Review: Air Canada Business Class 777 London Heathrow To Toronto

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Air Canada 857
London (LHR) – Toronto (YYZ)
Thursday, May 26
Depart: 12:05PM
Arrive: 2:45PM
Duration: 7hr40min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 11K (Business Class)

My previous Air Canada flights were operated by 787s, so I was excited to see how the 777 compared. I boarded through the forward door, and was pointed to the far aisle, since I was seated on the right side of the plane.

Air Canada’s 777-300ER business class on this configuration consists of a total of 40 seats, spread across two cabins.

The forward business class cabin has a total of 26 seats, spread across seven rows (the first six rows have four seats per row, while the last row has just two seats on the window sides).

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Air Canada’s 777 business class forward cabin

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Air Canada’s 777 business class forward cabin

Then there was the mini cabin behind that, where I was seated. This cabin consisted of a total of 14 seats (the first row had just two seats in the center, while the other three rows had four seats each).

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Air Canada’s 777 business class rear cabin

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Air Canada’s 777 business class rear cabin

Generally I far prefer being in the mini-cabin, since it’s quieter and there’s less traffic during the flight, though everyone in economy does walk past your seat during boarding.

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Air Canada’s 777 business class rear cabin

I quickly popped my head into Air Canada’s intimate premium economy cabin, which featured just three rows. The seats there are in a 2-4-2 configuration (compared to 3-4-3 in economy, which is a tight fit). Premium economy looked like a solid product.

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Air Canada premium economy on the 777

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Air Canada premium economy on the 777

I had assigned myself seat 11K, which was the window seat in the last row of business class.

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Air Canada business class, seat 11K

The seat was the same design as on the 787, though there were some minor differences, probably due to the 777 having a wider cabin.

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Air Canada business class, seat 11K

For example, the compartment which housed the entertainment controls, power outlets, and headphone jack, was significantly larger than on the 787.

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Air Canada 777 business class storage compartment

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Air Canada 777 business class power outlet

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Air Canada 777 business class headphone jack and USB port

On top of that, the counter space next to the seat seemed to be a bit larger. I’d note that I had extra space on top of that, since I was in the last row, meaning there was no seat behind me.

Already waiting at my seat on boarding was a bottle of water, amenity kit, and earbuds.

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Air Canada business class bottled water, amenity kit, and earbuds

As was the case on the 787, there was an adjustable armrest on the aisle side of the seat.

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Air Canada 777 business class armrest

Beneath that was a small storage compartment, which could hold a bottle of water.

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Air Canada 777 business class aisle-side storage

Also waiting at my seat were a pillow and blanket set.

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Air Canada business class pillow & blanket

About 10 minutes after settling in, one of the friendly flight attendants came by to offer me a choice of orange juice, water, or sparkling wine. I selected a water.

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Air Canada business class pre-departure water

About five minutes later menus were distributed.

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Air Canada business class menu

While still on the ground I changed into something more comfortable. The business class cabin had a total of three lavatories, including two between business class cabins, and one at the very front. The lavatories were a pretty standard size, and didn’t have especially nice finishes.

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Air Canada 777 business class lavatory

At around 11:50AM, Captain Norm came on the PA to add his welcome aboard, informing us of our flight time of 6hr55min, and that we’d be taking off into the west and cruising at 34,000 feet.

After his announcement the flight attendants came around business class to take lunch orders.

Boarding was pretty efficient, and by 12PM the door was closed, with a total of six empty seats in business class. We pushed back within about five minutes, at which point the safety video screened.

We were parked next to a Thai A380.

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Thai A380 London Heathrow

As soon as we pushed we had a view of an Ethiopian 777.

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Ethiopian 777 London Heathrow

It took us a few minutes to start up the engines, and from there it was a quick 10 minute taxi to the runway. We taxied past the Virgin Atlantic hangar, and then got in the takeoff queue behind four British Airways planes.

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Taxiing past Virgin Atlantic hangar London Heathrow

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British Airways planes queuing for takeoff London Heathrow

There was a Malaysia A380 which was taxiing immediately behind us.

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Malaysia A380 London Heathrow

By 12:20PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 27R.

