This story is produced in partnership with PaxEx.Aero - The Business of Passenger Experience
Key to customer comfort these days is fewer passengers on board. Air Canada taking that concept to new heights as it brings its Jetz sports charter aircraft into regular passenger service. For a couple round trip flights each day in key business markets the carrier will fly an all-premium A319 with just 58 seats on board.
The Jetz A319s typically carry NHL teams across North America. With league play suspended the planes are grounded. But their lower density configuration presents several positives for Air Canada and passengers alike.
More space, more comfort, but no blocked seats
The Jetz fleet is configured with 58 seats in an A319, less than half the capacity of the carrier’s mainline A319 aircraft. The 2-2 layout means no middle seats to block for social distancing on board, but the 42-49″ pitch on the recliners and generally wider seats is a nice win for travelers. That the flights will operate from “prime gate locations” at Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa is an added bonus for passengers.
Also of note: Air Canada is selling the configuration as a Premium Economy fare. While that comes at a premium to the economy class fares it is discounted against the business class rates typically charged on the airline’s two-class configurations also flying the routes.
It will also be interesting to see if the carrier blocks the few rear-facing seats on board. While they’re far from the facing passengers the arrangement does (slightly) increase the disease transmission risk on board.
Additional personal space should help assuage passenger concerns over disease transmission, but the fleet shift also helps the airline. Demand remains weak in the market overall. As Air Canada looks to slowly add frequencies back in the key business routes connecting Toronto to Montreal and Ottawa the smaller plane offers a unique option. The limited number of seats and all premium configuration help to avoid yield dilution while giving travelers the additional options.
The business traveler focus is clear not just from the premium cabin configuration but also from the flight timings. Two round-trip flights will operate each day on each route for a total of just eight segments with the Jetz configuration. One of the planes will base at Montreal, leaving for Toronto at 7a, departing for the return flight at 9:20a. The evening turn departs Montreal at 4:45p and from Toronto back to Montreal at 7:05p. The other aircraft will base at Toronto, departing for Ottawa at 7a with a 9a return departure time. The evening turn leaves Toronto at 5p and Ottawa at 7p.
Other amenities on board
The Jetz aircraft include in-seat power and paid inflight connectivity via the Gogo ATG4 network. That means no streaming movies on the wifi link nor service below 10,000 feet. But for the very short flights there is an option available.
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Row 11 is rear facing. They are blocked out on the few seat previews I have looked at. I have had the good fortune to fly on one of these. I recall that there was a table between row 11 and 12. I’m not sure if it will be removed for these flights. The exit row (row 7) is where I sat and it has acres more room and is not sold at a premium.
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