The Guide to Air Canada Premium Economy

Use points to get the best deal on a ticket that comes with more legroom, extra recline and a wider seat.
JT Genter
By JT Genter 
Edited by Meghan Coyle

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Air Canada operates an extensive network, flying to over 130 destinations in almost 60 countries across six continents. Whether flying to Europe or one of Air Canada's far-flung destinations, you might be wary of spending a long flight stuck in the back cabin. Enter Air Canada premium economy.

Air Canada premium economy offers:

  • More legroom.

  • A wider seat with more recline.

  • An enhanced meal experience.

  • Two free checked bags.

  • More frequent flyer points. 

But is the upgrade worth the cost? Here's a look at Air Canada's premium economy class to help you answer that question.

Air Canada premium economy seats

Each seat in Air Canada premium economy offers at least 38 inches of pitch — matching the de facto standard for premium economy seats. That provides around seven inches more of legroom compared with Air Canada's standard economy seats. The seats measure from 18 inches to 20 inches between armrests. That's just a bit larger than the 17 inches to 18 inches width in Air Canada economy.

(Photo courtesy of Air Canada)

Air Canada premium economy cabins are relatively small, typically consisting of three rows of seats. Rows are arranged with two seats on the window side of each aisle and three or four seats in the middle column. Those window seat pairs are ideal for couples traveling together.

Another benefit of upgrading to Air Canada premium economy is the extra seat recline. Seats recline up to seven inches to make it easier to doze off. And you can prop your feet on the footrest located under the seat in front of you.

Each Air Canada premium economy seat offers large armrests — including dual armrests between seats, which means you likely won't have to battle your neighbor for a place to rest your elbow inflight.

(Photo courtesy of Air Canada)

The in-flight entertainment screen in Air Canada premium economy measures up to 11 inches diagonally. That's not as big as the 15.6-inch screens in ANA premium economy, but it's a step up from the 9-inch screens found in Air Canada economy.

You can power up your own devices using the universal power outlet found in the center console between the seats in front of you — or under your seat if you're sitting in a bulkhead row.

Food and drink

According to Air Canada's website, for flights departing from North America, passengers will receive a pre-packaged meal box that includes a hot casserole, side salad, bread and dessert. Those on flights within North America will get a complimentary meal box that includes a pre-selected meal and a snack from the Air Canada Bistro.

Premium economy passengers can check the menu for their flight within one week of departure. To do so, enter your route, date and cabin of service at the bottom of this page. As an example, Air Canada premium economy passengers flying from Toronto to Amsterdam in early January 2023 got potato and egg salad, cappuccino cheesecake dessert and a choice of a chicken or beef main course.

On Air Canada premium economy flights over two hours, passengers get a bottle of water as a pre-departure beverage. Once in flight, travelers can choose coffee, tea, soft drinks, and individual bottles of red or white wine.

In addition to a departure and arrival meal, Air Canada premium economy passengers also get a cold sandwich as a midflight meal when crossing the Pacific and on select flights to Tel Aviv and Athens.

Amenities and other perks

  • Priority services: Air Canada premium economy passengers get priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling.

  • Two checked bags: Air Canada premium economy passengers can check two standard-sized, standard-weight bags at no additional cost.

  • Sleep set: Air Canada premium economy travelers get a packaged pillow and blanket to make the flight a bit more comfortable.

  • Amenity kit: In November 2022, Air Canada introduced new reusable tote bag amenity kits for premium economy passengers containing an eye mask, socks and dental kit.

  • Bonus points: Aeroplan members earn both Status Qualifying Miles and Aeroplan points at a rate of 125% of flight miles. That's five times what you'll earn in basic economy on international Air Canada flights.

Booking Air Canada premium economy with points and miles

Air Canada has forged partnerships with dozens of airlines. However, travelers don't have as many ways to book Air Canada premium economy with points and miles. Generally, Air Canada's Aeroplan program is the best option for booking Air Canada premium economy awards.

Air Canada's Aeroplan loyalty program uses a unique zone- and distance-based award chart. Add in Aeroplan's variable award pricing for Air Canada awards, and it's not easy to tell how much an award will cost until you search on Air Canada's website. However, you can book Air Canada premium economy flights to Europe starting at 50,000 Aeroplan points each way.

Aeroplan Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

Top off your Air Canada Aeroplan balance with 1:1 points transfers from

  1. Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  2. American Express Membership Rewards.

  3. Capital One Miles.

  4. Bilt Rewards. 

To get a pile of Aeroplan points quickly, consider signing up for the Aeroplan® Credit Card: Earn 70,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Final thoughts on Air Canada premium economy

Air Canada premium economy is quite the upgrade from economy. You'll get more legroom, extra recline, a slightly wider seat, more-elegant meals, a larger in-flight entertainment screen, priority treatment in the airport, two free checked bags and better onboard perks.

Plus, you'll earn bonus points if you buy a cash ticket. Or you can redeem your Aeroplan points for an almost-free flight in Air Canada premium economy.

(Top photo courtesy of Air Canada)

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

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