Air Canada Seat Selection: What You Need to Know

Seat selection costs with Air Canada range widely. Factor in these fees if you book with the airline.
JT Genter
By JT Genter 
Latin American female traveler using her cell phone in an airplane and looking through the window

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When purchasing a flight on Air Canada — as with most airlines today — you're guaranteeing that you'll get a seat on the flight. However, you may need to pay more if you want to specify which seat you'll get to fly in. Whether you want a view out the window or want to avoid a middle seat, getting your seat selection right can make your travels more pleasant.

Here's what you need to know about Air Canada seat selection — from the fees you may have to pay to how you might be able to get extra-legroom seats for free.

How to make your Air Canada seat selection

You can pick a seat during booking or on the Air Canada website after your flight is ticketed. If you don't select a seat in advance, you can choose one from the remaining seats when checking in within 24 hours of your flight.

Note that seat selection isn't available on the website or app within two hours of departure. Within this time, you'll need to see an airport agent to pick a seat.

If you've already booked your flight, you can retrieve your booking starting from the "My Booking" tab on the Air Canada homepage. Enter your booking reference or ticket number and last name. Select "Find" to retrieve your booking, then select the "Change seats" link.

However, not all seat selections are free. If you booked a Basic or a Standard fare, you may have to pay to choose a seat in advance of check-in — even for a standard seat.

Air Canada seat selection fees

Fees to select a seat vary depending on which fare type you booked, what route you're flying, whether you want to select a preferred seat and your Aeroplan elite status level.

Air Canada standard seat selection fee

Most seats in Air Canada economy are classified as standard seats. So, these fees are what matters most if you plan to select seats in advance.

To give you an idea of what to expect, Air Canada publishes the following price ranges for standard seat selection:




All other fares

Within Canada and Canada-U.S.

$14 to $60.

$14 to $60.


Most international flights

$30 to $90.

$30 to $90.


Certain long-haul international flights

$30 to $90.



Air Canada doesn't specify which routes get complimentary standard seat selection on Standard fares. However, we generally find that standard seat selection is free on long-haul routes to certain destinations in Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

For an example of how much you'll pay, we priced an Air Canada flight from San Francisco to Vancouver. A Standard Seat selection for the nearly two-and-a-half-hour flight is $34.56 each way — regardless of whether you book a Basic or Standard fare. Note that the number is likely a result of currency conversion from Canadian dollars to U.S. dollars.

Despite being a much longer flight (almost seven hours one-way), standard seat selection on a flight from Miami to Vancouver isn't much more at $45 each way.

Upgrading to a preferred seat on the flight from Miami to Vancouver costs $96.

Air Canada preferred seat cost

Preferred seats are found in exit rows, in select bulkhead rows and in the first few rows of the cabin on some flights. That means you're either going to get extra legroom or be closer to the front of the aircraft, shortening your wait to get off the plane at your destination.

Air Canada publishes that "Preferred Seat prices range from $20 to $199 CAD/USD." That published range is too broad to be useful, so here's a look at some examples.

In the examples priced out above, preferred seats between the U.S. and Canada cost:

  • San Francisco to Vancouver: $62 each way.

  • Miami to Vancouver: $96 each way.

However, long-haul flights are where a little more space may be more critical. When looking at Air Canada flights from Los Angeles to Tokyo-Narita, with a connection in Vancouver, preferred seats on the first flight from Los Angeles to Vancouver cost $66 each way for all bulkhead and exit row seats — regardless of whether the seat is an aisle, window or middle seat. Picking a standard seat was free, seemingly as this flight is part of an international itinerary that offers free seat selection.

For the flight from Vancouver to Tokyo, all preferred seats cost $133.40 for the one-way flight. Since I picked a Standard fare, standard seats were available free of charge.

How to get Air Canada preferred seats for free

The easiest way to get preferred seats for free is by booking a Latitude or Comfort fare. Aeroplan elite travelers can also select preferred seats for free depending on their fare type and elite status level.

The following Aeroplan elite status members — and up to one traveling companion on the same reservation — will get complimentary access to preferred seats when:

  • Aeroplan Super Elite: Traveling a Flex or Standard fare, or an Aeroplan flight reward.

  • Aeroplan 75K: Traveling on a Flex or Standard fare.

  • Aeroplan 50K: Traveling on a Flex or Standard fare in Canada or between Canada and the U.S.

  • Aeroplan 25K or 35K When checking in for your flight and traveling on a Flex or Standard fare. Automatic Aeroplan 25K status is included as a perk of the Aeroplan® Credit Card, which has an annual fee of $95.

Unfortunately, Aeroplan members can't use points to purchase Air Canada preferred seats. Also, note that Star Alliance Gold elite members aren't entitled to free preferred seat selection — or even free seat standard selection — when choosing seats online.

Air Canada seat selection recapped

Air Canada seat selection ranges from free to potentially hundreds of dollars each way. That means it's important to factor these fees in when deciding whether to book with the airline.

The good news is standard seat selection is free at check-in and when flying to certain long-haul routes. Otherwise, you'll need to have elite status or book a more expensive fare type to avoid Air Canada seat selection fees.

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