Air Canada introduces premium economy and a new high density 777 configuration

Air Canada made some interesting product announcements today, including tighter economy seating, the addition of a premium economy product, and a new business class configuration.

These new cabins will be featured on five of their brand new 777-300ER aircraft, the first of which will start flying between Montreal and Paris on July 11, 2013.

The first change is that Air Canada will be updating their ExecutiveFirst seat from the current herringbone product found on their entire longhaul fleet, to a new staggered business class, much like the ones offered by Austrian, Brussels, Swiss, etc. This new configuration will also be found on their 787 aircraft, if/when they take delivery of them.


Current ExecutiveFirst configuration


New ExecutiveFirst configuration

In addition to that they’ll also be introducing a premium economy product on their new 777-300ER aircraft, in a 2-4-2 configuration. This will come with priority check-in and boarding, as well as better onboard service including amenity kits, hot towels, better meal service, larger pillows, etc.

In terms of premium economy pricing, it seems like they’re trying to charge double as much as the entry level economy fare for it, which seems a bit high to me. Then again it’s a really small cabin at only 24 seats, so maybe as the lower fare classes sell out they’ll have no problems selling it.

The funny thing is that in the process of adding premium economy they’re also adding a seat per row in regular economy, going from a 3-3-3 configuration to a 3-4-3 configuration.

You can find the seatmap for the new 777-300ER here, and as you can see it has 458 seats, which is more seats than several airlines have on their Airbus 380. As a point of comparison American has only 304 seats on their new 777-300ERs.

The trend in the industry is certainly to add a premium economy product, so I’m hardly surprised to see Air Canada do that. However, it’s not clear from the announcement whether or not Air Canada has plans to add it to the remainder of their fleet, and I just don’t see the reasoning behind offering it on just a handful of aircraft, as it seems like the product would be much easier to market/executive if it were featured throughout their longhaul fleet.

(Tip of the hat to Shaun)

Comments

  1. says

    Ouch – that sounds tight!

    I haven’t flown AC’s current Executive First product, but this feels / looks like a serious downgrade from a personal space perspective.

    It’s also going to be REAL cozy in economy – 17″ seat width for longhauls?!?!

  2. Lantean says

    i think it’s a typo… probably 358? there is no way they can cram so many seats on a 777.

  3. lucky says

    @ Lantean — Definitely not a typo. 36 seats in ExecutiveFirst, 24 seats in premium economy, and 398 seats in economy.

  4. ffi says

    I have been on the herring bones from SYD to YVR and it was OK, mainly I felt due to direct aisle access
    A bit below UA F but above UA C
    This looks to bring the bar down further to UA C or below

  5. ffi says

    I think as Lucky has pointed out F is dying everywhere
    Biz is the new F
    Premium economy has become the new Business
    and economy is getting worse and more packed

  6. Ryan says

    3-4-3 is the new 777 trend, sadly, for Y. AA’s new -300s have it, along with reportedly a 1″ decrease to pitch. Having done 10-across on NZ’s 773, it’s not fun at all.

  7. Forest says

    AC actually posted the following on FT regarding the new J seats: “However, the seating configuration and onboard product of these new 777s will not be the same as the new standard that will be delivered in 2014 with the Boeing 787.”

  8. Mike S. says

    Terrible.

    Y class pitch goes from 32″ to 31″ !!! OUCH Super sardine class. AC is in a race to the bottom to become like Air Transat.

  9. FYD says

    I wouldn’t want to be stuck in Economy on this plane – 31′ seat pitch is tight, but the real problem is the 17′ width – a regular Airbus 320 is 20′! Let’s pray you have a supermodel or a small kid next to you!

  10. Mateo says

    Another downgrade for AC.
    The AE program has been slashed and now AC is after the cheap tourist or forced to pay more for aerolotto. Not looking forward to this change.

  11. Kai says

    Was hoping for the new US Airways style “suites”, though it’s still a step up from the herringbones.

    No plans for the A330s to get the new seats?

  12. Dov says

    @lucky AC clearly indicated that the new interior product for the 787 will not be similar to the 777 expected to be delivered this year

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