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TORONTO — There’s nothing more comforting or more convenient than a coffee shop, which is why Air Canada has recreated its very own at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Opening this morning in Terminal 1’s domestic gate area, the brand new Air Canada Café is the first of its kind by any airline in North America, offering premium customers a wide selection of specialty coffees, beverages and grab & go items. The entire concept, from its décor to its menu, has been designed with speed and convenience in mind.
“If you think of a traditional business class lounge, there’s certainly an expectation that you don’t take food to go. Here we’re all about encouraging our customers to grab items and consume later on,” said Mats Winter, Director of Airport and In Flight Product at yesterday’s exclusive media preview. “Cafes and grab & go concepts already exist with some carriers globally, but this is really the first time in North America that you have an airline opening up a coffee shop, essentially.”
Winter added that though there are no definitive plans to expand the concept to other locations in Canada, “we’re certainly going to be very interested in expanding to Montreal and Vancouver” should it exceed expectations.
Located across from Gate D20, which is often used for Air Canada’s departures to Montreal and Ottawa, the Café was first conceptualized to alleviate traffic in the upstairs Maple Leaf Lounge. Speaking exclusively with Travelweek, Andrew Yiu, Vice President of Product at Air Canada, said that the airline had two choices: to build a second lounge that would mimic the one it already had, or to develop a completely new concept.
“We started looking at the clientele that were flying mostly on domestic flights, who we believe fly more often,” he said. “They like to spend as little time at the airport as possible while at the same time, when they do have time they want to be able to sit down, have a place to charge their phones, do some work and get a bite to eat. So we started getting inspired by coffee shops.”
Available to Business class passengers, those who hold Elite 50 and above status and Star Alliance Gold members, the 109-seat Air Canada Café includes a Barista Station for freshly squeezed orange juice, a wide selection of Lavazza Coffee and Cold Brew, cold brew mocktails and specialty hot drinks. There’s also a self-serve station featuring Greenhouse Juice products such as kombuchas, cold-press juices and other non-alcoholic beverages, Lindt truffle chocolates, OKA fine cheese and Gouter premium pastries.
Before 11 a.m., guests are able to enjoy a selection of breakfast foods like yogurt, fresh fruits and pastries. After 11 a.m., an assortment of salads, sandwiches, cheeses and more will be available.
And as the Café caters to Air Canada’s premium customers and business travellers, it also offers complimentary Wi-Fi and access to over 7,000 digital newspapers and magazines in partnership with PressReader.
“We want to be best in class in customer experience for our customers, it doesn’t matter segment you’re in – Premium, Economy or Premium Economy,” said Yiu. “We’re spending a lot of time developing training for our frontline staff to help us deliver the product. We can always get better and we always strive for consistency.”
Added Winter: “A lot of our investments in the last few years have focused on the premium segment, like the Signature Suite, the BMW service, our Maple Leaf Lounges and now this Café. But we’re also starting to focus a lot more on other segments with our Skyriders program and a massive review of our Economy class experience, which you’ll probably hear more about going forward. We’re really looking into every segment in the customer journey to see how we can get a product that’s ultimately the best in North America.”
The Air Canada Café is located at gate D20 and is open seven days a week. To view a video tour go to https://vimeo.com/356452863.