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Taking off London Heathrow

It was a beautiful day to fly, and we had a smooth climb out, with great views of the area surrounding Heathrow.

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View after takeoff from Heathrow

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View after takeoff from Heathrow

10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off.

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View climbing out of London Heathrow

I browsed the inflight entertainment, starting with the airshow, which had all kinds of cool perspectives from which you could view the route.

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Airshow departing London Heathrow

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Airshow between London and Toronto

Then I browsed the TV & movie selection.

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Air Canada entertainment system 777

I eventually decided to watch “Trainwreck,” starring Amy Schumer. I love Amy Schumer, and thought the movie was hilarious.

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Air Canada entertainment system 777

An hour after takeoff flight attendants distributed real headsets, and then shortly after that the meal service slowly began. The lunch menu read as follows:

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And the beverage list read as follows:

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First everyone was offered a hot towel.

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Air Canada business class hot towel

Then drinks were served — rather than using a cart, the crew served off trays, which I appreciated. I just ordered a glass of still water, which was served with cashews.

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Air Canada business class lunch — water & cashews

I was offered a refill on nuts.

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Air Canada business class lunch — cashews

It was a full 90 minutes after takeoff before the starter course was served, which consisted of bresaola beef and a side salad.

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Air Canada business class lunch — starter and salad

The starter was good, in particular with the pesto and red pepper salsa.

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Air Canada business class lunch starter — bresaola beef with cheese, pesto, and salsa

The salad was tasty as well, and I appreciated that it wasn’t romaine lettuce.

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Air Canada business class lunch salad — rocket, sun-dried tomatoes, and parmesan

I had a wheat roll with the starter.

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Air Canada business class lunch bread

For the main course I ordered the poached cod fillet, which was quite good. The highlight, however, were the sides — the couscous pearls, green beans, and tomato caper olive salsa were exceptional.

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Air Canada business class lunch main course — poached cod fillet

Next up a cheese course was served, which was basic but good.

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Air Canada business class lunch — cheese course

I ordered a cappuccino with the cheese course, which was good as well. It was served with a small Lindt chocolate.

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Air Canada business class lunch — cappuccino

Lastly I was served dessert, which consisted of three small scoops of ice cream. I thought the presentation was nice, and the ice cream tasted very good.

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Air Canada business class lunch — dessert of chocolate, vanilla, and mocha ice cream

Overall the meal was enjoyable, and the crew was top notch. They were friendly, engaging, and extremely attentive.

There was just one small problem. The meal service took forever. The airshow has an indicator which shows the progress of your flight. Here’s what it looked like when my tray was finally cleared:

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Progress of flight upon completion of lunch

The lunch service was finished three hours after takeoff, which was almost halfway through the flight. It’s not that the crew was lazy or anything, as they were hustling the whole flight. Rather they seemed to be somewhat understaffed, and I also think Air Canada’s service is too drawn out. This was in stark contrast to my outbound flight from Toronto to Frankfurt, where everything was served on one tray, and dinner was done an hour after takeoff.

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Airshow enroute to Toronto

After lunch I decided to watch a few sitcoms, including some episodes of “The Middle” I hadn’t seen before.

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Air Canada business class entertainment options

I then watched a Canadian show called “Income Property,” where a real estate expert basically helps people buy properties which are a good investment for the purposes of generating rental income. However, my mind was blown by the math. For example, the couple wanted to buy a rental property to put several daughters through school, and the net profit basically ended up being a couple of hundred dollars per month per property. I doubt that will generate enough income in the next few years to put your daughters through school! Anyway…

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Air Canada business class entertainment options

Before I knew it we were approaching North America, and just 1hr45min from arriving in Toronto.

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Airshow enroute to Toronto

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Airshow enroute to Toronto

About 1hr15min before landing the pre-arrival snack was served.

The pre-arrival snack menu read as follows:

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I wasn’t actually that hungry, given that lunch wrapped up just a couple of hours prior. I still took the snack, just so I could snap some pictures and try it.

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Air Canada business class pre-arrival snack

The snack was tasty, from the finger sandwiches, to the oranges, to the scones.

