Canucks, other NHL teams, miffed at not getting first-class seating on flights
'We are exploring our options': Air Canada has removed first-class seats from most of its charter fleet
VANCOUVER — Several NHL teams, including the Vancouver Canucks, will not be travelling this season in quite the style to which they have become accustomed.
All seven Canadian NHL teams and a handful of other U.S.-based teams use Air Canada's Jetz executive-class charter service to travel during the season.
The aircraft are outfitted with first-class seating throughout the cabin, or at least they were. During the recently concluded National Hockey League lockout, Air Canada reconfigured five of its six charter jets and sent them back into regular passenger service.
That leaves just one plane that is completely outfitted with first-class seats. Goodbye leg room.
The Canucks only learned last week about the changes and are not happy about them.
"We are currently exploring our options with respect to how our team will travel this year and who will be our carrier," assistant general manager Laurence Gilman said Monday.
The Canucks head out on their first road trip of the season on Thursday, a three-game swing through California, and Gilman said the team does not yet know who they will be flying with.
"That has not yet been determined," he said.
Gilman said all seven Canadian NHL teams and at least a half-dozen American NHL teams use the Air Canada charter service. So do the NBA's Toronto Raptors.
Gilman left open the possibility of the Canucks using other charter carriers this season.
"It is a private agreement that our company has executed with Air Canada," he said. "We are in discussion with them about how they will fulfill their obligations to us. At the same time we are exploring our options. That's really all I want to say about it."
When the Edmonton Oilers travelled to Vancouver for Sunday night's game against the Canucks, they got lucky. The Oilers had the one good plane for their trip west, but got a regular plane for the return trip home after their 3-2 shootout win over the Canucks.
Air Canada did not returns messages on Monday, but it apparently takes considerable time to reconfigure aircraft for executive-class charter service.
But it's not like the players will be squeezed into middle seats. Most should be able to stretch out in their own row. In economy, mind you.
The coaching staff and management will likely get first dibs on the 12 or 14 first-class seats that are on the regular aircraft.
The lack of first-class seating for all figures to be more of an inconvenience for Western-based teams, who generally have longer flights than their Eastern brethren.
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