I have flown with my boys countless of times over the past decade. You may have stumbled upon my various airplane activity posts or snack packing list posts in the past. We are so thrilled that travel is back and I recently had the opportunity to test out all of Air Canada’s classes of service with my 8-year-old in tow! Instead of just telling parents what it is like to fly on Air Canada with kids, below I am able to show them what it is like. Below you will find photos of our experiences in Signature Class with kids, Premium Economy Class with kids and Economy Class with kids.
It is important to note that travel within Canada (and North America) is different than overseas travel. Do not expect meals and blankets in Economy class. Food is typically for purchase. Blankets and pillows are typically not provided. However, there are certain things that families do get when they fly Air Canada. One is free seat selection. Canadian regulations require that children are seated with a parent. If you do not pay to chose your seats, seats together will be allocated to you (typically AFTER you purchase and maybe even the next day).
When you Arrive to the airport
DEDICATED CHECK IN:
Some airports have dedicated family check in for flights on Air Canada. While Vancouver does have it, it was closed when we checked in. Hopefully these services will be resumed to full capacity soon. Anyone who has kids knows that waiting to get rid of the luggage and waiting in slow moving lines can be tough with little ones.
Air Canada allows pre-boarding for families with children under 6. This is great for those who are traveling with a car seat and who want to get settled. Personally I now board last (unless it is really late and I just want to get on). It means the kids are sitting for less time before the aircraft takes off. Whatever your choice, I have always found the Air Canada staff to be friendly and welcoming to families.
AIR CANADA GOODIE BAG:
Air Canada typically offers goodie bags for kids. My favorite thing in the bag are the over the ear headphones. I find earbugs are almost impossible for kids under 10. My kids get very frustrated with them constantly falling out. These latest bags also had some coloring accessories and a tic tac toe game.
Air Canada Signature Class with Kids
Air Canada’s First Class cabin is called “Signature Class” and features the very popular, lay-flat seats. I first flew Signature Class a few years ago and you can read my review about what it is like here. Often times it is referred to as First Class or Business Class by passengers, but, whatever the name it is Air Canada’s highest level of service. I mention this mostly because people looking for information will often search for Air Canada business class or Air Canada first class with kids so I want to make sure I capture the information that people are looking for!
Signature Class Set up with Families is Complicated
I find that Air Canada’s first class setup is for the single traveller. Which is fine. I love the privacy of it. But it does not even really work for couples, as you cannot talk to anyone without leaving your seat. With that being said, it is doable and the comfort level is 10/10 if you are taking an overnight flight.
Where it can get complicated is with young kids. My boys are very different. Mattias is independent and happy to be solo, where Markus hates to be alone and is much more comfortable with close contact. Now that he is 8 and we had the opportunity to check out the Signature Class I would 100% do it again. But I did get up and walk over to his side about a dozen times. However when he was 5 this would have been almost impossible. And younger than that, not at all. He would not have stayed in his seat. However for Mattias when he was 5 he would have said see ya mom, and figured out how his seat worked and left me alone for hours.
We all know our kids best, that is why I mention both of mine as they are so different. If you have a snuggly kid like Markus, or one that wants to talk to you a lot, you should consider premium economy to travel as a family.
If you are looking for seat set ups on Air Canada pods with kids, I do have some helpful hints.
Option #1: THE MIDDLE SEATS SAME ROW: choose the seats in the middle of the plane, that way, there is just a small partition and you can reach over it to hand your children things. The downside is you cannot help with buttons or seatbelts and would have to walk all the way around the cabin the be beside them
Option #2 MIDDLE AND WINDOW: The way my configuration was set up, the adjacent window seat was a little behind mine, so I could see the passenger there. If you sit in the middle seat and have your child in the window just behind you, you can easily get up and take one step to help them and reach them. The seat just in front of the middle is not as ideal as you cannot see into the pod at all.
Option #3 MIDDLE SEATS ONE BEHIND THE OTHER: This is another good option to be just one step away from your child. You can stand up and take one step and you are beside them. It is probably the CLOSEST option, although you cannot turn around and see them while sitting. At least in the option above, you can see them from your seat if you look behind you.
Air Canada Premium Economy with Kids
After reading about Air Canada’s highest level of service and its drawbacks for anyone not traveling solo, you will be happy to know that Premium Economy is nothing like sitting in Economy. I find the premium economy label misleading as I personally assoicaite it with airlines that do not have a nice first class. But Air Canada’s premium economy has almost everything that signature class has without the pods and fancy headphones. If you want space with kids, premium economy has it. If you want upgraded level of service, better food, glassware (I LOVE the Air Canada glasses IYKYK) nicely plated meals rather than plastic laden meal trays, premium economy has it.
Air Canada’s premium economy has several advantages for families. Firstly, there are two seats together. While I ended up being in front of Markus, it was fine, because I could reach back and touch him easily. While it would have been even easier if we were side by side, this worked for us. These seats also have a huge recline so sleeping is a lot easier than in economy class. The headrests are also fully adjustable.
Air Canada Economy Class with Kids
There is nothing wrong with economy class and to be honest, it is how we usually travel. I try and get a window when possible so the kids can lean against it, but they do struggle to get comfortable propping the small pillows against the wall.
I never choose the bulkhead rows when I am traveling with my kids. The arm rests in the bulkheads hold the tray table so they do not lift up. We always raise our armrests and snuggle in for more comfort. While bulkheads offer more leg room, kids do not really need it and dealing with the tray table is a hassle.
Air Canada Kids Meal
Air Canada offers the opportunity to order a kid’s meal ahead of your flight. You must book it in advance, not when you check-in. There are a few advantages to ordering a kid’s meal when flying on Air Canada. One of the reasons that I always order a special meal for my kids is because the special meals come out first. While that often means that the kids do have the meal in front of them for a long time, it does provide a welcome distraction.
Note that if you are flying overseas on a code share (meaning you bought your ticket from Air Canada but another airline, British Airways or Lufthansa for example, your meal choice may not transfer over to their system.) However I have found you can use your booking number on their website to choose your special meal. You can also contact Air Canada reservations and they can make a note on your booking.
Typically the kid’s meals are more child-friendly options, pasta with tomato sauce etc but to be honest, most of the time my kids will just snack on the bun. Sometimes even, they prefer the adult meal. So when my meal comes around, if it is rice or potatoes, I will often switch with them and eat their pasta, because anyone who files a lot knows, when you are offered a choice, always pick the pasta : )
Air Canada has a whole section on their kids meals. You can find it on their website.
More About Air Canada
Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic carrier and among the 20 largest airlines in the world. As of summer 2022 Air Canada expands its summer schedule with the recent service resumption announcement of 34 routes to Europe, Asia, Africa and The Middle East. The airline’s international network extends to 67 airports from its Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver hubs, as well as from Calgary and Halifax, and 96 total routes. As travel resumes to full capacity I am sure that Air Canada will continue to add routes back to its schedule!
header photo courtesy of Air Canada
Lindsay Nieminen hails from Vancouver, Canada and shares her love of travel on this website. She is passionate about showing others that they should not put off traveling the world just because they have young children or are single parents. She aims to encourage them to seek out adventure, whether it is at home or abroad by providing information on how just about everywhere can be a destination to explore as a family.