Air Canada offers mid-flight pot brownies to calm nerves
As with many airline carriers, Air Canada has had a tough couple of years, facing bankruptcy and declining flights in a troubled economy. Here in the heartland, the airline faces even more challenges as new competition stiffens at General Mitchell International Airport.
On of its biggest rivals, it claims, is Midwest Airlines, who rose in the ranks in part thanks to its scrumptious supply of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies.
It's a tough battle to wage, but Air Canada, it seems, has a plan to rebuild its empire in the high skies. Today, Air Canada announced a new plan to take its customers even higher. Literally.
The airline has raised the bar on in-flight goodies. Starting Thursday, April 1, passengers have the option of receiving two "Midwest-like cookies" or one of the new specialty pot brownies. The brownies, made with organic, fair-trade Omanhene chocolate -- a Milwaukee-based company -- contain enough medicinal-grade marijuana to keep an average adult suitably high for between two and four hours. Extremely heavy-set passengers, as well as dedicated dope heads, are encouraged to pre-smoke before boarding or pay $25.50 for a second brownie.
Capt. Gerard Russell, a veteran Air Canada pilot who initially proposed the bud-laced dessert, would not comment on his marijuana source but promised nothing but high-quality bud would be used in the THC treats.
"No schwag," he said. "My supplier has been with me since he flunked out of flight school, and he only delivers the best."
Air Canada spokesperson Nancy Hamburg says the company opted for the pot brownies after a customer survey revealed that single-serving liquor bottles and $8 cans of Molson's just weren't cutting it for those passengers who have a hard time dealing with the completely illogical and mystifying concept of human / machine air travel.
"We think it's going to do wonders for passengers with a fear of flying and who experience anxiety during turbulence," says Hamburg. "Rather than punch the 'call' button repeatedly to order a fourth gin and tonic, anxious passengers can now relax their minds with a pot brownie, listen to The Disco Biscuits on their iPod and chill the f*ck out."
Hamburg said that adding the new brownies was part of a coordinated effort to change the vibe on Air Canada flights. In addition to the regular in-flight magazine and SkyMall catalog, the airline will offer complimentary copies of High Times. The airline also will launch a promotional campaign that will feature TV and radio commercials and billboards. Peter Percapita, who developed the campaign for the Red Stag advertising agency, said that the group had secured several "national celebrities" to appear in the spots.
Percapita declined to name the celebs, but several sources at the airline indicated that Cheech and Chong, Woody Harrelson and Bill Maher have been spotted on Air Canada flights in and out of Milwaukee in recent months.
Mark Munchie, an airline industry analyst for the Crooked Stick Investment Group, said that the campaign could help Air Canada increase profits.
"It appears likely that they're going to sell a lot more of those overpriced snack boxes," he said. "And, the in-flight rentals of "BASEketball" and "Reefer Madness" are going to help the bottom line, too."
Hamburg said that the airline, which has always performed well in consumer surveys, expects an endorsement from Willie Nelson as well as NORML -- the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws.
"I didn't even know what that was," she said. "I just got the e-mail this morning. I hope they like the brownies."