The Differences Between Air Canada Fare Classes


Typically when we write about booking flights on Frugal Flyer, we focus on the basics of economy class, business class, or first class. But when booking within those cabin types on certain airlines, there are often very distinct fare classes that offer various benefits at different price points. Understanding the ins and outs of these fare classes will ensure that you can pick the right one for your travel needs without overspending.

Let’s take a look at Air Canada fare classes and their differences to help you make the right decision when booking your next Air Canada flight.

What are Air Canada Fare Classes?

When you search for a flight on Air Canada, whether you are looking to book with cash or Aeroplan points, you will need to select either economy class or business class as the cabin that you are interested in traveling in.

However, once you select the cabin, a number of additional options are available. For example, in the below screenshot, I have decided to make an economy class booking. However, upon selecting economy class I now have the option of a Standard, Flex, Comfort, or Latitude fare. These secondary options are what Air Canada refers to as fare classes.

air canada fare classes example search

These fare classes come with different benefits and are positioned at different price points accordingly. This gives customers the option to determine what fare class is right for their travel needs and allows Air Canada to accommodate a wide range of clientele who have different travel expectations or desires.

Knowing this, understanding the differences between Air Canada fare classes is imperative to ensure that you don’t pay more than you need to for your next Air Canada flight.

The Differences Between Air Canada Fare Classes

Air Canada offers nine different fare classes that offer varying amounts of flexibility and benefits at contrasting price points. All fare classes typically improve on what the previous one offers, making moving up a fare class typically an upgrade in what you can expect to receive.

While I’ve focused on the differences in the sections below, you can assume that if for example, a lower fare class received a free checked bag, the higher one will as well unless otherwise specified. Additionally, if you hold Aeroplan Elite status, you will receive additional benefits that are tied to your status level on top of what is mentioned below.

Economy (Basic)

Air Canada’s Economy (Basic) fare class is the lowest fare class that can be booked. This fare class is the most restrictive and is great for the traveler who simply needs to travel from point A to B with no benefits or add-ons.

Economy (Basic) fares do not allow refunds or changes and do not permit same-day standby. This means that you should never book a basic economy fare if there is any chance you will need to cancel or change your flight plans, as it isn’t possible to do so without absorbing the entire cost of the trip as a loss.

Aeroplan members who book a basic economy fare can expect to receive 10% Aeroplan points for domestic flights and 25% for all other flights. They will not earn any status qualifying segments, miles, or dollars on their booking.

Customers also must pay for seat selection and checked baggage so if you often fly basic economy, it might be worth adding an Aeroplan credit card to your wallet, such as the American Express Aeroplan credit card, to benefit from free checked baggage on Air Canada flights.

American Express Aeroplan Card

The American Express Aeroplan card earns Aeroplan points and offers cardholders a free first checked bag on Air Canada flights.

50,000 Aeroplan

Of note, basic economy is not eligible for the use of eUpgrades if you have earned any of those from Aeroplan status. For more information, check out our introduction to eUpgrades and comprehensive eUpgrades guide.

Economy (Standard)

Air Canada’s Economy (Standard) fare class is what I would consider the baseline fare. 

Passengers can cancel their flight booking and receive a refund via an Air Canada travel credit however a cancellation fee will also apply. Any changes, whether in advance or on the day of travel, will incur a fee and the fee will vary based on the destination and route. However, passengers on this fare class are able to access same-day airport standby on select routes.

Aeroplan members who book an Economy (Standard) fare can expect to receive 25% Aeroplan points on all domestic flights and 50% Aeroplan points on all other flights. Passengers will also receive 50% status qualifying miles. All fare classes that are Economy (Standard) and above are eligible to earn status qualifying dollars and status qualifying segments.

Passengers on an Economy (Standard) fare will still have to pay for seat selection and checked baggage should they be interested in those features.

Economy (Flex)

The Economy (Flex) fare, as the name describes, introduces an additional layer of flexibility into your Air Canada flight booking.

