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Air Canada Expands In-Flight Entertainment with Free Messaging Services for Frequent Flyers

Members of the frequent flyer program will be able to use free Wi-Fi onboard from May 15th thanks to a new partnership with Bell

by Lauren Smith

May 5, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Air Canada.

Air Canada frequent flyers will soon be able to use in-flight Wi-Fi to access messaging services, including iMessage and WhatsApp, for free as part of a new partnership between the airline and the telecommunications company Bell.

The free messaging service is being rolled out worldwide across Air Canada’s fleet, including Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Express flights, from May 15.

In addition, it will be available to members of the carrier’s homegrown rewards scheme, Aeroplan, as well as members of loyalty schemes with partner airlines, including United MileagePlus, Lufthansa Miles & More, and Emirates Skywards, when their account numbers have been added to their Air Canada booking.

Photo: Premium Economy. Courtesy of Air Canada.

On Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft, these travelers can access the internet to send and receive messages through various apps, including Apple’s iMessage, Meta’s WhatsApp and Messenger, Messages by Google, and Rakuten’s Viber for no charge.

Accessing onboard Wi-Fi on Air Canada jets usually costs CA$6.50 ($4.79) per hour, CA$21.00 ($15.46) per flight, or CA$65.95 ($48.55) for a month (on flights between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico).

The service is being offered through Canadian cell phone operator Bell, but the network confirmed that passengers could tap into the Wi-Fi for messaging regardless of their cell phone provider.

Additionally, on select international flights landing in Canada, Bell will offer tourists and new arrivals complementary SIM cards, which they can activate during the flight using the free messaging service to access cell phone services from the moment they step off the plane.

Photo: Courtesy of Air Canada

“For those new to Canada or visiting, we recognize how important it is to stay connected with family and friends, and the new opportunities being connected can bring,” Claire Gillies, executive vice-president of marketing at Bell, said.

The companies will also collaborate on other initiatives to improve Aeroplan members’ travel experience, including new promotional rewards and an expanded Live TV service on flights to the United States, to launch later this summer.

“We’re so proud to join with an iconic brand to deliver real value to customers across the country, and, importantly, to those new to our country,” said Mark Nasr, executive vice-president and president of Aeroplan.

Photo: Courtesy of CNW Group/Air Canada

“This multi-faceted partnership with Bell will allow Air Canada customers to keep in touch with friends, family, or colleagues wherever they travel.”

The free messaging service is one of several perks Air Canada has recently unveiled for its frequent flyers. Earlier this week, the carrier announced an expanded partnership with Uber, allowing Aeroplan members to earn more points when booking rides and placing orders through Uber Eats.

The airline’s initial partnership with the ride-sharing app, inked in 2021, allowed Aeroplan members to earn points on lifts to and from the airport, Uber Premium rides, and fast food delivery.

From this month, Aeroplan members can earn on grocery and retail deliveries booked through Uber Eats at 1 point per every CA$1 spent, with no minimum spend required. Alternatively, members can redeem Aeroplan points as Uber vouchers, with 3,000 points converting into CA$25 ($18) in their Uber wallets.

Additionally, in the fall, the airline will debut a partnership with Canadian gas station giant Parkland, giving Aeroplan members a chance to earn points when buying fuel, drinks, or snacks at any of Parkland’s convenience chains, including Chevron, Pioneer, Fas Gas, ON the RUN, and Marché Express.