One question that comes up often from readers is which seats to choose on Air Canada business class routes. While the flights that feature lie-flat pods have many similarities, there are some subtle differences that you might want to consider when planning your trip.
In this post, we’ll compare and contrast the lie-flat seats on the Boeing 777, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and Airbus A330 aircraft operated by Air Canada.
What Is Air Canada Signature Class?
Air Canada’s premium business class product is known as Signature Class. The concept is to have an enhanced end-to-end experience for customers in its business class cabin.
Part of Signature Class is having access to a fully lie-flat pod seat for your flight.
Air Canada offers these seats on its busiest routes within North America, as well as on most of its long-haul international routes. Signature Class pods are offered onboard the Boeing 777, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and Airbus A330 aircraft.
In North America, you can usually find Signature Class available on the following routes:
- Toronto–Los Angeles
- Toronto–San Francisco
- Vancouver–New York
There are times when widebody aircraft are allocated to popular destinations during peak travel periods. For example, flights to Hawaii, some destinations in Florida, and other Sun destinations will often have three-cabin aircraft during peak travel periods and two-cabin aircraft at other times.
On most long-haul international routes, Air Canada offers lie-flat seats in its business class. These are most often served by the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
There are several ways to determine if the flight you’re on has a pod.
The easiest way is to look for flights that offer three classes of service. If you see economy, premium economy, and business class, you’re in luck.
You can also select the “Aircraft Type” toggle on the search results page. Here, you’re looking for 77L, 788, 789, or 333.
If you have a subscription to ExpertFlyer, the aircraft type is displayed in the search results.
In any event, recognizing the availability of lie-flat seats with Air Canada becomes part of your regular flight search over time.
The largest aircraft in this list is the Boeing 777, with 40 business class seats spread over 11 rows.
The business class cabin is split into two sections. The forward cabin has 26 seats spread across seven rows, and the rearward cabin has 14 seats spread across four rows.
The cabin is set up in a 1-2-1 formation, with the “A” and “K” seats having both window and aisle access, and the middle “D” and “G” seats with aisle access only.
For solo travellers, the “A” and “K” seats are the natural choice, as you have both a window seat and an aisle seat at the same time.
Some passengers prefer sitting toward the front of the forward cabin, as this affords them first choice on meal options. Others prefer seats somewhere in the middle, as they’re away from the light and noise from the galley.
Due to the setup of the cabin, some seats afford you more privacy than others. In the forward cabin, seats 7A and 7K offer somewhat more privacy, as there are no other passengers behind you.
In the rearward cabin, seats 9A and 9K have a bulkhead in front of them, as well as three windows for the seat. The intimacy of this smaller cabin is a plus for some, too, as on flights that aren’t sold out, it doesn’t tend to fill up.
For couples, the “D” and “G” middle seats would appear to be the ideal choice. But since the divider between the seats on the 777 doesn’t move, it makes for an awkward conversation, should you wish to converse with your significant other.
Seats 8D and 8G in the rearward cabin are a private choice, as there aren’t any window seats on either side, but otherwise, the differences between the seats aren’t remarkable.
Personally, I prefer selecting an “A” or “K” seat when I’m travelling alone or with someone else. I find it’s still easy to talk to each other, and I enjoy gazing out at the clouds while in the skies.
I also prefer the smaller mini-cabin to the busier forward cabin, even as passengers in economy and premium economy pass by when boarding.
Of the three aircraft, the Boeing 777 affords you the most real estate, with ample room in the footwell, a solid in-flight entertainment screen, and everything else you’d need for a comfortable flight.
Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Air Canada has two configurations for its Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft: the 787-8 (788) or the 787-9 (789).
The 788 is the smaller of the two, with a total of 20 seats spread out over five rows.
Most of the seats on this version are equal. As always, seats in the first row are closest to the galley, so you may get some noise pollution as the flight attendants are preparing your parsley omelette.
Seats 5A and 5K are missing windows, so although they’re tucked away at the back of the aircraft and offer more privacy, you’ll be staring at a wall for your entire flight.