When canceling an Economy (Flex) booking, passengers will receive a refund via a travel credit to be used on Air Canada and a fee to cancel will apply. The biggest difference with this fare class is that on domestic flights, cross-border flights to/from the USA, and sun destination flights, making any changes only results in the fare difference being charged. Any changes to international flights will still have a fee applied. Passengers will also be able to access same-day airport standby on select routes.

Aeroplan members will earn 100% Aeroplan points and status qualifying miles when traveling to all destinations.

The other positive of paying extra for this fare class is that passengers will receive their first checked bag free of charge and are able to select their seats free of charge.


Economy (Comfort)

Air Canada’s Economy (Comfort) fare class sits solidly between the more simple economy fare classes and the higher-end economy fare classes with a few nice perks.

Most importantly, canceling a flight when booked on this fare class results in a full refund to the payment method used when booking. Any changes that are made to the booking incur a fare difference charge only for all destinations. Same-day standby is available for all routes except for international destinations.

Economy (Comfort) passengers will earn 115% Aeroplan points and status qualifying miles on all bookings. They will also receive their first checked bag free of charge and be able to select their seats with no additional fees.

Economy (Latitude)

Air Canada’s Economy (Latitude) is the most premium fare that falls within the economy bucket as it offers a number of additional benefits.

First of all, any flight cancellations are fully refundable to the method of payment. If any changes need to be made to the itinerary for any destinations, only the fare difference will be charged. Same-day airport standby is available for all routes including international flights.

Aeroplan members who book an Economy (Latitude) flight will receive 125% Aeroplan points and status qualifying miles.

Passengers who are booked on this fare class will also receive priority check-in, priority baggage, and priority boarding as a perk. However, you may already have these benefits from a premium Aeroplan credit card, such as the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege card or the American Express Aeroplan Reserve card.

Economy (Latitude) passengers receive two checked bags and select their seats free of charge. If traveling with sports equipment, the handling fee is included in this fare class for one eligible item per passenger.

While not a full meal service, passengers will receive a complimentary Air Canada Bistro meal box on eligible flights.

Premium Economy (Flexible & Lowest)

Air Canada’s Premium Economy fare class offers two options: Flexible and Lowest. Premium Economy class is typically not offered to sun destinations and will most often be available on international flights.

air canada premium economy fare details comparison

Premium Economy (Flexible) is the higher tier and is fully refundable. Any changes made in advance of travel will cost the fare difference only. This fare class also offers free same-day airport changes and includes same-day airport standby on all routes.

Premium Economy (Lowest) offers no cash refund but instead offers a future travel credit to be used on Air Canada. Any changes made, whether in advance or at the airport on the day of, will have a fee. Same-day airport standby is only available on selected routes.

If you are looking to upgrade your Air Canada experience, Premium Economy is where things start to significantly improve as you have now moved out of the economy cabin and will enjoy a better seat with significantly more legroom and comfort.

air canada premium economy seats

Air Canada Premium Economy passengers will also enjoy a complimentary meal during their flight in addition to complimentary beverages, including alcohol.

air canada premium economy omelette breakfast

The rest of the benefits that Premium Economy passengers are the same regardless of whether the Flexible or Lowest fare class was booked. Passengers will receive 125% Aeroplan points and status qualifying miles.

Premium Economy fares offer complimentary seat selection and two free checked bags per passenger. Passengers will receive priority check-in, baggage handling, and priority boarding. However, they will not receive any fee waiver for any sports equipment that they are bringing as checked baggage.

Business Class (Flexible & Lowest)

Similar to Air Canada’s Premium Economy fare, the Business Class fare also offers a Flexible and Lowest option.

air canada business class fare details comparison

Business Class (Flexible) is the higher tier and is fully refundable. Any changes that need to be made in advance will only cost the passenger the fare difference, whereas same-day airport changes are free. Same-day airport standby is included on all routes for this fare class.

Business Class (Lowest) is the lower tier and offers no refund on cancellations but instead provides a travel credit to be used on Air Canada except for international destinations where a fee will apply. Any-time changes made in advance of the flight will have a fee applied, whereas same-day airport changes have no fee unless you are flying to a sun destination. Same-day airport standby is also only available on select routes.

