Happy New Year folks! I spent a good part of my holidays in United Arab Emirates and brought in the new year in Dubai. Few months ago, I stumbled upon Air Canada’s premium economy fare that was cheaper than economy, and the prospect of trying a new cabin class seemed exciting enough for me to book my trip. After an underwhelming experience with Delta’s Comfort+ earlier, I was apprehensive but also cautiously optimistic given that it was Air Canada. Here’s my Air Canada premium economy review;

Flt AC 56 Toronto (YYZ) – Dubai (DXB)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300
Duration: 13hr 05min
Seat: 13D (Premium Economy, Aisle)

Air Canada Premium Economy benefits:

  • Extra Legroom, Better Seats
    • Pitch: 37 inches vs 31 inches
    • Width: 20 inches vs 17 inches
    • Recline: 8 inches vs 6 inches
  • Zone 2 Priority Boarding
  • Amenity kit

 CHECK-IN AND BOARDING:

A few days prior to check-in, I received an email from Air Canada inviting a bid for an upgrade from Premium Economy to Business. Unfortunately, my low-ball bid of $500 from YYZ-DXB did not go through and I was all set to experience the Premium Economy cabin class service.

Priority check-in and Zone 2 boarding ensured a seamless and hassle free experience.  I boarded early and was able to take some quick pictures before the floodgates opened.  Premium Economy cabin is a 2-4-2 configuration and I was seated in an aisle seat of the middle section. Normally I prefer window seats but there were none available at the time of booking, so aisle it was! All 24 seats were occupied and the cabin space seemed tighter than I had expected.

Air Canada Premium Economy review

SEATS AND AMENITIES

Each seat in the cabin already had a bottle of water, pillow, amenity kit, headphones and a blanket placed before boarding.

Air Canada Premium Economy review

Premium Economy seats with comfortable headrests with tray table stowed in the arm rest

With a seat pitch of 37 inches, there was plenty of knee and leg room to stretch out (also, I am 5’8). I like to sit with my legs stretched and crossed over. Unfortunately the big metal portion under the seat in front, ran into the leg room and made it impossible for me to stretch and cross my legs- significant design flaw? Each seat also came equipped with individual power outlet, USB slot and a remote control embedded in front seat.

 

Air Canada Premium Economy review

Design Flaw? The metal bar that intrudes a full leg cross over

Air Canada Premium Economy review

The leg rest was comfy and spacious

The seats were equipped with a 10.4 inch touch screen tv and an extensive library of entertainment options. The display was crisp and the touch screen was sleek and responsive.

Air Canada Premium Economy review

Seat 13 D entertainment unit

The amenity kit for Premium Economy cabin was fairly standard and included an eye mask, socks, dental kit and ear buds.

Air Canada Premium Economy review

Air Canada premium economy amenity kit

 

Flight Service

Unfortunately, with active ice rain in the area, de-icing co-ordination between runway and aircraft were in full swing. And despite having the largest central de-icing facility in the world, we sat at the gate for 2.5 hours before heading to the de-icing station and onto the runway.

The cabin crew came around to collect our food orders and maintained a frequent service of water during the delay. 3 hours from scheduled departure we finally took flight and the crew did a stellar job in expediting food service. As soon as we reached cruising altitude and the seat belt signs were switched off, a hot towel service was followed by drinks and meals. The menu in the seat pocket was well presented and I had requested for the vegetarian option as my main course.

Air Canada Premium Economy review

Menu in English and French

 

Air Canada Premium Economy review

Reverse: Menu in Arabic

My main course of curried chickpea and roasted vegetables was scrumptious, the salad tasted fresh and the brownie for dessert hit the right note.

Air Canada Premium Economy review

Flight Meal – Main course with side salad and dessert

I am the guy that can sleep long hours on a flight regardless of the cabin or seat configuration. The premium economy seats offered the right amount of recline and leg room to rest. I managed to sleep a good 9 hours 🙂 (on-and-off ofcourse), enough to miss the snack service and woke up when the crew was preparing for breakfast service. I noticed that the crew had left a sandwich and biscuits on my tray table while I was asleep.

 

Air Canada Premium Economy review

In flight snack – Sandwich and biscuits

 

Curiously, breakfast was served in plastic tray, containers and plastic cutlery. And unfortunately the omelette had a strong “flight meal” smell, looked unappetizing and was left untouched. The bread roll and the fruits however, were quite nice 🙂

 

Air Canada Premium Economy review

Breakfast, unfortunately served in all things plastic!

 

Soon after breakfast service was wrapped up, we were set to land in Dubai with the flight was on its last few miles. Just before landing, the crew came around with “Express Immigration” cards for premium economy cabin passengers. I was pleasantly surprised  since it is not a standard perk. Its best to assume that it was their way of compensating for the 3 hour delay. Whatever the reason, I was glad to have it – the immigration area was a sea of disorganized crowd. The express immigration line definitely saved me an hour or more.

Take Away

Air Canada premium economy is a solid product and I would definitely recommend it for passengers that pre-dominantly fly coach. Given a right price-point, its great value to the additional cost and the seat comfort is a few notches better than regular economy seats. My overall experience was much better than the Delta Comfort+ (Delta’s premium economy product) I flew earlier in the year.

Have you flown Air Canada’s premium economy products? Please share your thoughts with a comment below. 

Photo Credit (Featured Image): Air Canada media centre