Air Canada first attracted controversy by squeezing passengers onto its B777-300ER and it has now done the same with the B787-9 Dreamliner.
The airline last year managed to fit 458 people onto a B777-300ER aircraft (see news, February 2013), which is more than some carriers accommodate on their larger A380s.
Few airlines currently operate this stretched version of the B787. One that does is our very own Virgin Atlantic.
But whereas Virgin’s B787-9 accommodates a maximum of 264 passengers (with 31 in business, 35 in premium economy and 198 in economy), Air Canada’s B787-9 will have 298 seats with 30 in business, 21 in premium economy and 247 in economy.
As such, its B787-9 will carry more passengers than those operated by Air New Zealand and United. To view a seatplan, click here.
The biggest seat jump is in the economy cabins. Virgin Atlantic accommodates 198 passengers here, but Air Canada has squeezed in 247 seats — a hefty 49 more.
Not only are the seats configured 3-3-3 but seat pitch is either 30 or 31 inches, depending on the area of the economy cabin you occupy.
Premium economy doesn’t look too great either. Yes, you get more space (for a higher price, of course) but the small cabin doesn’t look anything special.
Business class, as might be expected, fares best of all.
Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada president and CEO, said this week: “The stretched Dreamliner has the capabilities to revolutionise long-haul travel. The operating economics of these new aircraft make certain routes feasible.”
The airline’s B787-9 is the new larger version of the original B787-8 and is primarily intended for 14-hour long-haul routes.
It will enter service next year with possible destinations in the Far East, Australia and Asia. Doubtless it will appear on some European routes in time to come.
What we know for sure is that Air Canada will use these B787-9s between Toronto and both Delhi (see news, December 8) and Dubai starting in November 2015.
In the case of Dubai, it will face stiff competion against Emirates whose A380 on the same route offers superior onboard comfort.
So it looks as though long-haul economy class travellers are going to have to accept reduced levels of comfort in the years ahead if they want to have access to cheap tickets.
Another carrier going down a similar route to Air Canada is KLM (see news, November 14)
However, one shining exception for comfort remains the A380, but a high-density version of this aircraft has already been mooted (see news, November 2013). It won’t appear anytime soon, thank goodness.