Outside of the above differences between the two fare classes, all business class passengers will receive many other benefits.

Most importantly, you can expect to receive a significantly better seat in business class. Depending on the route you are flying you may experience Air Canada’s domestic business class or Air Canada’s Signature business class which offers a lie-flat seat in a pod arrangement

Passengers will also receive a complimentary meal and beverages, including alcohol.

Passengers will also receive 150% Aeroplan points and status qualifying miles for all paid business class fares. Additionally, they can expect to receive priority check-in, baggage, and boarding making the airport experience that much more enjoyable.

Passengers will also receive two free checked bags, complimentary seat selection, and an exemption on the sports equipment handling fee for one item. Business class passengers will also receive complimentary Maple Leaf Lounge access. They are also eligible to access the London-Heathrow Arrivals Lounge if flying into LHR.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at San Francisco Airport (SFO)

How to Choose the Right Air Canada Fare Class For Your Needs

When booking Air Canada flights, you want to consider your needs as a traveler before choosing a fare class, including flexibility and the different benefits that come with each fare class.

First of all, consider your budget for your flight tickets and what you require from a ticket. Do you need it to be refundable? Do you think you will have any changes on the booking or are perhaps unsure of the actual dates you will be traveling? Consider selecting the cheapest fare class that satisfies those needs so you can at least receive a travel credit if you need to cancel or pay a small fee to make any changes.

On the flip side, if you are more budget-conscious and just want a seat on the plane without any frills, a basic economy fare might not be a bad idea. However, this fare class is not refundable and changes are not permitted which means that if you do not fly this itinerary, you will take a total loss on the cost of the ticket.

Not to mention, on a basic economy fare, you also will have to pay for seat selection and checked baggage which can add up. However, you can at least save on baggage fees by holding an Aeroplan credit card like the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

The TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* card earns Aeroplan points and offers cardholders various benefits including a free first checked bag on Air Canada and a $100 NEXUS membership credit.

50,000 Aeroplan
Jun 3, 2024

Personally, I avoid booking basic economy when flying on a cash fare just because it’s too restrictive, and life can always happen. I prefer to have the ability to make changes or refund into travel credit simply because things can change unpredictably and would be very disappointed to take a total loss on the cost of a ticket.

When I am booking with Air Canada, I prefer to decide what fare class to book based on my need to make changes. If I am making a completely speculative cash or award booking, I will always choose a fare that allows free changes and cancellations just because my plans aren’t firm. 

If I know I will be taking a trip exactly as booked, I tend to opt for a cheaper fare class to save money and points. If you are interested in learning more about how to do this efficiently, check out our article on making changes to Aeroplan flight rewards.

Ultimately, determine your top-end budget and purchase the fare class within that budget that best fits your needs. Every traveler will have different things that are important to them and since Air Canada offers so many different fare classes it is easy to find one that best fits your needs.

How to Check the Air Canada Fare Class on an Existing Booking

If you have an existing Air Canada booking and want to check your fare class, simply navigate to the “Manage My Booking” page and populate your flight details. Once you pull up your booking, you will see the fare class directly beside the flight routing image. In the below booking, I’ve chosen the “Economy Class – Standard” fare class for my booking.

air canada economy class standard award

You can also click on the fare class name when managing your booking to learn more about the details of that fare class.


Educating yourself on the differences between Air Canada fare classes will only benefit you as a traveler the next time you are interested in booking a flight on Air Canada metal. After all, choosing the right fare class for your needs will ensure you aren’t overspending for benefits you don’t value or require for your upcoming flight.

Josh Bandura

Josh Bandura

Co-Founder at Frugal Flyer
Josh has been involved in the miles and points game since 2015 but has scaled up his knowledge and points earning potential in recent years. With a consistent attitude of "min-maxing" in many aspects of his life, Josh has transferred this mindset over to the miles and points game. Always looking for the next big opportunity, he aims to share content on a variety of topics including his travels, miles and points, and most importantly, how to get the most out of your credit cards


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