Air Canada

Review: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge London Heathrow Airport

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My flight arrived at London Heathrow shortly after 7AM, while my connecting flight to Toronto was at 12:05PM. That left me plenty of time between flights, which was perfect, since I had a lot of work to catch up on between two longhaul flights without wifi.

This was my first time using Terminal 2 at London Heathrow, also known as the Queen’s Terminal. It’s primarily the Star Alliance terminal, though it has been eons since I’ve flown Star Alliance out of Heathrow.

While I hate Heathrow in general, I figured the connection wouldn’t be too bad, since I was connecting within the same terminal. Boy, was I wrong. I wish I had one of those things which shows you how many steps you take or how many miles you walk, because connecting at Terminal 2 was as good as any treadmill workout.

Upon landing I followed the signage for Terminal 2 connections, where I had to walk a good 15-20 minutes before I arrived at a point where I could start the process of connecting within the terminal. Surely there has to be a better way.

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Review: Air Canada Business Class 787 Toronto To Frankfurt

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I boarded through door L1, where I was greeted by the service director and pointed to the far aisle, where my seat was located. My previous flight was operated by a Boeing 787-8 featuring just 20 business class seats, while this flight was operated by a Boeing 787-9, featuring 30 business class seats. The seats were still all in a single cabin, but thanks to the bigger space between doors one and two, there were simply an extra two and a half rows worth of seats.

As on the 787-8, the 787-9 has reverse herringbone seats, and I had selected seat 4K.

There were a couple of pillows waiting at my seat, along with a plush blanket. Air Canada has fantastic pillows and blankets.

As before, the entertainment screen was positioned in front of me, immediately above the tray table, which could be pulled out during the meal service.

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Review: Air Canada International Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto Airport

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As I mentioned in a previous installment, I was being rerouted on this trip due to my London to Johannesburg flight being canceled. The concierge in Vancouver was extremely helpful, though when I left Vancouver I still didn’t have my new boarding passes for the Toronto to Frankfurt to Johannesburg to Cape Town flights.

That’s because they were reissuing my ticket while I was flying from Vancouver to Toronto, as they weren’t able to do it in time. The concierge assured me that someone would be waiting for me upon arrival in Toronto with my new boarding passes. I was skeptical…

Well, as it turns out, I had no reason to be, because upon arrival there was a concierge waiting for me on the jet bridge. “Sorry about the issues with your flight, but Sanja asked me to give you these boarding passes for your new itinerary. I’ll also go ahead and escort you to the lounge and then your connecting flight.”

The more I read about it, it seems that when the concierges do get involved, they go great lengths, and in some cases even pick you up at your arrival gate and bring you to your departing gate.

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Review: Air Canada Business Class 787 Vancouver To Toronto

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Boarding commenced at 12:15PM through door L2. At the door I was welcomed by the friendly service director, Karen, who pointed me left towards the business class cabin.

Air Canada’s 787-8 business class cabin is intimate. It consists of just 20 seats, spread across five rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. The cabin consists of the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat, which is the same as those offered on Qatar Airways, Virgin Australia, and now on American’s new 787-9s and 777-200s.

I had selected seat 2A, the left window seat in the second row. I love Air Canada’s seat finishes — while they’re not the most adventurous out there, they look sleek, in my opinion.

One of the things which makes the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat different from the Zodiac reverse herringbone seat offered by many other airlines (like Air France, American, Avianca, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, etc.) is that the tray table can’t actually be fully stored. Instead it slides out from under the entertainment screen. Furthermore, the entertainment screen is always positioned in front of you, rather than having to be folded away for takeoff and landing.

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Review: Air Canada Domestic Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver Airport

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My flight from Vancouver to Toronto was scheduled to depart at 11:30AM, so I arrived at the airport at around 9:30AM. That’s a bit early for a domestic flight, but I still had to work to get done and my flight wouldn’t have wifi, so I figured I might as well finish working from the lounge.

