Thursday, November 3, 2011

Prestige My Ass

Because I flew a lot in 2009, late in the year I got a letter from Air Canada that I was now a Prestige frequent flyer. I don't fly a lot, I fly more than most people and I get frequent flyer points with my credit card. I do like flying business because of my size, the meal is a little better as is the wine. I also like the first class lounge for long connections or when I arrive early. When I fly on points if I have enough I try to get business, if I am flying away to whore for Big Pharma I usually try to get a business class ticket out of them. (After flying to Toronto in the middle seat between two people my size, I vowed never to fly to Toronto on "business" without a business class ticket. Now when I get invited to a meeting, I demand business class, they almost always agree. Maybe that's why I hardly get invited anymore.)
I don't pay for business class however. I would have to drink a lot of wine to justify the price differential between economy and business. When I am paying for it myself, I fly economy, get an aisle seat, if possible a bulkhead or exit seat (you can pay a little extra to get one now) and I suck it up. They often don't feed you in economy, therefore I eat before the flight, I bring a sandwich or trail mix. If I want a drink, I pay for it.
I was therefore really excited to learn that I had joined the ranks of the privileged frequent flyers. I had visions of stop-overs in the Maple Leaf Lounge, using the special check in and boarding lines and of course the upgrades to business class.
Then I read the small print.
Prestige is the bottom tier. Elite and Super Elite are way ahead of you. A Prestige class membership and $6 will get you a small plastic bottle of wine on most Air Canada flights. In other words all you really get is a dark grey piece of plastic. You do get 4 "free" upgrades. In order to be eligible for these upgrades you need to buy the most expensive economy class ticket which costs twice as much as the least expensive. This is the flexible ticket which allows you to cancel or reschedule (which is preferred by business travellors who may have to reschedule and whose companies won't shell out for business class). Buying that ticket isn't enough. You then only get an upgrade if there is room in business (which is logical). Therefore you have to bet against your more expensive ticket that you might get upgraded. I actually did this en route to a meeting where my travel was being reimbursed. I got upgraded going out but not going back. And of course I felt bad for stiffing the conference with a more expensive ticket.
You also don't get to use the shorter check in lines, or get to board at your leisure. You do get 4 passes to the Maple Leaf lounge which is better than a kick in the teeth I guess (I used two and lost the other two).
I don't mind not getting something. I do hate thinking I am getting something and then having it pulled away.

1 comment:

Bleeding Heart said...

Oh I found something you do get with your Prestige status. They give you a special number to call if you need to change you flight. I found this out after spending 30 minutes on hold using the regular number.