So in a shocking turn of events Air Canada announced it's going to start flying to Iqaluit starting March 2010. They're using a Bombardier CRJ-705 jet. This is something I've been wanting to happen for some time, so this should make me quite happy, right?
Oddly enough, I'm kind of underwhelmed by the news. It looks good at first blush, but when you dig a little deeper it's a disappointing launch by Air Canada.
First of all, in a very rare instance of the message boards on a news story being useful, several commentators mentioned Air Canada has been having all kinds of problems with their flights out of Yellowknife when the temperatures dip below -35C. If that's the case, Air Canada is only going to be able to run from March until November anyway. And even then they're going to have problems on some days.
Let me tell you, they're going to have a customer service nightmare up here if there are people standing up in the airport waiting for the flight to leave and being told its too cold while friends hop on a First Air and Canadian North flights and head south. I wouldn't want to be a customer service rep while that's happening.
Secondly, their flights are arriving and leaving at the Iqaluit airport at the same time as Canadian North and First Air. Yes, Air Canada is going to be taking away passengers from the other two airlines. But at peak times it's going to be madness in that airport. Three airplanes loading passengers and luggage at the same time. It can get crazy with just two planes. Three is going to be extra special fun, I can tell right now.
But the final thing that does little for me is the price. After you throw in fees and taxes the cost of the ticket will be about $1,500. With the other two airlines charging about $1,900 for a return ticket to Ottawa, it might seem like a great deal. Except, there are seat sales around that price a couple of times a year. And both the Nunavut Employees Union and the teachers' union offer up codes that give discounts that large. So it's not that hard with a bit of digging to get a ticket for around $1,500.
So if you're not saving that much money, then Air Canada isn't as big a deal. The service is going to be better on Canadian North and First Air. Plus you get a 70 pound per bag allowance with those two airlines and I'm assuming Air Canada is going to stick with their usual 50 pound limit. That's a big deal, especially when coming up from Ottawa.
I think Air Canada is going to be disappointed with the response to their coming to Iqaluit if that's the best price they have to offer. They're going to need to drop their ticket prices another $300, at least, before they're going to seriously catch the attention of people up here.
1. Firewalker - Liz Phair
2. Carolina drama - The Racounteurs
3. Rag & bone - The White Stripes*
4. The frog prince - Keane
5. Life in the D - Brendan Benson