For couples, seats 5D and 5G are the most private, as there aren’t any seats behind them.
The 789 has a total of 30 seats spread out over eight rows.
On this version, seats 5A and 5K are missing one of two windows. Seats 8A and 8K afford you extra privacy, without any passengers behind or beside you.
Otherwise, the remaining pods are, for all intents and purposes, comparable. The dividers between the “D” and “G” don’t slide open, so if you’re travelling with someone else, you can either choose the middle seats or two adjacent seats by the windows.
When compared to the pods on the 777, the seat width, leg room, and features are mostly the same. The in-flight entertainment screen on the Dreamliners is slightly smaller, but unless you travel with a measuring tape, you probably won’t notice the difference.
One feature I like on the Dreamliner is the larger window and the ability to dim it. It’s nice to be able to look outside throughout the flight, instead of having a shade pulled down when it gets bright.
The footwells and the side consoles in the Dreamliner are smaller than those on the 777, but you should still have enough room to sleep and stow your belongings without issue.
Air Canada has two configurations for its Airbus A330 business class seats.
One product is a trip back in time, with three rows of seats open out into the aisle instead of being angled inward. These seats aren’t ideal, so you’ll want to avoid them if it’s possible.
These seats aren’t very common, but you can easily tell if you’re flying with this by looking at the seat map. The seats are arranged in a 1-1-1 configuration, which is unique to this configuration.
The other, better version of this aircraft is very similar to the business class product available on the 777 and 787 aircraft. There are 32 seats spread out over eight rows, arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration.
The pods on the A330 have the least amount of real estate, but you’ll still have plenty of room to sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.
If you choose the seats in row 8, you won’t have anyone behind you. However, the window seats are missing in 8A and 8K.
Luckily, the dividers between seats “D” and “G” actually work in this cabin. So, if you’re travelling as a couple or with someone else with whom you’d like to interact, the middle seats are good options here.
The footwell on the updated A330 is the smallest of the three. Depending on if you’re a side-sleeper or a back-sleeper, you may have some issues with feeling comfortable when fully reclined.
Unlike the seats on the 777 or Dreamliners, there aren’t any firmness controls for the cushions. Personally, I haven’t found there to be a huge difference with these controls, but I can also see how it may bother others.
Which Seat Should You Choose?
Reviewing individual seats is a difficult task, as everyone has their own preferences when it comes to flying.
For the work I’ve done at a travel agency, I’ve seen people who have very specific seat preferences. Some people prefer bulkhead seats, while others indicate that bulkheads should be avoided at all costs.
With Air Canada’s pods, you get a consistently solid product between the 777, 787-8, 787-9, and A330 versions. Any of these seats are a vast improvement to flying in economy or premium economy.
There are, however, subtle differences between the aircraft and even within the aircraft.
For couples, flying in the middle rows on the Airbus A330 is ideal, as the divider is operable unlike on the 777 and 787. Otherwise, you can choose to fly in the middle rows or in front of each other on the window rows.
For solo travellers, the main consideration is how much privacy and how many windows you have available to you at your seat.
Personally, I’m happy with any pod. When travelling with my wife, I prefer to pick “A” or “K” seats, as we both have windows and direct aisle access. When travelling by myself, I still prefer to sit by the windows, but I’m also happy with a middle seat if the cabin is full.
After flying to Europe in economy last summer, I am infinitely more grateful for the comfort of a lie-flat seat than I was prior to the trip.
Air Canada’s business class pods offer a comfortable, reliable way to travel across the country or across the world.
I’ve flown on all of the different iterations of the pods, and find that it’s an entirely comfortable way to travel. There are some subtle differences between individual seats, but otherwise, your choice is going to be based off of your personal preferences.
Do you have a go-to seat when flying with Air Canada? What do you think about the differences between the 777, 787, and A330, or the best seats to pick when travelling solo or as a couple? Feel free to share your thoughts below.