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Air Canada business class snack — three types of sandwiches

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Air Canada business class snack — fresh orange segments

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Air Canada business class snack — scone with jam and clotted cream

About 30 minutes before landing the captain came on the PA to provide updated arrival information, informing us we should be arriving a bit early.

As we descended I watched an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” I hadn’t seen before.

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Air Canada entertainment selection

Our descent was smooth initially, though in a rather abrupt way the captain announced “flight attendants take your seats immediately.” So the flight attendants took their seats for the rest of the descent, and had us self police for seatbelts, electronic devices, etc. Oddly there was virtually no turbulence.

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View approaching Toronto

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View on final approach into Toronto

We touched down at Toronto Airport at 2:25PM.

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View on final approach into Toronto

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View on final approach into Toronto

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Touchdown Toronto!

From there it was a 10 minute taxi to the gate, where we arrived a few minutes early.

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Taxiing Toronto Airport

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Taxiing Toronto Airport

We pulled in next to an Air Canada 787.

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Air Canada 787 Toronto Airport

Air Canada 777 Business Class bottom line

Air Canada’s 777 business class features a great hard product, much like the airline’s 787s. It’s amazing how quickly Air Canada is transforming their business class product, as all 787s feature these seats, and almost all 777s have been reconfigured with these seats as well.

The service and food on this sector were very good. The crew was friendly and attentive, so I have nothing but good things to say about them. However, Air Canada really needs to do something about making their service more efficient, as it shouldn’t take three hours to serve a relatively basic (but tasty) meal.

Overall Air Canada offers a great business class product, and I found the service to be consistently excellent across all my flights. Here’s to hoping they install wifi on these planes soon!

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Comments

  1. Do you have any idea of the reasoning behind the announcement for flight attendants to take their seats? Was there an expectation of turbulence that never materialized?

  2. Lucky,

    For reference, a university like McGill (one of Canada’s best) is only about $2,300/year in tuition. Saving a couple hundred a month for several years probably does put a kid through college in Canada. The more you know!

    Ben

  3. Hmm, 90 minutes seems like an awfully long amount of time before starting the meal service! How many rounds of drinks did they do during that time? It seems like if they started the meal service sooner that would solve most of the problem of the drawn-out meal service. That being said, on a daytime flight, I quite enjoy drawn-out meal services when traveling in a premium cabin. For those who wish to nap or want more time to work/rest, they do offer executive dining.

    Lucky, I’d be curious to hear how you compare this type of seat to the variant on AA/CX. Did you find that the tray table placement restricted you? That seems to be a common theme in reviews I’ve read of the seat.

  4. Do you know if all AC 777’s with Premium economy have the new business class configuration?

  5. @GringoLoco That looks to me like a fire department training model aircraft… the kind that bursts into flames for them to practice extinguishing.

  6. I love Income Property! It’s on HGTV in the US. Plus, I’ve had a crush on Scott McGillivray since I started watching the show years ago. <3 Unfortunately, he's straight and married. 🙁 😛

    In any case, I'm actually amazed that AC managed to install the new "Executive Pod" seats so quickly. It feels like it wasn't that long ago when I read loads of complaints about the high density version of the Vantage style staggered "Studio Pod" seats on their 777-300ERs. They were so bad that people were longing for the "old" herringbone seats.

    I do wonder what AC's Premium Economy is like; it baffles me why they (and SAS) chose not to install leg rests. Personally, the behind-the-seat foot rests just aren't enough, especially on overnight flights. Their fixed position just isn't conducive to sleeping. At least with leg rests, you can move your legs around to make yourself more comfortable…

  7. Wifi is coming to all AC widebody fleets by the end of 2017 I believe.
    All narrowbody Mainline and CRA aircraft already have wifi.

  8. An hour to get proper headsets! That seems an awful long time based on a smooth climb without turbulence. That would annoy me. (Although I always have my own Bose anyway!)

  9. Air Canada is done converting all their 777 aircraft to the new business and premium economy cabins.

    Why did the convesions happen so quickly? One reason and it was NOT passenger comfort. Air Canada added a ton of extra seating in economy class by going to 10-across seating, and moved the rows closer together. Went from 349 to 450 seats. OUCH!

