one of the more talked about topic on popular travel forums and blogs.

In the next installation, we will discuss strategies on how Air Canada can further differentiate itself from other airlines using this new service as a launching point.





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