Agents React to Air Canada’s New Fare Structure

by Richard D'Ambrosio
Agents React to Air Canada’s New Fare Structure


Travel agents are still assessing the pros and cons emerging from Air Canada’s announcement last week, that it would compete with a growing network of low-cost carriers by broadening its economy class offerings to five, with each class offering fewer benefits the cheaper the airfare.

Some agents said that consumers were already growing confused since February, when Air Canada launched a basic economy fare for price-sensitive travelers, which was followed soon after by WestJet with its “Econo (Lowest)” fares.

The variety of fares and restrictions in Canada is growing as WestJet will launch a separate ultra-low-cost carrier called Swoop in June, flying out of secondary airports like Hamilton, south of Toronto.

“My clients are calling me to ask which [of Air Canada’s economy fares] is better and why, so it's giving the agents who get zero commission booking these fares more homework to do, so we can educate and assist clients to make the right choice,” said Lorraine Simpson, CEO of the Concierge Travel Group, in Fonthill, Ontario. “So, in this case, I'm torn.”

Wendy Edwardson, travel advisor at Vision Travel Solutions, in Calgary, Alberta, said: “I reviewed the tables provided by Air Canada and even printed off the grids to help me navigate the choices. I have heard lots of grumbling and it appears our agents are being asked to deal directly with Air Canada when making bookings moving forward. Some agents have advised they may be dealing with consolidators in the future.”

“Having said that, to date, it has not really affected me. Most of my clients travel business class or book their own air. However, as clients become more aware of the addition of comfort and the rebranding of Tango to Standard, I may be fielding questions in the future,” Edwardson added.

Sandra Aaron, travel consultant and owner at Simcha Travel, Toronto, said she is still deciding whether the broadened fare offering is good or bad for her agency and her clients.

“My first impression when I heard the news was trepidation, because I'm not a fan of the recent trend towards ‘no frills’ type fares. On the other hand, I appreciate the fact, Air Canada has structured the new classes in a way that passengers can choose which services fit their travel styles best,” Aaron said.

She noted that the growing reach of low-cost airlines in Canada has caused her to spend more time educating clients about the differences between the low fares they see advertised and what they are used to. “Although, it will take some time to explain the new fare structures to clients, those ‘apples-to-oranges’ type conversations will hopefully be minimized a bit, because the "Basic" fare is only available through official Air Canada channels.

Canadians like packaged offerings
“As Canadians, we like to have everything packaged,” Simpson said. “All-inclusive is very popular here, and a fare that basically gives you everything you would want in a neat little package is a good one. However, my other personal opinion is that it gives the airline an opportunity to skim a bit extra in the fare.”

Simpson explained, using Air Canada’s Rouge product as an example: “When that came out, it was meant to be a less expensive option with fewer comforts. The seats are far under the quality of a regular seat on Air Canada or comparable scheduled airlines, but it seems to me that the price is the same as other scheduled air, yet it gives you much less.”

For long-haul flights, Simpson said she prefers Toronto-based Sunwing.

  0
  0
Tip of the Day
Daily Top List

Five Places to Go for Spring Travel

1. Carlsbad, Calif.

2. Aspen, Colo.

3. Kauai, Hawaii.

4. Cabo San Lucas

5. Washington, D.C.

Source: Forbes

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=c0a45578-7841-e811-ba59-782bcb66a2f2

Why Is Watching ‘Jane Peel Potatoes’ More Exciting than What You’ve Got to Say?

Sponsored by Travel Planners International.

Video is here to stay and travel agents who embrace it are reaping the rewards. 

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Norwegian’s Dana Gain Headed to Air Canada Vacations
Norwegian’s Dana Gain Headed to Air Canada Vacations

Previously with Norwegian and Carnival, Gain will oversee Air Canada Vacations' national sales strategy, manage partnerships, and support all of the company's B2B lines of business.

Air Canada Expands Economy Cabin Fare Offerings
Air Canada Expands Economy Cabin Fare Offerings

Country’s largest carrier joins global trend to offer multi-tiered economy fares with price-based, in-cabin service offerings.

Travel MarketPlace East Opens Registration
Travel MarketPlace East Opens Registration

Now in its fifth year, the event gives Canadian travel agents an opportunity to connect with fellow travel professionals, participate in educational seminars, and network with suppliers.

Smart App Offers Canada’s First Travel Insurance on Demand
Smart App Offers Canada’s First Travel Insurance on Demand

Travelers can now customize their travel insurance coverage in real time based on geolocation technology using a smartphone app.

Lodging Rates Up in Many Top Destinations for Canadians
Lodging Rates Up in Many Top Destinations for Canadians

Unlike most international destinations they visited, Canadian travelers found strong price values in Asia and the U.S.

Home-Based Travel Agents Are Happy and Successful in Canada
Home-Based Travel Agents Are Happy and Successful in Canada

More and more travel agents up North are moving their businesses home, or starting their travel careers there, and are happy both personally and financially.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Luxury Retreats