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New Air Canada seat selection fee paused following backlash

But the airline still plans to move forward with the changes in the future.

Air Canada has paused changes to its seat selection policies following backlash from Canadian travellers.

Currently, travellers have to pay to pre-select seats before check-in on an Air Canada flight but can select seats for free during check-in. 

On April 19, Canada's largest airline announced a policy change to seating assignments that would automatically assign travellers a seat at check-in for free. But customers wanting to change their seats would have to pay a fee (see slide two).

Air Canada said the proposed change included "transparent pricing" and customers could skip the option and keep their assigned seat. 

The new seat assignment fee was slated to commence April 24 but the airline told V.I.A. that it has "paused implementation" for "operational reasons."

Air Canada noted that it sells several branded fares at various prices, including its Basic, Latitude and Business Class, and each has its advantages. 

"The ability to select your seat ahead of your flight is one such attribute (an extra bag, refundability are examples of other such attributes)," it said in an emailed statement. 

"For our branded fares that do not permit free seat selection, customers have the option to choose a seat prior to check-in and pay a seat selection fee, or wait for us to assign a seat at time of check-in for no fee."

While the airline has paused the new changes, it added that they are "consistent with our branded fares" and are similar to the policies of other carriers in Canada. 

Customers with children will not have to pay the fee to sit together, regardless of fare class. 

Air Canada will communicate further when it plans to implement the policy.

Travellers respond to Air Canada's proposed seat payment changes

Multiple people took to social media to share their frustration over the proposed changes. 

Traveller Steven Clark shared the changes in a post on X, noting that the airline can "now split your party at their discretion to force you to spend money to ensure your party sits together," adding that its current policy was "a safe gamble at 24 hours [that] you could find seats together."

JW Kite mentioned how "Delta has been doing this for a few years for those who book an Economy (lowest) fare."

Alishya Weiland wrote, "That's quite annoying!"

Another frustrated flyer mentioned, "Westjet does this too and it’s disgusting…just another cash grab!" 

Air Canada launches program to prevent lost baggage

Air Canada recently launched a new program to prevent travellers and their bags from getting separated during their journey. 

A new feature in the Air Canada mobile app allows customers to track the progress of their baggage in real-time at "key points" while they travel. Travellers can see their bags move from the check-in at the airport to the plane and then through connections before arriving at their final destination.