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Published June 7, 2024
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5 minutes

The Guide to Air Canada Premium Economy

Not quite business class but a step above the standard fare, Air Canada’s premium economy elevates the air travel experience with comfort-oriented perks.

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In the world of air travel, extra amenities can make a difference, especially on long-haul flights. Air Canada’s premium economy offers larger seats, priority airport services and free food and drink, but it also comes with a heftier price tag than standard economy. Are the benefits worth the cost? That depends on the traveller.

Air Canada premium economy features

An Air Canada premium economy ticket comes with upgraded amenities that span the travel experience from airport check-in to baggage collection.      

Seats

The seats in Air Canada premium economy are larger and offer more legroom and recline than those in standard Air Canada economy. 

Seat width

Depending on the plane, premium economy seat widths range from 45.7 cm (18 inches) to 50.8 cm (20 inches), compared to standard economy seat widths which range from 43.2 cm (17 inches) to 48.01 cm (19 inches).

Legroom

Seat pitch is the distance from any point on one seat to the same point on the seat in front or behind it — essentially, a measure of legroom. The premium economy seat pitch on Air Canada flights is 96.5 cm (38 inches), while the standard economy seat pitch ranges from 73.6 cm (29 inches) to 81.3 cm (32 inches).

Image credit: Air Canada. Source: Air Canada Premium Economy Cabin

Recline

The seats in Air Canada’s premium economy cabin offer 17.8 cm (7 inches) of recline, compared to the 7.6 cm (3 inches) to 15.2 cm (6 inches) of recline available on standard economy seats.

Food and drink

Passengers receive complimentary food and beverages when they fly premium economy with Air Canada. Special meals, including vegetarian, vegan, kosher, halal, children’s meals and more are available upon request. 

Flights within North America

Premium economy airfare on flights within North America includes a complimentary meal box with a preselected meal and snack item from the Air Canada Bistro. Water bottles are given before departure, and complimentary wine, coffee, tea and soft drinks are available. 

Flights departing North America

For international flights travelling beyond North America, premium economy flyers receive a pre-packaged cold meal box that includes a main course, side salad, bread roll and dessert. Additionally, a light meal is served prior to landing. Some flights may serve a mid-flight cold sandwich. 

Passengers may be able to check the menu for their flight on the Air Canada website within one week of departure. As an example, premium economy passengers on the Air Canada flight from Toronto to London in May 2024 got celeriac salad, a chicken or beef entree, a carrot cake dessert and a chicken salad sandwich.

As with domestic flights, complimentary water bottles and bar service, including wine, coffee, tea and soft drinks, are offered.

DID YOU KNOW? Air Canada does not categorize flights to the Caribbean and Central America as flights departing North America. Premium economy passengers on these flights may receive complimentary food and drink typically provided on Air Canada flights within North America or may be offered select food and beverage items to purchase.

Flights under two hours

Bar service and a bar snack are offered to Air Canada premium economy passengers on flights under two hours.

Priority airport services

A premium economy ticket with Air Canada includes priority airport services to enhance your travel experience. 

Priority check-in is available via a dedicated counter to help expedite the flight check-in process. Priority boarding in zones 1 or 2 offer dedicated lanes for quicker boarding. Priority baggage handling includes special tags for checked bags to ensure they are among the first to arrive on the baggage carousel at the destination airport. 

Free checked bags 

An Air Canada premium economy ticket includes two free checked bags — a potential value of up to $175 per one way of travel.   

In-flight amenities 

A seat in Air Canada’s premium economy comes with several in-flight amenities: 

Does Air Canada premium economy come with airport lounge access? 

Air Canada premium economy does not offer complimentary airport lounge access. Many airlines require flyers to hold business or first-class tickets to access airport lounges, though there are a few exceptions. Some airlines, including Japan Airlines and Air Astana, offer airport lounge access for premium economy flyers.

Air Canada economy vs premium economy 

Air Canada’s premium economy offers several benefits over its standard fare.

EconomyPremium economy
Seat width43.2 to 48.01 cm.45.7 to 50.8 cm.
Seat recline7.6 to 15.2 cm.17.8 cm.
Legroom73.6 to 81.3 cm.96.5 cm.
Food and drinkComplimentary water, coffee, tea, soft drinks and bar snacks. Meals available for a fee. Complimentary snacks, meals, water, coffee, tea, soft drinks and wine.
In-flight amenities
  • Personal touch-screen TV.

  • In-seat power.

  • Individual reading light.

  • Pillow and blanket.*

  • Personal touch-screen TV.

  • In-seat power.

  • Individual reading light.

  • Pillow and blanket.

  • CleanCare+ kit.

  • Amenity kit.*
  • Airport servicesN/A.
  • Two free checked bags.

  • Priority check-in.

  • Priority boarding.

  • Priority baggage handling.
  • *Complimentary on international flights.

    Is Air Canada’s premium economy worth it?

    The perks of premium economy come at a higher cost. Whether or not springing for premium fare is worthwhile will depend on your lifestyle and budget.

    NerdWallet Canada investigated one-way domestic and international Air Canada flights departing August 2024. Here are the price differences between economy and premium economy:

    For the Air Canada flights we researched, premium economy fares were, on average, 68% more expensive than standard economy.

    How to book Air Canada premium economy with Aeroplan points

    Air Canada’s rewards program, Aeroplan, lets collectors earn points on eligible purchases. Aeroplan points can be redeemed for a bevy of rewards, including airfare, hotel stays, car rentals and more through the Air Canada website and mobile app. 

    An Aeroplan credit card may come in handy for those who want to accelerate their point accumulation. These credit cards allow cardholders to double down on points earned when they transact at Aeroplan program partners like Uber Eats, the LCBO and Starbucks.

    There’s no shortage of Aeroplan credit cards on the market, from no- and low-fee options like the CIBC Aeroplan® Visa Card and TD® Aeroplan® Visa Platinum* Card to premium-tier options like the American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card and TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Credit Card. The ideal credit card for your finances will depend on your budget, spending habits and lifestyle.

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