Air Canada Same Day Change (SDC) for flights wholly within North America is incredibly generous within North America. If you have some travel flexibility, or alternatively, you are forced to change to a later flight due to scheduling conflicts, leveraging Air Canada SDC options might be a simple way to save a lot of money.
I have personally used it plenty of times. In some situations, it was to save a lot of money. In other situations, it was out of necessity.
I am one of the few travel advisors who provide support on air tickets as well in addition to hotel, cruises and trains. This allows me to provide an end-to-end travel agency and planning service. This article is based on my experience and my client experiences as I help them navigate the Air Canada Same Day Change policy to their advantage.
What is a Same Day Change?
A SDC is where a passenger is allowed to change their flight, on the day of departure, for free or paying a fixed fee, rather than paying the difference in air fare.
Air Canada Same Day Change Policy
As a reminder, the fixed fee for Air Canada SDC policy is:
- Business Class: $0
- Premium Economy Flexible, Economy Latitude and Economy Comfort: $0
- Economy Flex: $75
- Economy Standard between Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton: $100
- Economy Standard between Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa: $100
- Economy Standard: $150
Things to Know prior to an Air Canada Same Day Change
There are a few important considerations that you should be aware of prior to doing an SDC.
Availability of Seats
The Air Canada SDC policy is only relevant if there are empty seats on the aircraft. There have been instances where a flight is completely sold out.
As an example, the picture below shows the availability of a 12.30pm departure from Vancouver on 8 October. The flight is sold out in Business, Premium Economy and Economy Class as it is all 0’s next to all the fare buckets on the flight.
If you were booked on another flight and were hoping to do an SDC to the 12.30pm flight, you will be out of luck, regardless of if you are traveling in Economy, Premium Economy or Business Class.
However, I find that a route like Vancouver to Toronto has so many seats that exact seat availability is always changing. This is where I use ExpertFlyer that allows me to create an alert for any available seat on the flight. ExpertFlyer will periodically check availability and send me an email as soon as it notices a seat that becomes available.
A caveat about ExpertFlyer, the system does not automatically alert you to any availability. Instead, ExpertFlyer periodically checks availability before sending a notification. Hence, I often use a team in India who constantly check availability for important flights for my customers.
Up until now, we have always got our customers to get on the desired flight. And I believe this will invariably be true for a high-density travel pair such as Vancouver and Toronto.
When you do an SDC you cannot change your route. For example, if you booked a flight from Vancouver to Calgary to Toronto, you cannot change your flight to be on the non-stop. This is true in reverse as well. You must fly the route as per your original ticket.
There are three ways to upgrade your Air Canada flight:
- E-Upgrade Credits
- Last Minute Upgrade
- Bid Upgrade
If you do a SDC for any flight that has already been upgraded, you will lose your upgrade.
For upgrades through E-Upgrade credits, you will be playing the upgrade lottery at the gate. If you had a successful bid or did a last minute upgrade, you will lose any money spent towards the upgrade.
Award tickets booked through Aeroplan appear to have SDC fees. I do not have any experience with doing a SDC for an award booking in Economy Class. However, the SDC cost of a Business Lowest award ticket is $100. SDC for Business Class flexible fare continues to be free.
I have been told that there should be no SDC fee for Business Class lowest. In the past, I have been charged an SDC fee, and I have also requested for a refund. I will keep everyone posted if Air Canada refunds my $100 SDC fee.
Award tickets on Air Canada booked through other Star Alliance partners are not eligible for SDC.
Air Canada Rouge
Unfortunately, Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge are not considered the same airline from an SDC policy. This article only applies to Air Canada flights.
All Basic Economy tickets booked on Air Canada are not eligible for an SDC.
Why bother with an Air Canada Same Day Change?
I have listed some of the reasons I have personally used SDC or I have used them on behalf of my corporate customers.
Personal Schedule Changes
I most often use the Same Day Change feature when I am hoping to jump on the 6 or 6.30pm flight from Vancouver to Toronto. As my day progresses and I see a few late evening meetings, I often do an SDC to the red-eye flight to Toronto.
I have also used SDC for the early morning flights from Toronto. If I am booked on the 6.45am flight and I wake up late, or I miss my alarm, I can easily put myself on the next flight to Vancouver.
Business Class vs Signature Class
You will often find that Air Canada Business Class is priced about $300-$500 cheaper than Air Canada Signature Class between Vancouver and Toronto. You can always book Business Class and do an SDC to their Signature Class product.
My previous point about Business Class vs Signature Class is an example of doing an SDC for a better aircraft. However, there will be instances where a better aircraft might be more meaingful for Economy Class customers as well. On one of my flights to Montreal, I had booked the 11am flight from Vancouver, however, I knew a later flight had a better Economy Class product. I opted to do an SDC to the 5pm, even though, at time of booking, the 11am flight was the cheapest option.
As part of my travel agent work, I have leveraged Same Day Changes all the time to help my customers save money and allow them to maintain dynamic day of departure plans.
In many situations, an Air Canada Same Day Change is a great way to upgrade from Premium Economy (Domestic Business Class) to Signature Class (International Business Class) for free.