My New “Go To” Airline

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After several years of countless flights and lost airline miles during my earlier years in travel, I realized that I needed to choose a single “go-to airline” to begin collecting loyalty points. As someone who travels for work, I don’t always book my own flights. Because of that, it’s not always possible–but I wanted to try my best to stick with one airline.

I mistakenly started out testing an airline that begin with the letter U. I had already built up a fair number of points across their network and figured it was best to stick with what I knew. But, it didn’t take long for me to resent that decision–and the airline. After numerous delayed flights and poor customer service experiences, I called it quits.

Next, I began leaning toward KLM/Air France for a while, as I am a big fan of the food aboard Air France, and generally liked both airlines. Unfortunately, they weren’t convenient to my base in Toronto (other than trips to/through Europe). So, it was time to move on again.

But what did I want in an airline?

I wanted an airline with the majority of their hubs in North America, and obviously with a main hub in Toronto. They would need to fly to multiple destinations, including Europe and Asia at the very least. I wanted an airline that I had flown on numerous times and knew that I enjoyed. I wanted an airline with not only edible food, but meals that I could look forward to on a long flight. I wanted comfortable seating with a personal entertainment screen, and preferably a design that wasn’t suited for the late seventies.

Over the next year, I continued to book trips through different airlines, making note of what I liked and disliked about each, eliminating some right away and passing others onto the next stages of my decision making process. It was a lengthy procedure, but well worth the effort.

My winner in the end: Air Canada.

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Why Air Canada?

I have to admit—I’m a proud Canadian, so the name alone is a draw for me. As someone who travels frequently and sees various aircraft all over the world, Air Canada is simply the Canadian airline to me. Whether I’m waiting to board in Sydney or killing time on a layover in Hong Kong, I always perk up at the sight of that familiar red maple leaf coming down the runway.

I have flown plenty of short distance flights with them, as well as a few long haul cross-pacific journeys, and have been equally smitten with them all. Yes, I love travel enough to be smitten with air planes.

You think I’d have more to complain about after fifteen hours in the same seat.

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So, you’re probably wondering what it is like I like so much about Air Canada.

I’ve spoken to some people who dislike AC, but I have always openly stuck up for the airline in personal conversations. What can I say? I have never had a bad experience, and don’t think they fall anywhere near the–shall we say–imperfect quality of my previously tested airlines.

The meals have always been tasty, in my opinion (I usually order the vegetarian meal) and the accompanying wine flows freely. The flight attendants are quick to spot my empty bottle and offer me another right away. You don’t need to ask me twice.

I always enjoy a surprise treat on my tray–like a kit kat and dragon fruit–and happily gobble down Ramen noodle cups between scheduled meals on long trips to Asia.

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I like the plane interiors, especially on their newer aircraft. When the led lights flash from blue to green to pink, I can’t help but feel like I’m sleeping beneath a display of the Northern Lights. Very Canadian-esque. It certainly makes the flight less dull and gives off somewhat of a futuristic spaceship effect. Definitely no seventies décor.

The enRoute In-Flight Entertainment system has never been one to disappoint. I can happily watch hours of movies without ever getting bored, or running out. Just when I think I’ve almost seen them all–a whole new set releases the next month.

Lastly, one of my absolute favourite air plane features: USB ports and Universal 110-volt power outlets. My inner techie sighs with relief every time.

Now if only they could get in-flight wifi ;p

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I was recently given a choice of two flight options for a trip to Edmonton:

A] Afternoon departure, relaxing morning and a no-rushed departure at the end of the trip. Flight with {insert random airline here}.

B] Morning departure, meaning either a night at the airport or a crack of pre-dawn wake up and mad dash to the airport for both flights. Flight with Air Canada.

I chose option B. I realized then, that I had become a loyal flyer.

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Collecting Points

Aside from all the things I like about the planes and the airline itself, one of the biggest draws for me is Aeroplan. It has to be one of the best loyalty program out there, with over 200 partners in travel and shopping–what more could I need?

Flights

This is an obvious one. I flew on approximately one hundred flights over the past two years, so collecting miles in this way will be a breeze. I even went in and claimed missing points from previously flown Air Canada flights, which bumped me up an additional 12k points. Not bad.

