Air Canada has joined the ever growing global family of 787-9 operators and, while I generally love the Dreamliner as a passenger, I’m a little bit scared of the Air Canada layout, especially in the back of the aircraft.
The carrier has 298 seats on board across three cabins, one of the highest seat counts on the type. Up front are 30 business class seats in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone/pod layout. Just behind the second doors sits the three rows of premium economy with a 2-3-2 layout and 38 inches of pitch. Those two sections look reasonably nice.
And then comes the economy class cabin. All 29 rows of it. By comparison United has only 24 rows of coach (including 10 of Economy Plus), but also more business class and no premium economy. Air Canada has an extra row in the last section of the aircraft compared to United, and that part on United is all regular economy already. The Air Canada layout looks much more like LCC Scoot or the ANA domestic configuration than that of a customer-focused, long haul carrier.
Maybe that’s just the way things are now. Air Canada is not alone in offering 30-31″ pitch and 9-abreast on the 787. Etihad, Air New Zealand and Virgin Atlantic all have similar layouts. And clearly the trend in the industry is to cram more passengers into the planes; that’s happening nearly everywhere. The 9-abreast 787 layouts are narrower than prior generation aircraft configs and that’s not much fun. Doing it without any additional legroom makes for a much less pleasant flight. And considering that the primary alternative on Air Canada is the 10-abreast 77W, also with tight pitch, it is hard to be too excited about flying with them these days, a far cry from just a few years ago when I was happy to be flying on an Air Canada 767 across the Atlantic.
I suppose it could be worse, though. At least the regular Air Canada planes have AVOD at each seat to distract from the squeeze; the Rouge planes don’t even have that.
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