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Air Canada’s Weak Low Fare Guarantee

Air Canada has now swept out its top management and it’s trying to do what it can to avoid running out of cash. I’m sure a lot of work is being done on the finance side, but I’ve been waiting to see what they’d be doing on the revenue/promotion side of things with this new team. The first move? A low fare guarantee for those who book on the Canadian version of Air Canada’s website. Lame.

They say it’s “industry-leading,” and that may be the case in Canada, but it’s pretty similar to most of the ones that have come and gone in the US over the years. That being said, Air Canada’s fare structure makes it even harder to use than most. If you buy a ticket on AirCanada.com (Canadian version only), you have 24 hours to find a lower fare elsewhere. If you find it, you report it online and get a $50 credit plus the difference in fare. One catch. That lower fare has to be within the same fare bucket.

You’ll remember that Air Canada has a branded fare bucket approach (that I love). Tango fares are the cheapest and come with a certain set of benefits, and it moves up from there to different buckets with different benefits. So if you bought a “Latitude” fare, you would have to find another Latitude fare for cheaper somewhere else. The only problem is that I don’t know of another website that breaks down Air Canada’s fares that way. So good luck.

You could always check with a travel agent to see if there’s a lower fare around, but that’s probably the only place you could do it across all fare buckets. (And who is going to do that, anyway?) I seem to remember reading that a lot of people upsell to higher fare classes, so this may be a nice marketing message, but I’d imagine that few people will actually be able to take advantage of it. That will just confuse and annoy people, and that’s not a great way to do business.

I hope they’ve got more up their sleeve than this.

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