Miscellaneous 

How awesome is it that I can earn Aeroplan miles on random things like shopping at Costco, filling the tank at Esso, buying groceries at Sobey’s, or even shopping at the Apple Canada online store.

Hotel

I was excited to realize that I can earn 500 miles per stay at hotels like Fairmont (one of my favourite chains) and Crowne Plaza (the hotel that I usually stay with at the Toronto Airport). Not only can I earn those points from now on, but I was able to go back and claim points from previous stays from last year. Cha-ching! (or whatever sound points make)

After earning all these miles, I can then use them to book a future Air Canada flight (where 12k points = a flight to LA or 50k = a flight to Australia) to just about anywhere I want, or I could even redeem points toward Air Canada Vacations, (where 12k points = $100 or 59k = $500).

I currently have around enough for a round trip within Canada/USA, but I think that I’m going to save up until I can get to either Asia or South America.

Wish me luck :]

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In the end, I’m happy with my decision to choose Air Canada as my “go-to” Airline and will continue to collect points from now on.

A heads up to companies that I work with in the future–please book me on Air Canada ;]

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11 Responses to “My New “Go To” Airline”

  1. Nicole
    February 28, 2014 at 2:52 am #

    *cough* or enough points to come to Australia 😉 haha.

    Glad to hear you’re having fun playing around with points. While I personally haven’t had the best experience with Air Canada (I am willing to give them one more go since their cabin crew was so nice :P) I understand your feeling about seeing the maple leaf… or in my face the kangaroo on the tail of a Qantas plane.

    Sure, they’re having a lot of problems right now but to see the kangaroo leaves me feeling one part proud and another slightly homesick (if I’m overseas), and wondering where my points will take me next.

    Have fun collecting the miles and seeing where they can take you. 🙂
    Nicole recently posted..Love Locks in Copenhagen

    • Seattle Dredge
      February 28, 2014 at 7:17 am #

      Hehe, maybe a RTW ticket with a stop in Australia! 😉

      It seems like a lot of people have a story about AC, but I haven’t had any problems yet. Or, maybe I just have too much wine to notice :p
      I wish I had settled on an airline way sooner.. I feel like you fly with your points a lot and I am totally jealous, haha. But, I’m excited to finally get a collection going :]

  2. Brian Redder
    March 1, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    I’ve never flown Air canada but I might have to check it out. It sounds like a great airline, which is hard to find nowadays.

    • Seattle Dredge
      March 1, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

      Ohh yess, it really is hard to find these days. But, AC is a good contender :]

  3. karla attikoski
    March 1, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    I have only flown with them once, but it was a nice flight. i might need to think about switching over from an airline that starts with the letters AA 😉

  4. Amber
    March 2, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

    I’ve enjoyed my flights with Air Canada also. It makes you feel at home to see the planes in another part of the world for sure! I should start looking into the aeroplan and start earning! 🙂
    Amber recently posted..Hostel Review – Generator Copenhagen.

    • Seattle Dredge
      March 3, 2014 at 9:47 pm #

      Whaaat–yes you must immediately join! It’s free and can only benefit you! How many flights have you had with AC? You can claim miles for previous flights too. Join NOWWWW haha 😀

      • Amber
        March 4, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

        I joined yesterday!! Anxiously waiting for my card in the mail now 🙂 I love that I can get points from a lot of the companies I already shop from! I’ve only had a few flights from them, but am booking another one for May! 🙂
        Amber recently posted..What’s New?

        • Seattle Dredge
          March 4, 2014 at 8:35 pm #

          Yesss it’s so awesome to think that you can basically earn a free flight just from doing stuff you’d already be doing anyway like buying groceries/gas/shopping. And then booking a long flight is like the jackpot in points, haha. Where are you going in May? I’m flying with them again in a couple weeks and was already calculating the miles I’ll earn, haha.

          • Amber
            March 5, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

            Hahaha, I’m like that with optimum points 😉
            I’m *hoping* to go on a cruise in the Caribbean after this semester for the first time! Would love to travel a couple of places over the summer break!
            Amber recently posted..What’s New?

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