Is it Worth Avoiding Economy Class in the Air Canada Boeing 777-300 ER High Density Configuration?
Air Canada offers a substantial fleet of international wide body carriers. I recently had the pleasure of experiencing their Boeing 777-300 ER High Density aircraft in economy class, which permits the carrier to transport 448 passengers in wide body economies of scale. How was my first experience as a tall business traveller cramped in to the back of their economy seat?
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Is it Worth Avoiding Economy Class in the Air Canada Boeing 777-300ER High Density Configuration ?
I recently had the pleasure of travelling on my usual route on Air Canada between Vancouver and Toronto.
I travel this route quite regularly. Usually I’m pretty diligent about making sure what aircraft I’m booked on. However, today’s flight I was not paying my usual attention to my travel reservations and inadvertently booked myself on the Air Canada Boeing 777-300ER “High Density” Aircraft.
The Air Canada Boeing 777-300 ER High Density:
Air Canada currently offers a variety of wide body aircraft. Currently, Air Canada has in its fleet the Boeing 777-200, Boeing 777-300 ER, Boeing 787-8 / Boeing 787-9, the odd Boeing 767-300 ER in addition to an Airbus 330-300 model.
The Air Canada Boeing 777-300 ER is Air Canada’s largest capacity aircraft. There are two versions of this aircraft. The most dense version seats a staggering 396 in economy class, 24 in premium economy and 28 flat bed seats in business class. This totals 448 passengers.
Air Canada’s next largest aircraft is the other version of the Boeing 777-300ER offers 336 economy class seats, 24 premium economy seats and 40 business class seats for a total of 400 total passengers. While it is somewhat similar, the lighter version has 48 less economy class seats.
The Air Canada Boeing 777-300 ER High Density features an economy class configuration of 10 across in the back. This is split into a 3 – 4 – 3 configuration as seen on the diagram featured on the left.
By contrast on the right, it is an Air Canada Boeing 767-300 ER which features a more comfortable passenger oriented 2 – 3 – 2 configuration. Despite it’s older reliability, it’s a passenger plane since almost 85% of the plane has either a window or aisle seat.
It’s worth noting that some other carriers such as British Airways and Cathay Pacific offer a 3 -3 -3 across economy class configuration on their Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft. If you are able to do a little research it may allow for a much more comfortable flight.
Booking my Flight:
Usually, I am pretty good at paying attention to my bookings. However, as a result of less travel due to the pandemic, perhaps I am out of practice.
When booking a flight on Air Canada through their website, it’s not always easy to tell what aircraft you are on, unless you do a little investigative digging. In my case, I was booking through a work travel portal that linked into Concour. I typically check the air Canada website, book on the company portal, although admittedly, I didn’t bother to check this flight booking in advance.
The Air Canada website displays flights as follows, with a tiny “details” hyperlink that will lead you to a pop up window that will provide information about your flight.
If you’re diligent enough to click on the details section of your flight, you’ll see the Boeing 777-300 ER flight. If comfort is important to you, you’ll likely want to take note of what aircraft you happen to be flying on.
Flying the Air Canada Boeing 777-300 ER High Density:
I had flown the Air Canada Boeing 777-300 ER several times in business class, including recently on Air Canada Signature Business Class Vancouver – Toronto. When it came time for my flight on the Air Canada Boeing 777-300ER in economy, it would be my first time riding in the back of this particular high density aircraft configuration.
I boarded with Boarding Group Two courtesy of Air Canada Aeroplan elite status. The plane was pretty empty in economy class since all the business travellers were boarding with Group 1, and there were very few headed to the back of the plane for economy class.
After boarding, I passed through the Air Canada Premium Economy section. The Air Canada Premium Economy Section is set up in a 2 -4 -2 configuration. Even this seemed a little tight.
I eventually located my economy class seat in row 33A. Settling into the seat itself, as my first time in the Air Canada economy class section on the high density, it felt pretty compact within moments of arriving on the plane. I didn’t even have any other passengers around me and I was already noticing how compact it was.
Settling into the seat row itself, it was tight in leg room but also in seat room. As a six foot 2 inch traveller, I certainly found it snug within seconds of sitting down.
As wedged my tail into Seat 33A, I was a bit cramped up against the window. While I had a view on the way to Toronto, I painted myself into a bit of a corner without the ability to get out to stretch my legs.
I didn’t really relish sitting in this seat for four hours and fifteen minutes while on the way to Toronto. I couldn’t hardly imagine it flying on a longer journey like Vancouver – London or Vancouver – Hong Kong.
There wasn’t a lot of leg room while I was seated in the seat. While there was some aspirational photographs of Toronto as my destination, it certainly wasn’t enough to take my mind away from my seating arrangements.
There was in seat power between seats A and B. The position was a little awkward and really inconvenient if you were planning on charging a device while you were getting out of your seat.
I was able to slightly distract myself from this uncomfortable plight that I found myself in by watching some of the free entertainment on demand. At the very least, as a long haul aircraft, there were a lot of options to keep you distracted.
Ultimately, I couldn’t wait for this flight to be over.
I found this configuration to be way too tight and compact for my liking. Without any real ability to move your legs around and stretch them out, this seat configuration is a real cramped one for sure. Even a movie wasn’t able to keep me engaged…
I made myself a note that the Air Canada Boeing 777-300 ER High Density in economy was a “once and done” type of aircraft. For a tall traveller like myself, the configuration was just too tight on my seat and knees for any degree of reasonable comfort.
On the chance that you find yourself stuck taking this aircraft, my best mitigation recommendation would be to get yourself an aisle seat. At the very least, you’ll be able to get up and walk around.
My Thoughts on the Air Canada B777-300 ER High Density:
I accidentally found myself travelling on the Air Canada Boeing 777-300 ER High Density. This was a miserable aircraft to travel on and the available seating room was far to limited to be comfortable or enjoyable. Despite me only travelling a short distance between Vancouver and Toronto, these four hours was unpleasant enough that I couldn’t imagine taking a longer journey on this aircraft while seated in economy. If you’re a tall traveller, I would recommend avoiding the Air Canada Boeing 777-300 ER High Density at all costs.
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It was less than comfortable, I’d have to say!
Thanks for reading W Ho.
I flew recently on this kind of aircraft to Dubai and Doha from Toronto and it is the most cramped seats I ever found. Like the author is over 6 Ft, I am 5.5Ft and still felt like motion less through out the time. 3-3-3 config will be better. Next time I will pay more attention to it or paid more move on to the next class. Even the premium economy is 2-4-2 and don’t think it is not much better for the price!
There is no question that these seats are compact; let alone for a 10+ hour flight from North American to the Middle East. Unfortunately, while you get a great personal seat back monitor, it’s buyer beware for the configuration, which is very tight.
Thanks for reading and commenting Shaji Varghese