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Air Canada Offering Protection From Weather Delays (For a Fee)

It’s been awhile since I broke out the gold star award. I thought about it yesterday with Delta’s new seat, but that’s still a couple years off from being anything tangible. But when I saw Air Canada’s new On My Way service, I thought it was immediately useful and definitely worthy of a gold star.

goldstarSo, what is this On My Way thing? Well, it’s pretty simple. As you probably know, if your flight is delayed or canceled due to a mechanical issue or something else within an airline’s control, the airline will do a lot to get you out of town. If there are not flights available on that airline in the near future, they’ll put you on another airline. If they can’t get you out that day, you’ll get a hotel and meals. Pretty good, right?

Unfortunately, if you’re stuck with the common “uncontrollable delay” like weather or air traffic control, the airline generally does nothing for you. Sure, they’ll put you on another flight on that airline but that’s about it. Air Canada has been no different from everyone else in this regard, but now they’ve done something crazy.

They’ll treat uncontrollable delays like ones within their control if you’re willing to pay for it.

Here’s how it works. For $25 each way on itineraries of less than 1,000 miles and $35 each way on itineraries over 1,000 miles (in North America only), you can get that coverage. But for that fee, you won’t have to stand in line for hours to get help. You’ll get access to dedicated agents in the Air Canada call center to actually help you with your arrangements. Looking at the list of airlines on which they’ll rebook you, it appears they have pretty strong coverage. All the US legacy airlines, Alaska/Horizon, and WestJet are covered along with a few other small Canadian airlines.

The beauty of this is that it’s a great service for passengers even if it just ends up being peace-of-mind, but it’s also a good deal for Air Canada. Though they won’t know what percent of people that buy the service actually need to use it until they give it a few months, you have to assume that the bean counters did their homework here. They should be able to make money on this deal. It’s a win-win situation, assuming enough people buy it that don’t actually need to use it.

So would you buy it? For me, it’s entirely dependent upon the trip circumstances. If I have an important meeting, I’d absolutely buy it for the outbound flight. For the return? Only if I had to be home for work or something. But either way, it’s a really nice option to have and it can help take a lot of stress out of what has become a naturally stressful situation for a lot of people. For that, Air Canada gets a gold star.

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