As Canada’s largest airline, Air Canada offers the most direct routes from its four main Canadian hubs to destinations all over the world.
On long-haul routes, as well as on some domestic and transborder routes, Air Canada offers its Signature Class service. Signature Class differentiates itself from Air Canada’s other business class products by offering a lie-flat seat, premium food and beverage options, and a heightened experience from check-in to arrival.
For the purposes of this guide, we’ll be describing Air Canada Signature Class and not the standard business class; however, we’ll mostly refer to it as business class for reasons of parsimony.
In this guide, we’ll look at everything that Air Canada business class has to offer, including an overview of the experience, routes, and some tips and tricks for maximizing your experience. Of course, we’ll also do a deep dive in how to book Air Canada business class at a steep discount, by leveraging Miles & Points to your advantage.
The Air Canada Business Class Experience
While Air Canada has offered lie-flat seats on long-haul flights for quite a while, it debuted its latest iteration of business class in 2018. The redesigned premium product offers a tailored end-to-end experience, including priority services at every step along the way and an increasingly unique ground experience.
The business class product has been further refined since its debut, with the addition of Air Canada Signature Suite lounges and a ground transfer service at specific airports. Many would argue that Air Canada business class is the best premium offering from a North American airline.
Let’s have a look at what you can expect when flying Air Canada business class.
The Air Canada business class experience begins as soon as you arrive at the airport. In major hubs, such as Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary, eligible passengers enjoy an expedited check-in and security experience with separate priority lines.
Once through security, you’ll have access to an Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, where you can relax, enjoy some food, sip on a drink, or get some work done before your flight. In some Maple Leaf Lounges, there are showers, so you can freshen up before your flight.
If you’re catching a domestic business class flight in Toronto, be sure to check out the Air Canada Café. This unique lounge concept offers barista-made coffee, fresh pressed juices, and numerous grab-and-go food options.
If you booked Air Canada business class on a paid fare, or if you booked on a Business Class (Flexible) fare using Aeroplan points, you’ll also enjoy a heightened experience at the Air Canada Signature Suite in Toronto or Vancouver.
These exclusive lounges, only available to passengers on international departures, offer premium food designed by chef David Hawksworth on an à la carte menu, as well as upscale beverages, such as Moët & Chandon Champagne.
Furthermore, in Toronto and Vancouver, passengers connecting to an international flight on paid business class fares or Business Class (Flexible) Aeroplan tickets may be eligible for a chauffeured ground transfer in a Porsche. A member of Air Canada’s concierge team will greet you at the gate upon arrival, and escort you down to your Porsche.
You’ll then be driven across the tarmac to the international departures terminal, where you can enjoy access to the Signature Suite at your leisure.
Air Canada is the only North American airline to offer such a ground transfer service. There’s no way to arrange for it in advance, though, so your best bet is to book an eligible fare and keep your fingers crossed.
When it comes time to board your busines class flight, you’ll be amongst the first to board the aircraft with Air Canada’s “zone”-based boarding system. Passengers in business class are in Zone 1, which means that they may board the aircraft either before everyone else or at their leisure through a dedicated lane.
Air Canada offers business class on different types of aircraft, but the seat is largely the same across all of them. Your spacious lie-flat pod awaits, and you can acquaint yourself with the seat’s many features as you settle in before the plane takes off.
Using the touch screen, you can adjust the seat as you wish. The seat can be manipulated into many different positions, which is made more comfortable with the provided pillow and bedding.
There is ample storage space at your disposal, including USB ports and power outlets, so both you and your devices arrive fully charged.
When it comes times to rest, you’ll enjoy a fully reclined bed. You can be sure to have a good rest, and you’ll wake up refreshed and ready to explore your destination.
Food & Drink
When flying in Air Canada business class, you can expect some delicious cuisine, including options designed by chefs David Hawksworth, Antonio Park, Jérôme Ferrer, and Vikram Vij. The offerings change frequently, but you can expect a three-course meal with several options.
For example, main course options for dinner service may include lamb sirloin, chicken breast, roasted salmon, or mushroom ravioli. There will always be a vegetarian option in business class, as well as suggested wine pairings under each menu item.
