Air Canada to retrofit long-haul B777s again

11 Jun 2015 by GrahamSmith

Air Canada will add the business class, premium economy and economy seating found on its Dreamliner to 25 B777-300ER and B777-200LRs from the "fourth quarter" of this year.

The carrier will also be retrofitting its two three-class international B777-300ERs, which entered service in March last year, and so already feature seating that is relatively new. Completion is expected for the "second half of 2016", said the airline.

Robert Atkinson, Air Canada's general manager UK, Ireland and Northern Europe, said: "We continue to invest in and modernise our international fleet, introducing new B787 and B777 aircraft.

"With the conversion of our existing B777-300ER and B777-200LR aircraft, we will introduce a much desired premium economy cabin and refurbish the international business class cabins to offer our customers a new onboard product consistent with that on our new Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet."

B787 business class

B787 business class

B777 business class

B777 business class

Air Canada is currently operating its newer three-class international B777-300ERs on London-Vancouver, London-Montréal (on a seasonal basis), Vancouver-Hong Kong and Montréal-Paris.

The carrier will also reconfigure its fleet of eight A330-300s, adding a premium economy cabin, at the same time.

Atkinson said: "Air Canada's new premium economy cabin provides an attractive option for customers looking for enhanced comfort and service.

"They can benefit from a wide range of benefits including seats offering more space and comfort, premium meals with complimentary bar service as well as priority check-in and baggage delivery at the airport."

What can passengers expect?

Air Canada has three business class products at the moment. The fully-flat beds on board the B777-300ER serving London-Vancouver/Montréal are dubbed the "Studio Pod".

Seats are arranged in a forward-facing 1-2-1/2-2-2 layout across rows one to seven (A-C, D-G, H-K/A, D-G, K), with rows two, four and six configured 1-2-1. They extend to 76.6in-77.9in in length and up to 22.5 inches in width. Screens are 15.4 inches.

B787 premium economy

B787 premium economy

B777 premium economy

B777 premium economy

With the upcoming retrofit will come the arrival of the "Executive Pod" found on the B787-8. On the Dreamliner, this offers 203 cm of length when fully reclined, 20.8 inches of width and an 18-inch touchscreen.

On the B777-300ER, 24 premium economy seats run from rows 12 to 14 and are configured 2-4-2 (A-C, D-E-F-G, H-K). Width is 20 inches, while pitch is 38 inches, and recline is eight inches.

On the B787-8, there are 21 seats arranged 2-3-2, with a width of 19.5 inches, a pitch of 38 inches and a recline of seven inches.

On the three-class B777-300ERs, 398 economy seats are arranged in a tight ten-across layout 3-4-3, with 31 inches of pitch, 17 inches of width and six inches of recline. (Air Canada's two-cabin B777-300ERs have 210 economy seats arranged 3-3-3.)

On the B787-8, there are 210 economy seats (3-3-3) with an extra 0.5 inches of width, the same amount of legroom and one inch less recline.

Air Canada has not yet said what the measurements would be for the B787 products once they are retrofitted on to the B777s, but readers have complained about densely packed seat layouts on its new aircraft — its forthcoming B787-9 will have 247 seats in economy (see news, February 2015).

Look out for reviews of Air Canada’s business class Studio Pod and premium economy seats in the July/August edition of Business Traveller.

Jenny Southan

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