Air Canada: A Case Study in how not to Negotiate with your Customers

Fellow travelers looking for a laugh MUST check out my buddy Beltzner’s list of Air Canada inspired haiku’s. Pure genius.

Speaking of Air Canada, WestJet is creating a network of lounges across the country. Great news. Finally some comprehensive competition for Air Canada and some negotiation leverage for the consumer.
Most Canadians don’t even know how badly Air Canada treats them. My favourite example? Air Canada will launch a plane with empty business class seats. In contrast, most US carriers will keep upgrading passengers until all biz class seats are filled (usually prioritizing by status). Why? Because it costs them virtually nothing and helps maintain brand loyalty. In negotiation theory we call that a low-cost/high-value option – something that costs one party very little but benefits the other party significantly.
Alas, Air Canada is essentially telling its customers: Yes, we’d prefer to keep these seats empty rather than reward you for being our customer, even in spite of the fact that it would costs us nothing.

Second example: Never trust what an Aeroplan rep tells you on the phone. I’ve had two friends who, coming within a thousand miles of getting status, proactively called Aeroplan to see if they should book additional flights to ensure they would meet the threshold. Both were told not to worry, there was no need. Yet, in the new year, Aeroplan refused to grant them status. Needless to say, they now ALWAYS book their international flights with another carrier. Nothing breaks trust faster in a negotiation than breaking your word.
Air Canada better pray WestJet doesn’t join a reward program like One World. Between the lure of lounges and reward miles the only thing faster than an Air Canada jet will be the speed at which business travelers jump to WestJet.

I don’t even have a hate on for Air Canada… but this guy does. Plus, the site is a good resource if you feel aggrieved.

(Added on Feb 13th: So I’ve heard through the grape vine that Air Canada does not fill its business class seats because it only packs enough biz class meals to feed the number of people who buy biz class seats. Is this really an insurmountable barrier? One wonders a) if the money saved from not tracking business class travelers might offset the cost of packing enough meals for everyone; or b) if anyone who were upgraded cared if they got a meal, I know I wouldn’t, frankly the extra leg room is far more valuable then airplane food. Was on a AC flight today where several seats in Biz Class remained empty…)

[tags]negotiation, air canada, airlines, air travel, travel[/tags]

12 thoughts on “Air Canada: A Case Study in how not to Negotiate with your Customers

  1. Rikia

    What about all the business class seats (and meals) that are sold, but never used because the seat is fully refundable cancelled at the 11th hour. Flight attendant buffet?

    I’m with you on the huge brand loyalty potential return for the price of a $10 meal.

    Reply
  2. Rikia

    What about all the business class seats (and meals) that are sold, but never used because the seat is fully refundable cancelled at the 11th hour. Flight attendant buffet?I’m with you on the huge brand loyalty potential return for the price of a $10 meal.

    Reply
  3. Harley Young

    The comment about the business class meals is also patently absurd. You can present and upgrade coupon at the gate and there is magically a meal. And even if there is not, they have snacks and will often open one of the meals from the back and offer it to you. But, like Mike above, most people would be content with a larger seat, a quieter place to read/work/snooze and an icy gin and tonic.

    Reply
  4. Harley Young

    The comment about the business class meals is also patently absurd. You can present and upgrade coupon at the gate and there is magically a meal. And even if there is not, they have snacks and will often open one of the meals from the back and offer it to you. But, like Mike above, most people would be content with a larger seat, a quieter place to read/work/snooze and an icy gin and tonic.

    Reply
  5. Pingback: WestJet vs. Air Canada

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  7. coolFlyer

    I saw empty seats in biz-class frequently or FA filled in 80% of the business seats on a AC plane. But I didn't think of their customers services from this angle. Suggestion: if you can display the date of your articles made, it would make more sense to many users, I think.

    Reply
  8. coolFlyer

    I saw empty seats in biz-class frequently or FA filled in 80% of the business seats on a AC plane. But I didn't think of their customers services from this angle. Suggestion: if you can display the date of your articles made, it would make more sense to many users, I think.

    Reply

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