Air Canada Domestic Last Minute Upgrades During The Pandemic For Outrageous Prices


Air Canada is one of the airlines that sells upgrades to their Premium Economy and Business Class cabin during online check-in and at the airport and their pricing seems to have gone totally out of control.

While a domestic upgrade usually runs a few hundred dollars Air Canada now charges almost $800 for an upgrade on the 4 hour Vancouver to Toronto segment.

Air Canada has two mechanisms for their upgrades, the bidding system through which you can place a bid for an upgrade on your flight ahead of time and the Last Minute Upgrades based on space available during check-in either online or at the airport.

You can access Air Canada’s website for the different upgrade options here.

Both the Bid Upgrade as well as the Last Minute Upgrade is supposed to be on sale right now.

We currently have a ticket booked as a repatriation flight from Canada to Thailand booked via Cathay Pacific which has an Air Canada feeder from Vancouver to Toronto so I thought I’d have a look.

The experience didn’t start well. Due to the ticket being issued by Cathay Pacific it was displayed that the ticket is not eligible for a Bid Upgrade, too bad.

Upon check-in I had more luck but the price for Business Class was now displayed as CAD $768 for the short 4 hour segment to Toronto.

This pricing is totally out of touch. We’re talking about a 4 hour flight here and not an international long haul segment. The Business cabin was empty as well:

I remember the last time I upgraded on Air Canada was three years ago from Vancouver to Taipei and I paid US$465 for a Premium Economy to Business Upgrade. That was a reasonable price and the minimum bid for that route.

This particular ticket was only been booked in Economy Class without any option given to purchase Business Class as it was marketed by the Thai Embassy in Canada. The liaison to book and pay for it was the Cathay Pacific Sales Office in Bangkok and dealing with them was already difficult enough. I’ll write another piece about the process.


I would have liked to make this trip a bit more comfortable for the passenger but not at this price for a 4 hour segment. Either way the passenger is Star Alliance Gold and oneWorld Sapphire so at least certain priority services are included for her in this crazy itinerary. I would have thought Air Canada wants to make some money but maybe there are passengers who actually pay these outrageous prices.

The only way why this was booked in the first place is that citizens of Thailand only get their quarantine paid for by the government if they utilize the flights organized by the embassy, otherwise they have to privately book an ASQ package and bear the full cost of it.