If you’re flying Air Canada business class during the morning, you can expect to have the ubiquitous parsley omelette as one of your options.
As per drink offerings, Air Canada’s Sommelier, Véronique Rivest, has curated the wine offerings on board your flight. You can peruse the menu to select your preferred drink, which usually includes a host of Canadian and international wines.
Air Canada has partnered with Lavazza to offer freshly-brewed espressos and cappuccinos in business class. There’s no better way to greet your jet-lagged day than waking up to a warm, frothy beverage.
Air Canada Business Class Aircraft Cabins
Air Canada offers its Signature Class business class product on five different aircraft: the Boeing 777-300ER, the Boeing 777-200LR, the Boeing Dreamliner 787-9, the Boeing Dreamliner 787-8, and the Airbus A330-300.
The business class cabin on the Boeing 777-300ER and one version of the Boeing 777-200LR features a larger cabin at the front of the aircraft, and a smaller cabin in between the front cabin and the premium economy cabin. The 40 reverse herringbone seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration across 10 rows.
Another version of the Boeing 777-300ER features a single business class cabin, with 28 seats spread out across seven rows.
You can’t go wrong with any of the window seats, as you’ll enjoy both a view and direct aisle access. Solo travellers are best served by any window seat, with the letters “A” or “K” after the row number.
Seats 1A and 1K have some additional leg room in the footwell, which can be a nice perk for long-haul flights.
In the forward cabin, Seats 7A and 7K afford you some additional privacy, as there aren’t any passengers seated behind you. In the rearward cabin, Seats 9A and 9K have a bulkhead in front of them, as well as three windows.
Passengers travelling in pairs can choose to go with middle seats with the letters “D” or “G” after the row number. The divider in between the seats cannot be lowered, though, so some passengers prefer sitting in front of each other at window seats instead.
Seats 8D and 8G in the rearward cabin are a private choice, as there aren’t any window seats on either side.
While the business class seats are largely the same, the seats on the 777s afford you the most real estate by a slight margin.
Boeing Dreamliner 787-9
Of the two versions of the Dreamliner in Air Canada’s fleet, the 787-9 is the larger of the two. The business class cabin features 30 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration spread across eight rows.
Since there’s a single cabin, there aren’t too many differences between the seat options. Avoid Seats 5A and 5K, though, as they are missing windows.
Again, solo travellers are best suited to any window seat, marked with the letters “A” or “K” after the row number. Seats 8A and 8K have additional privacy, as there aren’t any passengers seated behind you.
For passengers travelling in pairs, the divider in the middle seats doesn’t move down. So, you can either choose inward-facing seats with the letters “D” or “G” next to the row number, or sit in front of each other at a window seat.
Boeing Dreamliner 787-8
The smaller of the two Dreamliner versions, the 787-8 has a single cabin of 20 business class seats spread out over five rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Again, most of the seats in this cabin are equal. The seats at the front of the cabin are closest the the galley, so you may experience some noise pollution during meal service.
For solo travellers, any window seat in Rows 1–4 is the best choice. Seats 5A and 5K are missing windows, so although they’re tucked away at the back of the aircraft and offer more privacy, you won’t have a view at all.
For couples, Seats 5D and 5G are the most private, as there aren’t any seats behind them. Again, though, the divider in the middle doesn’t lower, so you may want to sit in front of each other at a window seat instead.
Air Canada operates two versions of the Airbus A330-300.
One is an antiquated business class cabin, which should be avoided, as the seats aren’t up to the modern business class standard.
There aren’t many of these left in the airline’s fleet, and if you see a 1-1-1 configuration, you’ll know it’s the old version and not the new one.
The modern Airbus A330-300 business class cabin is essentially the same as the Boeing cabins. There are 32 business class seats spread out across eight rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.
If you choose to sit in Row 8, you’ll be afforded with the most amount of privacy; however, since there aren’t any windows at these seats, you won’t be able to enjoy a view.
Otherwise, solo travellers are best suited to any window seat, denoted by the letters “A” or “K”, in Rows 1–7.
For anyone travelling in a pair, the dividers between middle seats “D” and “G” actually work on this aircraft. So, if you’d like to converse with your seat mate, you’ll be able to slide open the divider and make a toast to your business class experience.
