Canada’s national carrier regularly takes a beating in the forum of public opinion. From purchasing Airbus aircraft from suspicious German politicians, or destroying a terminally ill child’s wheelchair, everyone seems to have an Air Canada horror story.
Everyone, except me.
I guess I’m lucky (and I may have just jinxed myself), our flying Air Canada with a baby experiences have been relatively drama-free. They have never lost my luggage; we have always had friendly and helpful flight attendants, and no significant delays come to mind. They certainly aren’t the most economical option, but the Aeroplan program is decent and we’ve actually utilized our miles for a few (booked WELL in advance) trips.
For this particular journey, I was flying down alone with the kids. And I was nervous. Bub was a big and boisterous 21mos., and the last time I flew with an almost-2-year-old it was business class (see?! Aeroplan!) and we outnumbered her.
For traveling with babies, I was pleased to see Air Canada’s luggage allotment was (Ed. note: WAS) quite generous. All ticketed passengers are entitled to one checked piece of baggage weighing 50lbs or less, one piece of carry-on, and one small personal item. Checking a second bag is $20 – $50 CDN depending on your destination. When flying Air Canada with a baby, the infant is entitled to a piece of checked luggage weighing no more than 50lbs for their belongings, as well as a diaper bag. Both lap infants and ticketed children aged 0-12 may also check a car seat or booster seat, and gate-check a stroller.
I have one gripe.
In spite of their generous baggage allotment, I still had to pay $75 CDN in overweight fees. As I was flying alone with the children, I opted to use only one suitcase, and it ended up weighing 60lbs – 10lbs overweight. While this happened when we flew WestJet, they took into account that we were checking less bags with less weight overall, and didn’t charge us. Not so with Air Canada (even when I mentioned the WestJet scenario). So even though I was allowed 3 suitcases weighing 150lbs total, and I had one suitcase and was 90lbs under my allotment, I was $75.00 out of pocket. I’m still smarting about that.
At the end of our trip, I was flattened by the stomach flu and we had to postpone our return home. Change fees were $75 CDN per ticket. Ouch. But not as ouch as the almost $300 per ticket they wanted for a flight at a more civilized time. I’m still smarting about that, too.
On our flight down, a passenger was quite ill and the flight attendants were preoccupied with his care. Luckily our flight was mostly uneventful (save for the last 20min – more on that later). They ended up opening the bar at the back of the plane so passengers could help themselves.
Everything else was pretty typical – decent legroom, clean plane, and Air Canada has good seat-back entertainment. The change table was at the back of the plane and they handed out plastic bags for the soiled diapers. One thing I noticed was that, like on Sunwing, our Air Canada flights had cartons of milk for the coffee and tea services, so they could fill a bottle in a pinch (hear that WestJet?!)
On our flight home, I was (thankfully) not solo (small mercies, and all that) and we were flying with an injured child (again, more on that later). We landed at midnight with two sleeping children – one that had to go straight to the hospital – and the Air Canada flight attendants were very helpful and sympathetic. In spite of everything, flying Air Canada with a baby was quite comfortable.
So do I have travel horror stories from this journey? You bet, and I’ll share those with you soon. But I’m pleased to say they didn’t have anything to do with the airline.
Ridiculous overweight fees notwithstanding, flying Air Canada with a baby was a pretty painless experience.