Across the Board: Air Canada’s Signature Class Service Guarantees Lie-Flat Seats


Air Canada's Signature Class cabin on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Image via Air Canada

APEX Insight: Canada’s flag carrier is making sure passengers get a good night’s sleep – and know that they can count on it, too.

Some countries are so big that it can take longer to fly within them than to another continent. Canada is one of them. Business travelers departing from Montreal, in the east of the country, could reach Iceland or Colombia in around the same time it takes to touch down in Vancouver on the Pacific coast. That’s one of the reasons Air Canada began offering lie-flat seats on some of its busiest domestic and transcontinental routes in June.

“The fact that someone can go to Vancouver, do their business in a day, and have the guarantee that they will be able to sleep on a lie-flat seat going home is of tremendous value,” says Andrew Yiu, vice-president of Product at Air Canada. “Nobody else offers the same level of service between Canada and the United States. Nobody else can guarantee and dedicate lie-flat seats on these routes, especially on red-eye flights.”

After conducting trials of the Signature Class service over the past few months, Yiu says Air Canada has been receiving “overwhelmingly positive” feedback. “We get a lot of customers on these flights connecting to international destinations, so some of them are saying, ‘It’s about time that I’m getting a consistent experience from A to Z.’ It makes it easier for us to market because passengers are getting lie-flat seats across the entire journey.”

“Nobody else offers the same level of service between Canada and the United States.” – Andrew Yiu, Air Canada

Although Air Canada was already offering lie-flat seats on domestic and US flights, Yiu says, “You’d never know what aircraft you’d be getting until you showed up at the gate.” Now the airline can confirm with travelers, at the booking phase, that they’ll be getting the same level of experience from check-in to the lounge and on board. “We put a lot of thought into consistency,” he adds.

But because the market has converged in terms of cabin products, Yiu says, Air Canada still had to ask itself: “What can we do to separate ourselves from our competitors?” One of the answers arrived at was improved food and beverage. “Despite all the other distractions on board, people, especially in the premium cabins, want to know what we are going to feed them and what kind of wines we have on board,” he says. “I don’t want to give anyone who has the choice a reason not to connect through Canada.”

“Across the Board” was originally published in the 8.4 September/October issue of 
APEX Experience magazine.