  10. You’re forgetting that people allot a portion of their income to rent/mortgage. Erase that and then add a few hundred bucks a month, then you’re saving a lot.

  11. Minor quibble, but…anyone else not like when items like bread and/or scones are served onto the cloth instead of on a plate? Granted, it’s definitely up there on the list of “First World Problems”, but still.

  12. For example, the couple wanted to buy a rental property to put several daughters through school, and the net profit basically ended up being a couple of hundred dollars per month per property. I doubt that will generate enough income in the next few years to put your daughters through school!

    Ben… this is Canada, it might be enough…

  13. Interesting that the pre landing snack (finger sandwiches, scones and orange segments) served is the same as the afternoon tea that British Airways serves in “Club World” on the appropriate flights out of Heathrow also and yet, with a small amount of effort (i.e. taking the wrapper off the sandwiches and putting them on a plate!), you can make the whole product look and feel better.

  14. How many J configurations does AC have on their 777s. I did a NRT-YYZ flight two years ago and it had a regular herringbone config. Does that still exist? I see people above mentioning staggered seating too.

  15. Excellent review Lucky! Thank you. I’ll agree with one of the posters who said a drawn out service is nice in business class during the day when one doesn’t want to sleep. Just watch movies and the staff keeps the food & drink coming – works for me!

  16. @ Charlie McMillan — Heh, fair enough, though I guess in my case I *did* want to sleep, since I came off a redeye where I didn’t get any decent sleep.

  17. @ Marco — Heh, with the pace of service, it ended up being more like a cheese course and then 10 minutes later a cappuccino.

  18. @tim re your comment “Air Canada added a ton of extra seating in economy class by going to 10-across seating, and moved the rows closer together. Went from 349 to 450 seats. OUCH!”

    AC didn’t convert any planes from 349 to 450. On this specific 77W, it went from 349 to 400 (new J cabin + added PY) and there are 5 specific 77W that went from 458 to 450 when they installed the new J seats.
    KL AF EY EK all have 77W’s with more seats than AC’s flagship 400 seat config.
    I would say AC has the best in class J, PY and Y+ among the above carriers and a pretty competitive Y spec!

  19. The unionized FAs have always been slow. The Asian FAs were always complaining how slow and lazy the FAs are especially the Montreal attitude as I was told. Pass on AC since major devaluation.

  20. AC6 HND-YYZ, 789 in business home after ANA ORD-NRT first class over to Japan. Love those aeroplan points.
    One hr and 20 minutes from HND departure until a drink was served. During that time, i got my customs card and duty free catalogue as well a a personal chat from the cabin director. It is ridiculous to wait that long, even for a glass of water.
    The difference in service between ANA and AC was like night and day. Inefficient and takes way too long.
    couldn’t agree more.

  21. A couple days ago I flew FRA-YYC on AC in J. Similar experience as you, Lucky. First drink was served well over an our after departure. Overall, meal service was finished 3.5hrs after departure. FAs and food were good, Thankfully the flight was booked for 9h30min so I still had enough time to sleep a solid 5 hours. I skipped the pre-landing snack though, on purpose.

  22. No, the meal service was not lagging. It was just not the mechanized, rush, get it over with meals that you are used to on US based airlines.

    They dont even serve you a drink, before they are trying to get the meal over with, in an hour, for an 8-10 hour flight.

    Kudos to AC for not rushing it.

  23. I read some negative comments on Seatguru about the new business class seat on the 77W particularly the foot well. From the pictures, they look similar to the EVA or Cathay’s design. What do you personally think of this new seat?

  24. WOW, what a complete review. The service we are looking at is a Boeing 777-300ER, and there is one question no one has been able to answer: Seated in one of the two seats in business class in the center, is the privacy panel between the seats removable ? We’re used to business class where you sit side by side (United) and we appreciate enjoying the flight together.
    Thanks

  25. Thank for your great review! Do you usually prefer the mini cabin? it doe seem more intimate. IF you had ot be in forward cabin,which seat would you choose?

  26. @ Luke — I do prefer the mini cabin because it’s more private. In the forward cabin I think any window seat other than the bulkhead or last row is roughly equal.

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