I was dropped off by the hotel shuttle at Air Canada’s domestic terminal, which had a bright and airy check-in hall.

I walked all the way towards the left, where Air Canada’s premium check-in was located. My check-in was processed pretty quickly, though the agent could only issue my boarding passes as far as London (and not my connections from London to Johannesburg to Cape Town).

I couldn’t help but notice how friendly all the check-in agents were. Not just mine, but also those to the left and right of me, based on what I overheard. I guess it’s reflective of Canadians in general, but I’ve found them to be such friendly people overall.

I proceeded towards the security checkpoint for the “C” gates. The queue was only very short, but on top of that there was a premium line, so I was through in less than five minutes.

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Introduction: Star Alliance To South Africa

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Welcome to the trip report for the journey I just finished up, where I traveled on Air Canada and South African Airways, and stayed at three Starwood properties between Vancouver and Cape Town. On top of that, I got to visit a fantastic city for my first time as an adult (the last time I was in Cape Town was about 15 years ago).

The planning for this trip started in mid-April, when Star Alliance published some fantastic business class fares between Canada and South Africa. Thanks to the strength of the USD, it was among the best deals I’ve seen for travel to South Africa.

As many of you know, my goal this year is to review as many new business class products as possible, and this seemed like a pretty cool opportunity to check two more airlines off my list. I’ve really been wanting to fly Air Canada and South African Airways business class, and I could knock them both out on one trip with this itinerary.

I was excited about Air Canada because they have a new reverse herringbone business class product on their 777s and 787s, which looks top notch — after all, that’s one of my favorite business class hard products.

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Air Canada Business Class In 10 Pictures

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As I explained earlier, I ended up flying Air Canada’s business class yesterday between Toronto and Frankfurt, a flight which was operated by a Boeing 787-9.

I’ll have a full trip report once I get back to the US, but in the meantime I’ll continue my “10 pictures” series, to tide some of you over till the trip report is published. 😉 I realize I’ve done a “10 pictures” post before about Air Canada’s 787-9, though this was my first transatlantic flight on Air Canada.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series, which will be about South African Airways’ A340-600.

In the meantime, here are 10 pictures:

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Which Star Alliance Program Should I Credit Miles To?!?

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When it comes to revenue flying, I travel almost exclusively with oneworld, and credit those flights to American AAdvantage.

I fly a good amount of Star Alliance and SkyTeam as well, but typically on awards, which doesn’t earn me any status.

As I wrote about last month, I booked a cheap business class fare between Vancouver and Cape Town, which takes me via Toronto, London, and Johannesburg. The entire trip is about 24,000 flown miles, and since it’s in paid business class, I can potentially earn significantly more miles than that.

While I don’t generally care about Star Alliance status, I’m trying to decide where to credit these flights… and just realized that I need to adjust my strategy.

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Air Canada 787 Business Class In 10 Pictures

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This past weekend I flew to Toronto for a couple of days, and I flew Air Canada in both directions. Both flights were supposed to be on the 787-9, though the return flight got swapped for an A330-300.

I won’t be doing a trip report about these flights, since I’ll be taking four Air Canada flights in a couple of weeks, as I fly them from Vancouver to Toronto to London and back, enroute to South Africa. Those flights will be on Air Canada’s 787s and reconfigured 777s, all of which are scheduled to feature reverse herringbone business class seats.

Instead I figured I’d just share 10 pictures of my flight from Los Angeles to Toronto on Friday, without much commentary. This is a similar format to what I’ve done with past flights, where I share a preview of the experience before writing the full trip report. Except in this case there’s no full trip report, since I’ll be having a similar experience shortly.

For what it’s worth, Air Canada has a customized version of the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat as their new business class product, which is the same type of product American will be installing on their widebody planes going forward.

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Air Canada Announces New Vancouver To Delhi Flight

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India is a market in which North American carriers have traditionally struggled. For example, of US carriers, only United flies directly to India, out of their hub in Newark. Meanwhile both American and Delta have canceled their flights there over the past several years, instead focusing on one-stop codesharing opportunities between the two countries; Delta even recently strengthened their partnership with Jet Airways.

