Inside a Flight Cabin Makeover

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Air Canada's interiors are always getting upgrades, a few planes at a time.

Airline cabin renovations would make for a great HGTV series. Our Air Canada cabins might get an upgrade for reasons of wear and tear, livery change, upgraded seating, cabin size adjustments or when an aircraft is purchased from another airline. These interior makeovers happen more often than you think, so don’t be surprised by that new plane smell.

April 25, 2022

When new aircraft are purchased, specifications and customized materials are sent to the manufacturer to ensure elements such as the distinctive interiors and the inflight entertainment system are incorporated to Air Canada’s standards. For older aircraft, refurbishment takes place during major maintenance checks. Installing new seats, galleys, lavatories, closets and interior walls can take between 30 and 60 days. Partial redesigns to the overseas fleet (installing lie‑flat seats) require a 15‑ to 30‑day “special visit” to a refurbishing contractor. Adding, moving or removing seats can entail adjusting side walls and overhead bins, remodelling the lavatories, changing carpets or upgrading galleys.

Astute travellers know their cabin layouts and will select flights based on personal aircraft preference – our lie‑flat seats in Business Class and Signature Class are a big draw. While there is no first class available on most North American‑based carriers, business class is a common stand‑in. Visit “Our Fleet” on the Air Canada website or see page 90 to find specs for every cabin layout.

Some recent major renos include the transitioning of narrow‑body Airbus aircraft from Air Canada mainline to Rouge, and certain Boeing 777 or Airbus A330 aircraft having all seats removed for a freighter configuration. Our A330 fleet recently got a facelift in Air Canada Signature Class, with each aircraft offline in Singapore for more than two months. When the upgrade is significant, everything is reweighed – something you don’t do for a home reno.

My Space

  • Pitch


    The distance between two successive points. For airline seating, it’s the distance between rows, measured in inches, or the space between a point on one seat and the same point on the seat in front of it.

  • Width


    The distance between the inside of the armrests. Something to think about if you have a wider beam: Economy seats range from 17 to 18 inches (43 to 46 cm), Premium buys you up to 20 inches (51 cm), and if you venture into Business Class, you can spread out in 21 inches (53 cm) or more.

  • Recline


    The angle of the seat is measured in inches or sometimes degrees. 

Take your seat

  • Air Canada offers three classes: Air Canada Signature Class (a.k.a. Business Class, code J), Premium Economy Class (PY) and Economy Class (Y). 

  • By far, the best seat in the house is the captain’s seat, rumoured to cost the price of a high‑end sports car.

  • Our widest seat configuration is 10, in the Boeing 777 Economy Class, labelled A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J and K. We don’t use seat “I” because it looks like “1.”