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Saturday,  July 13, 2024 9:30 AM 

Air Canada changes seat selection policy, implements new fee

  • Air
  •   04-26-2024  7:03 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Air Canada changes seat selection policy, implements new fee
Pax Global Media

This story was updated on Friday, April 26 at 2:55 p.m. EST

EDITOR'S NOTE: Shortly after this story was published, Air Canada informed PAX that it has paused the implementation of its new policy for "operational reasons to ensure a smooth rollout for our customers and employees."

Air Canada says it will communicate its next steps "at the appropriate time."

Air Canada has made a change to the way passengers booked on specific fares can select seats.

As of this week, travellers who booked an Economy (Basic) or Economy (Standard) fare can no longer select a Standard seat for free at check-in.

Instead, Air Canada now automatically assigns a seat upon check-in, and passengers need to pay to change to a different seat (if that’s what they want to do)

Air Canada sells a variety of branded fares at different price points, such as Basic, Latitude and Business Class, each of which has different attributes that customers can choose to pay for or not, depending on the branded fare they buy.

The option to select a seat ahead of a flight is one such attribute (an extra bag, refundability are examples of others).

What's changed?

PAX reached out to Air Canada for clarification on its new seat selection policy.

In an emailed statement, the airline noted that for branded fares that do not permit free seat selection, customers have always had the option to choose a seat prior to check-in and pay a seat selection fee – “or wait for us to assign a seat at time of check-in for no fee.”

“What has changed, and is consistent with our branded fares, is that after seats are assigned at check-in for no fee, customers who now wish to change to a different seat from the one we assigned them will have to pay the same fee they would have paid prior to check-in,” Air Canada wrote. “This is the practice at other airlines, including some in Canada.”

Air Canada isn’t the only carrier to assign seats to passengers on lower fares and charge for changes – it’s a practice WestJet, Porter and Flair have long had in place.

Customers who are travelling with children can rest assured that Air Canada will continue to assign seats to ensure families on the same booking are seated together for no fee, as per Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR).

Air Canada didn’t state how much its new fees are, saying that they vary – “but whatever the price is for seat selection before check-in will be the same during check-in,” the airline said.

The new policy impacts passengers on Air Canada flights within Canada, to/from the United States, and on select international itineraries on Economy (Basic) or Economy (Standard) fares.

For more about Air Canada's branded fares and the options available, click here.

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