Is Air Canada Business Class Worth It?

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Is Air Canada business class worth it? It’s a question I get asked often. Admittedly, it’s a very good question, but there is no black-and-white answer. There is no doubt that business class is better than economy, but is it better enough to justify the extra cost? This is subjective based on how the traveller values the extra perks versus the extra cost.

Figuring out the extra cost part is straightforward. Putting a value on the extra perks might be more challenging. In this article, I’ll cover all the benefits of booking a business class ticket with Air Canada to help you decide if it’s worth it for you.

Air Canada business pre-departure benefits

Many frequent flyers who have flown business with multiple carriers may complain about Air Canada’s service, but the reality is that Canadians may only fly business once or twice in their lifetimes. Booking business class on Air Canada comes with more than just a better seat in the plane. You get an entire experience, including:

  • Concierge service – You get access to concierge agents who can assist you with all your flight needs. You can also find concierge agents in Maple Leaf Lounges and business class ticket counters.
  • Priority check-in – There are dedicated counters for skipping the line-up during in-person check-in. Air Canada even offers a dedicated business class check-in area at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
  • Free checked bags – Your first two checked baggage (up to 32kg) are free.
  • Priority security clearance – You can use the priority security lanes in most airports.
  • Executive lounge access – Enjoy free entry to Maple Leaf Lounges in 16 airports, plus Star Alliance partner lounges where Maple Leaf Lounge aren’t available. These lounges offer a quieter environment with superior seating compared to the general airport waiting area. They also provide working desks and complimentary food and beverages.
  • Priority boarding – Business class passengers get zone 1 boarding. Depending on the aircraft, they also get their own entrance on the bridge to the plane.
  • Priority baggage handling – Your checked baggage will have priority tags and should be among the first on the carousel.

It’s worth noting that you can enjoy many of these pre-departure benefits by holding one of the best Aeroplan credit cards in Canada. Premium co-branded credit cards like the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite also give you your first checked bag free (regardless of class), just for being a cardholder.

Higher-end Aeroplan co-branded credit cards like the American Express Aeroplan Reserve offer nearly all the airport benefits of booking business class. This includes Air Canada Priority check-in, priority boarding, free first checked baggage, and complimentary access to Maple Leaf Lounge for the cardholder when flying with Air Canada.

Air Canada Business cabin and seats

Air Canada has a wide range of aircrafts and routes, so the business class experience may vary significantly.

Air Canada signature service

If you book a business ticket on a route that offers Signature Service, you will get the best that Air Canada has to offer. Signature Class is offered on Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Boeing 777 and Airbus 330 aircrafts.

Signature Service provides a dedicated and isolated cabin for business class passengers. Each passenger has their own pod, which converts to a fully flat bed. Additionally, you will be provided with a pillow, blanket, mattress pad, amenity kit and headsets. It’s worth noting that Air Canada’s Boeing planes are newer than the Airbus 330, and the pods in Boeing aircraft are usually better.    

Business class

If you book a business class ticket on a narrow-body aircraft (with only a single aisle to walk down), you won’t have a dedicated business class cabin or lie-flat beds.
However, business class still offers better and wider seats with more legroom at the front of the plane. Business class rows have fewer seats compared to economy. For example, planes with a 3-3 seat configuration in economy will have a 2-2 seat configuration in business. You are guaranteed to have either a window or an aisle seat in any Air Canada business class seat. You can check the configuration of Air Canada’s entire fleet here.

Premium Rouge

Business class ticket booked on flights operated by Air Canada Rouge are branded Premium Rouge. The pre-flight benefits are the same as any Air Canada business class ticket. It is worth mentioning that Rouge aircrafts are on average older than Air Canada ones.

Air Canada business meals

The meals you get when flying business depend on the route, length and aircraft. Air Canada’s business meals aren’t nearly as good as other airlines, but what you get is significantly better than what you’d be served in economy. You can expect the following based on the class you’ve booked.

Air Canada signature service

For international flights in Signature Service, Air Canada offers a full meal depending on the departure time. It includes a choice of hot main dishes, an appetizer, a salad, a bread roll, cheese, crackers, and dessert. Breakfast may also be included depending on the flight’s duration and timing. Additionally, there are hot snack options available mid-flight, as well as a snack basket accessible throughout the entire flight. All beverages, including water bottles, espresso coffee, soft drinks, beer, wine, spirits, and champagne, are free. Please note that all-inclusive meal trays for flights within North America are provided for flights lasting over 2\two hours. However, there won’t be a mid-flight hot snack, and the dining menu may differ. You can find the exact menu for each flight here.