Air Canada Business Class Routes
Air Canada offers business class on select domestic and transborder flights, as well as on most long-haul international routes. As with any airline, the aircraft operating a specific route are subject to change at any time.
For domestic travel in Canada, business class is consistently available on some flights between Air Canada’s four main hubs: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal.
Note that you’ll also be able to fly in a lie-flat seat on some positioning flights between Toronto and Montreal. At times, there are also flights between Ottawa and Vancouver with business class.
For transborder flights, business class is available on select routes between major American and Canadian hubs. There are some additional seasonal routes where business class is offered, such as to Hawaii from Vancouver or Calgary.
As long as you’re not flying with Air Canada Rouge, the vast majority of long-haul international flights will feature business class. The airline serves a host of destinations across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America, and the South Pacific.
For shorter haul international flights, such as to Sun destinations in the Caribbean, you can expect to find business class during peak travel periods. Throughout the rest of the year, when demand is much lower, you may find narrowbody aircraft instead of a widebody aircraft with business class.
It’s very easy to tell if your aircraft offers business class. On the search results, if you see three cabins (economy, premium economy, and business class) for an Air Canada flight in the search results, it will have business class.
Furthermore, under the “Business Class” column, it is clearly stated that your flight has lie-flat seats.
If you see just two classes (economy and business class), you won’t enjoy business class on that particular flight.
Furthermore, if you put on the “Aircraft type” toggle on the search results, look for 77W, 77L, 789, 788, or 333. These are all the wide body aircraft that feature business class.
How to Redeem Points for Air Canada Business Class
Air Canada’s in-house loyalty program, Aeroplan, is by and far the best platform for booking Air Canada business class with points.
In theory, you should be able to book Air Canada flights with other Star Alliance loyalty programs. The reality, though, is that Air Canada releases very little award seats to the other programs.
So, while you technically can book Air Canada flights with programs such as Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer or Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles, you’ll have a very difficult time finding award space for the flight you want.
Air Canada offers business class on flights within North America and to the three other zones on the Aeroplan chart: Atlantic zone (covering Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent), Pacific zone (covering most of Asia and the South Pacific), and South America.
For example, for select business class flights within North America, you may refer to the Within North America chart for pricing.
Within each distance band, you can see that the number of points required for a flight in business class varies, depending on dynamic pricing.
For example, a flight from Toronto to Calgary, which measures around 1,675 miles, should cost anywhere between 25,000 and 60,000 points in business class. Indeed, we can find space at the lower end of that spectrum:
But, we can also find pricing at or above the top end of the dynamic spectrum for the same flight on a different day:
The same is true of long-haul business class flights.
For example, one of Aeroplan’s best sweet spots is flying between Vancouver and Tokyo for only 55,000 Aeroplan points in Air Canada business class. While it’s possible to find award space at that price (which can actually be cheaper than booking in economy):
The same flight on a different day costs nearly four times as much:
Be sure to become acquainted with the Aeroplan Flight Reward Chart to know if the price you see for an Air Canada business class flight is a good deal or not. If it’s at the higher end of the dynamic spectrum, look to partner airlines for booking business class at a lower, fixed price.
For some people, the convenience of a direct flight outweighs the savings that can be found with partner airlines. Even if a business class flight costs more, some passengers will ultimately value convenience over cost.
Luckily, Aeroplan points are very easy to come by. There are many Aeroplan co-branded credit cards, with which you can earn points through welcome bonuses and on your daily spending.
These include 11 co-branded credit cards in Canada, as well as the Chase Aeroplan Card in the United States.
115,000 Aeroplan points
Up to 125,000 Aeroplan points
120,000 Aeroplan points
Up to 50,000 Aeroplan points
55,000 Aeroplan points
Up to 70,000 Aeroplan points
45,000 Aeroplan points
90,000 Aeroplan points
60,000 Aeroplan points
10,000 Aeroplan points
Aeroplan is also a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards. You can instantly transfer Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio.
100,000 MR points
70,000 MR points
90,000 MR points
75,000 MR points
Up to 77,000 MR points
30,000 MR points
Aeroplan has also created partnerships with many stores and services, such as Starbucks, Uber, and the LCBO. When you present your Aeroplan card, you can earn extra points on top of what you’d earn with your credit card.
