Our Globetrotters are reviewing 30 of the world’s leading international airlines for their family-friendliness. Our reviews cover the airline’s policies and service offerings that the average family will deal with when flying standard economy class. For more details on the Globetrotters reviews and ratings referenced, please see the lead article.
Our review today will be exploring Skytrax’s “Number 1 Rated North American Airline” Air Canada. The fact that the first North American Airline comes in at No.24 is quite shocking (and slipped to no.31 in 2016) – but will they please the family traveller?
Alliances: Star Alliance
Skytrax Rating 2016: 31
JACDEC Safety Rating 2017: 16
Air Canada Pregnancy Policy
Expectant mothers with a normal pregnancy and no previous history of premature labour may travel up to the 36th week. After 36 weeks you will need a medical certificate stating that you are fit to fly and estimated due date.
Infants can travel from as young as seven days.
Infants (under 2 years)
Only one infant is allowed per adult lap (16 years or older) paying 10% of the adult fare. Infants occupying their own seat in an appropriate child restraint must pay a child’s fare – 75% of adult fare (free to the US). Child restraint devices are not permitted on international Business Class.
A bassinet can be requested in advance but cannot be confirmed until the time of departure, available on a first come first served basis. Only available to babies less than 12kg (25lbs) who cannot sit upright.
Children (2-11 years)
A child’s fare on International flights is 75% of the adult fare. Between 2 to 11 years old the use of a child restraint device is optional.
Infant and children’s meals are available and must be ordered at least 18 hours before departure.
An UM service can be purchased on non-stop flights operated by Air Canada, it cannot be purchased on connecting or code share flights. The service is not available for children under 8 years old, and they cannot use the service if they are blind/deaf or suffer from nut allergies. Between 8 and 11 years old, an unaccompanied child must use the UM service; it is optional for youths 12 to 17 years. A service fee each way of $100 applies regardless of fare paid.
Bookings must be done with reservations in advance and the child will be seated at the rear of the plane near the cabin crew.
Children occupying their own seat have the same baggage allowance as an adult – allowances vary by route.
If you are travelling with an infant on your lap you may bring a standard carry-on bag not exceeding 10kg to carry their belongings, in addition to your own carry-on allowance. You are also allowed a sling/infant carrier to use on board in addition.
A small stroller is allowed in addition to carry-on (25.5cm x 92cm) to be checked at the gate and delivered to aircraft door at end of flight. Large strollers need to be checked and count as a piece towards your luggage allowance.
A car seat is allowed on board if you have purchased a child’s ticket, otherwise, children aged 0-11 years are allowed one car seat or booster free of charge in addition to their regular baggage allowance.
Frequent Flyer Programs
Children can be enrolled in Aeroplan, the airline’s frequent flyer program from two years old and points do not have an expiry. There is no evidence of being able to pool family points.
The Our Globetrotters View
There is nothing about Air Canada’s service offering that sets the airline world on fire. Their website is dull and unimpressive with little impression given of what your onboard experience will be like. They rate highly on the JACDEC safety ratings, but Trip Advisor reviewers provide an incredibly poor satisfaction score.
Family policies are a little different than other airlines, with expectant mothers allowed to fly much later than others permit; no indication is given online as to whether rules are different for multiple pregnancies. There UM’s policy also differs with only children 8 years and over permitted to fly unaccompanied, the usual age is 5.
Again the lack of family pooling for frequent flyer points is a big minus for me. Uninspiring, uninterested – there would have to be no other choice for me to consider using Air Canada.
(As an after note, we are flying to a wedding in Canada in January 2016; we had no choice for our connecting flight but to use Air Canada. Already we have been done over on luggage not being included in our booking. Please wish us luck after a 16+ hour flight that we are treated ok on our North America connection).
Disclaimer: The information provided on this page should be used as a guide only. It has been gathered from public sources and correct at the time of going to print (May 2015). Please consult the airline’s own website before booking any family travel with this airline. This review is not an endorsement of Air Canada’s services and I am in no way affiliated with the airline.
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Have you flown pregnant or with infants/children on Air Canada? Do you have a review or advice to share with travelling families? Please comment below or you can email us at [email protected] and we’ll share your story!
Don’t forget to check out our advice on how to plan your flights and techniques for coping with jet lag
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