Delta’s CEO has blamed this on the Gulf carriers, saying that they forced the US carriers to exit the market. If that were true, I don’t think United would still have flights to both Delhi and Mumbai. There’s no doubt that Gulf carriers are providing much of the lift for passengers between the US and India, but I think Richard Anderson is wrong about the cause and effect relationship there.

The reality is that India is just a very tough market. It’s a long ways from North America, and it’s a fairly low yielding market. Economy class passengers are extremely price sensitive, and a lot of travel is still booked through consolidators. While there’s some premium demand, it’s also largely low yielding, and historically hasn’t been enough to make these routes profitable.

However, there are two considerations which have seriously changed, which put India back on the map:

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I Just Booked A Cheap Business Class Fare To South Africa!

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At the beginning of the year I wrote a post about the 16 airlines I want to review in 2016. You guys have asked for me to review new airlines (especially in business class), so I’ve been doing what I can to check out new carriers.

So far in 2016 I’ve reviewed the following new products:

— Air France business class
— Air India first class
— Finnair business class
— Hainan business class
— Iberia business class
— LAN business class
— Oman Air business class

On top of that, I have a couple of trips I’ve recently booked, which I’ll be taking in the coming months:

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Should You Convert Points To Aeroplan For A 55,000 Mile Bonus?

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Through April 18, 2016, Air Canada’s Aeroplan frequent flyer program is offering up to 55,000 bonus miles when converting points from many of their partners to Aeroplan. They seem to run this promotion up to a few times per year — most recently they offered the promo in December, prior to that in August, and then before that in April.

However, this bonus has the potential to scale even more than past ones.

The bonus is tiered, with the following thresholds:

As you can see, the promotion maxes out at 55,000 bonus miles, which converts into a 27.5% transfer bonus for those transferring exactly 200,000 miles.

The bonus you earn is based on the cumulative miles generated, so not all the miles have to come from a single transfer partner. Registration is not required, and the bonus miles should post 7-10 days after eligible transactions are complete.

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Air Canada Lowering Elite Qualification For Non-Canadians

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In November I wrote about how Air Canada is following US carriers in adding a revenue requirement for status as of this year. In other words, if you want to qualify for status this year which is valid for 2017, you’ll not only need to fly a certain amount, but will also need to spend a minimum amount.

Here are the spending requirements for status this year:

— Prestige 25K status requires 25,000 miles OR 25 segments AND 3,000CAD spend
— Elite 35K status requires 35,000 miles OR 35 segments AND 4,000CAD spend
— Elite 50K status requires 50,000 miles OR 50 segments AND 6,000CAD spend
— Elite 75K status requires 75,000 miles OR 75 segments AND 9,000CAD spend
— Super Elite 100K status requires 100,000 miles OR 95 segments AND 20,000CAD spend

I found the details of the actual thresholds to be interesting with Air Canada. While qualifying for Prestige 25K, Elite 35K, Elite 50K, and Elite 75K required an average of ~12 cents per mile of spend, Super Elite 100K requires ~20 cents per mile of spend (all the requirements are in CAD and not USD).

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Video: Air Canada Surprises People With Free Airline Tickets

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Nowadays a lot of airline marketing isn’t informational, but rather emotional, whereby brands are trying to create bonds with customers. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of airline videos go viral, especially when they’re “feel good” or emotional.

My personal favorite of all times is British Airways’ “Visit Mum” campaign, which just about makes me cry every time:

The most viral ever was WestJet’s “Christmas Miracle” video, which has over 42 million views on YouTube. It’s also pretty awesome, because it’s so creative and doesn’t seem staged:

Air Canada has tried to replicate some of the better “holiday giving” videos. Last year Air Canada released a “Gift Of Home” video in early December, whereby they went to a bar in London full of Canadians and gave them tickets to Canada for the holidays:

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