The Aeroplan eStore is a shopping portal where you can earn extra points just for signing in through the portal before you shop online.
Aeroplan frequently has sales, in which you can buy Aeroplan points at a discount or with a bonus, as compared to the regular price.
As a last resort, you can also top up your Aeroplan account by transferring points from Marriott Bonvoy. 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points will result in 25,000 Aeroplan points.
Air Canada Business Class Award Availability
When using Aeroplan, you have access to any unsold seat with Air Canada. As long as someone can pay cash for the seat, you can pay for it with Aeroplan points.
While you technically have access to any unsold business class seat with Air Canada, you’re also at the mercy of dynamic pricing. Generally speaking, if you find a seat at the lower end of the dynamic spectrum, it’s a good deal, and if you find a seat at the higher end of the dynamic spectrum, it’s not such a great deal.
Air Canada doesn’t release many award seats to other loyalty programs. If you happen to have points with another Star Alliance loyalty program and can find Air Canada business class space, it could be an excellent deal, and you should book it right away.
Tips & Tricks for Air Canada Business Class
While booking Air Canada business class at the lower end of the dynamic spectrum can be a bit cumbersome, it’s not impossible. Luckily, there are a few considerations that you can take to help stretch your points even further.
Generally speaking, you can give yourself the best chances of scoring a business Class flight at the lower end of the dynamic spectrum by booking far in advance. Air Canada releases award seats to Aeroplan 360 days in advance.
If you are able to plan that far ahead, you will very likely be able to find an award seat with Air Canada business class at an attractive rate.
Due to the nature of dynamic pricing, the price may fluctuate over the course of year. Indeed, we’ve seen the cost of a flight vary from day to day, or even from hour to hour.
If you can’t find a flight price that is palatable, be sure to monitor the pricing, as it may drop to a more reasonable level.
If you have Aeroplan Elite Status or a co-branded credit card, you can benefit from preferred pricing on Air Canada flights. What this means is that someone who neither has status nor an Aeroplan credit card will pay more for the same flight.
For example, someone without status or a credit card may pay 82,600 Aeroplan points for a business class flight from Toronto to Vancouver…
…whereas someone with Aeroplan Elite Status and a co-branded credit card will pay 64,900 Aeroplan points for the same flight.
Saving almost 20,000 Aeroplan points for the same flight isn’t insignificant, even when the pricing for the flight to begin with isn’t great. So, if you’re the type of traveller who absolutely has to book a particular flight on a particular day, having Aeroplan Elite Status and/or a co-branded credit card can often result in savings.
eUpgrades and the “Latitude Attitude”
If you have earned Aeroplan Elite Status, arguably the best way to book Air Canada business class is by leveraging your eUpgrades. With eUpgrades, you can book a flight in economy and then upgrade to busniess class either instantly or via a waitlist.
This particular approach can be an excellent way to bypass the nasty effects of dynamic pricing. For example, suppose that you’d like to fly from Toronto to London in Air Canada business class, and you’d like to book with points.
Booking in business class to begin with would cost you 214,000 Aeroplan points.
However, booking an Economy (Latitude) fare and applying eUpgrades would bring the cost down to 65,000 Aeroplan points for the same flight.
Properly applying the “Latitude Attitude” requires a fair bit of background reading, so refer to our many guides on eUpgrades if you’d like to learn about this further.
Air Canada business class is the airline’s premium offering. You can expect an elevated experience from check-in to arrival, complete with priority services, curated food and drink offerings, a comfortable lie-flat seat.
What’s even better is that you can book Air Canada business class with points. This includes unlocking the most premium ground services, such as access to the Air Canada Signature Suite and a Porsche ground transfer.
With a dedicated Miles & Points strategy, you’ll soon find yourself on a direct flight with Air Canada to one of its many destinations in a very comfortable fashion. As the airline fully restores its pre-pandemic service, we can only expect the business class offering to improve.
This post provides some great insights into Air Canada’s business class offering. It’s a reminder that there are different levels of service and amenities available, and it’s important to know what you’re getting for your money. The detailed analysis and comparison to other airlines is very helpful.