Business class & premium Rouge

For flights over 2 hours, both business class and Premium Rouge offer all-inclusive breakfast with hot meal trays served with premium tableware. Hot meal trays include a main dish, salad, bread and dessert. All drinks are free, including water bottles, espresso coffee, soft drinks and bar service (beer, wine and spirits).

Air Canada business class entertainment

The entertainment options on Air Canada flights have improved over the years. Not only are screens bigger, but quite often, movies will be available that are still in theatres or have recently ended their theatrical run. That said, the entertainment you’ll get will be different depending on the type of business class you’ve booked.

Air Canada signature service

Signature pods have 18 inches touchscreen entertainment system with a remote control. Air Canada also lends you noise-cancelling headsets, and you will have USB charging ports as well as power outlets. The in-flight entertainment selection offered by Air Canada is extensive and regularly updated, including movies, TV series, music, games, and live TV. It’s worth noting that Air Canada now offers free data texting for Aeroplan members.

Business class

The availability of in-flight entertainment will vary depending on the aircraft and route you select. Most of Air Canada’s aircraft are equipped with tv screens, although smaller regional planes may not have them. Some business class seats may have wider screens, while others will have the same as economy. In most cases, the in-flight entertainment experience in business class is very similar to that in economy class.

Premium Rouge

Rouge aircrafts are not equipped with individual screens on seats. You still have free access to the Air Canada entertainment directory, but you need to bring your laptop, tablet or phone and stream on it. Premium Rouge does offer free Wi-Fi.

How to book business class with Air Canada

In order to book a business class ticket with Air Canada, you need to go on under book and enter the desired route and date in the search engine. You will then see prices for each flight for economy, Premium Economy and Business Class.

Is Air Canada business class worth it

You can also click on “Details” to see which aircraft is scheduled for that flight and click on “Seats” to see the cabin configuration and which seats are still available. Air Canada will also add a logo to quickly identify the flights with Signature Service which includes lie-flat beds. As you can see, the price jump to business class is significant. In the example above, that’s a one-way fare you’re looking at.

Fare options

Once you click on the price, it will open a tab and you’ll need to select your fare option.

Air Canada business class

There are two fare options: Lowest and Flexible. Lowest isn’t refundable and changing your flight has a fee of $100 within North America, more for international flights. Flexible fare is refundable, includes same-day standby and has no extra fee for changes. Of course, you pay a premium for those extra perks.

How to book Air Canada business class with Aeroplan points

The process to book an Air Canada business class ticket with Aeroplan points is almost identical as booking it with cash. You just need to check the “book with Point AEROPLAN” box.

Aeroplan business class booking

The search results will then be shown in points instead of dollars. Since Aeroplan uses dynamic pricing, the number of points required for a redemption could change within hours. If you see a great price, booking it right away is sometimes worth it. You always get 24 hours to cancel without a fee, so you have some time to figure out if you want to keep the ticket.

Air Canada business class

Similar to cash fares, clicking on the price will also open on the fare tab:

Fare classes on Air Canada business class

Note that when you book with Aeroplan points, the Lowest Reward fare can be refundable but will cost $150 per person and per way.

The value of Aeroplan points

Some people will find the idea of paying for business class to be not worth it since the cost is significantly more than economy, but it is possible to fly in business for cheap with Aeroplan points. Generally, 1 Aeroplan point is worth about 2 cents. If you can get a value of 2 cents per point when redeeming your points, then you’re getting a good value. To calculate the cost per point of your redemption, you’d use the following formula:

(Cash price – taxes/fees) X 100 / Points required for redemption = CPP

Using the 6:45AM departure example from above, your formula would look like this:

($1,477 – $48) X 100 / 76,100 = 1.88 CPP

While this specific redemption isn’t the best value, it’s pretty close. 76,100 Aeroplan points is still a lot, but that’s not hard to obtain, thanks to all the generous welcome bonuses available when signing up for a new Aeroplan credit card.

Is Air Canada business class worth it?

So, is Air Canada business class worth it? Air Canada Business class is undoubtedly superior to economy, but I wouldn’t say it’s always worth the additional cost. As mentioned earlier, the experience in business class can vary significantly depending on the aircraft and route. In addition, the price difference compared to economy can also fluctuate significantly since Air Canada uses dynamic pricing.

How much a person values the benefits is also highly subjective. Some travellers exclusively book business class, while others prefer to save the extra money to spend during their trip or to afford more trips. Personally, my decision-making process is always based on value, and I sometimes find business class to be too expensive. The perks you get compared to economy or premium economy aren’t really worth the price. That said, there’s no denying that the comfort of business class is significantly better than economy

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

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