I've flown Air Canada more often than I can remember.. Several times to the Caribbean/Bermuda, the US, across Canada, to Europe and so many times between Montreal & Toronto my head spins.. so I know them well. The only other carriers I've flown on to compare are KLM (many times), Air France (a handful of times), Delta, British Airways, US Airways, United, Northwest and a handful of Canadian & European LCC's or Express carriers..
So in my opinion the positive points are (better than most of the competition I
1. Good well maintained modern aircraft.
2. Clean nicely styled cabin interiors with comfortable seats
3. Decent seat pitch
4. Decent leg room
5. Bilingual staff (or more) for the most part.
6. A good schedule and offering more flights than most domestically & to the US. A wide range of markets served.. from very regional to intercontinental.
7. A top notch maintenance base and well maintained aircraft from a mechanical perspective.
8. Their check in kiosks are excellent and effective.. also one of the first carriers to use them
9. The use of CRJ's to expand smaller markets was ingenious.. and works well.
10. Nicely tied into Star Alliance.. good connecting possibilities with major carriers..
11. Aeroplan (Frequent Flyer Program).. works well.
The "nothing special points" are (meaning they are the same as the competion I've flown or not significantly better or worse);
1. Meals are ordinary and getting worse as oppoed to better but at least you get something even on YUL
2. Relatively ordinary terminal facilities at their key hubs YYZ
3. Generally on time except it's hard at rush hour on YYZ
and isn't always their fault.
4. In flight magazine En Route is good but nothing extraordinary.
5. Video presentation for safety procedures and airport arrival information is ordinary if not less than what you can get on the major competition.. good for safety instruction but nothing on airport arrivel or connecting procedures.
6. Cabin baggage requirements are standard. Bins are adequate.
7. Amenities like pillows, blankets & newspapers are limited and never seem to make it to the back of the cabins
The downside is (meaning things they seem to do worse than the competition I've flown);
1. Cabin crews seem unprofessional in flight compared to other carriers (eg: KLM & Air France). The way in which they deal with people and offer the meal service is uneven and heavy handed at times. I've seen FA
's try too hard to be the passenger's friend or buddy and other times being distant and cold. It's not consistant like on KLM & Air France that have crews that strike me as being highly trained professionals.
2. Flight crew uniforms are dated & requirements for personal grooming are less effective as with KLM & Air France F/A's. I've had flight attendants who look a mess serving us. Frumpy uniforms and hair all over the place.
3. Ground personal are often rude to paying customers when there is a backlog of people moving through the airport. Rather than helping they add to the problems at times.
4. Too much traffic is routed through Toronto creating a bottleneck affecting the rest of the country when weather is bad or ATC there is behind.
5. Telephone operators at the call centre and Aeroplan are quick to over react and sometimes rude. Too few people handling too many calls.
6. Compared to the LCC's there are too many fare options and it is unnecessarily complicated to figure out.
7. No PTV's in their planes. LC
Screens only on Airbuses.. so inflight entertainment is a bit below par.
8. Not that I'd use it but no First Class offered, only business.
9. Their 767s are starting to feel dated inside and could do with a refurbishment.
10. Their financial situation - bankrupt.. meanng cuts are coming and cutbacks occuring.. not always good for the flying passenger.
11. Upper management who's ideas are hard to influence, blame employees and stiff the flying public while offering few innovative solutions of their own to their financial woes.
On average they are pretty good compared to the other airlines I mentioned. Air France and KLM beats them in terms of cabin crews but Air Canada has the better cabins. Their fleet is top notch.. of course I'd like to see the 777 and and A332/A345/A346 in it but at some point they have to make a decision and be realistic to their needs. The weakest points though are with their finances and staff training and their top points are technical and network operations.. They are a formiddable competitor to any world airline despite the weaknesses and so long as they come out of bankrupcy with a realistic plan.