Introduction: Star Alliance To South Africa
Review: Four Points By Sheraton Vancouver Airport
Review: Air Canada Domestic Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver Airport
Review: Air Canada Business Class 787 Vancouver To Toronto
Review: Air Canada International Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto Airport
Review: Air Canada Business Class 787 Toronto To Frankfurt
Review: South African Airways Business Class A340 Frankfurt To Johannesburg
Review: South African Airways Domestic Lounge Johannesburg Airport
Review: South African Airways Business Class A319 Johannesburg To Cape Town
Review: Westin Cape Town
Review: South African Airways Lounge Cape Town Airport
Review: South African Airways Business Class A340 Cape Town To Johannesburg
Review: South African Airways International Lounge Johannesburg Airport
Review: Mashonzha Lounge Johannesburg Airport
Review: South African Airways Business Class A330 Johannesburg To London
Review: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Review: Air Canada Business Class 777 London Heathrow To Toronto
Review: Air Canada Domestic Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto Airport
Review: Westin Wall Centre Vancouver Airport
Air Canada 1176
Vancouver (YVR) – Toronto (YYZ)
Thursday, May 19
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
Seat: 2A (Business Class)
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.
The seat controls were to the left of my seat, and were easy to use.
Above the seat controls was a fairly large compartment with the entertainment controls, headphone jack, and both a USB and 110v outlet. I like the space, since you can charge your iPhone, etc., while having the compartment completely closed.
This version of the reverse herringbone seat also has a decent size footrest, and even better, has an area under the ottoman where you can store shoes or a small bag.
On the bottom left side of the seat was a magazine rack and a small storage space.
On the bottom right of the seat was a small exterior storage compartment, which was big enough for a bottle of water, amenity kit, etc. This was located below the adjustable armrest, which had to be stored for takeoff and landing.
I also love that Air Canada’s 787s have individual air vents, which many airlines don’t offer.
As is the norm on the 787, there weren’t window shades, but rather the windows could be dimmed using the controls immediately next to the seat.
Also waiting at my seat were a plush pillow and blanket. It might sound minor, but I love the fact that Air Canada offers the same pillow and blanket on their domestic flights as they do on their longhaul flights. If you fly a US carrier, on the other hand, you’ll typically only get a paper thin blanket and no pillow, even in first class.
Once settled in the super friendly flight attendants came around with pre-departure beverages, with the choice between water and orange juice.
Shortly thereafter they came around with newspapers, and then finally distributed menus for the flight.
Air Canada’s entertainment system becomes available during boarding, so I already started browsing the selection during this time. You can only use in-ear headphones plugged into the plane’s entertainment system during taxi, takeoff, and landing. You can’t use noise canceling headphones.
At around 12:35PM the service director made her welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 3hr54min and cruising altitude of 39,000 feet. All announcements throughout the flight were made in both English and French, as is the norm on Air Canada.
At 12:35PM boarding was complete — it’s impressive that Air Canada can board a full 787 in 20 minutes.
At 12:40PM the captain added his welcome aboard as well, anticipating a smooth ride to Toronto.
A couple of minutes after that the door closed, and then at 12:45PM we started our push back, at which point the safety video began to play.
Air Canada must have some of the most diverse casting of any safety video out there, and even features a gay couple in it:
We pushed back right next to a gorgeous Air Canada 777-300ER — I really do like Air Canada’s livery.
While taxiing to the runway we passed an Air Canada 787-8, Air Canada A321, and Air Canada 767-300.
Then we taxied out past the prop planes, and then past the WestJet terminal.
Lastly we passed the cargo area, where there was a DHL 767 and Cargojet 757.
At 1PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 26L.
We hit some light chop on the climb out, but once we were above the clouds the ride smoothed out. As usual, the views flying out of Vancouver were gorgeous.
It was especially cool that I got a direct view of Vancouver Airport a bit after takeoff, given that we took off into the west and then made a 180 degree turn.
The seatbelt sign was turned off less than 10 minutes after takeoff. As we climbed out I continued to browse the entertainment selection. I started with the airshow.
Air Canada has an awesome interactive airshow feature, which showed all kinds of perspectives.
The entertainment selection is also extensive, with plenty of TV shows and movies. While many of the shows were ones which are also available on other airlines, I was shocked that there were episodes of both “2 Broke Girls” and “The Big Bang Theory” which I hadn’t seen. It has been a long time since I’ve found sitcoms I haven’t seen on a plane, as they all seem to recycle the same episodes.
After takeoff I headed to the lavatory — the 787-8 has one lavatory in front of the business class cabin, and then two behind the cabin. However, I believe one of the two behind the cabin is intended for premium economy.
After takeoff the crew came around with proper noise canceling headphones.
The service director also came around the cabin to greet passengers and take meal orders. Air Canada really seems to embrace the concept of service directors, which I really appreciate. I’ve found service to consistently be better on airlines with someone actually in charge, rather than just the US airline model, where a purser is paid a couple of extra dollars an hour to do the paperwork and make the announcements.
Air Canada seems to prioritize meal orders by status and/or fare, since the crew hopped around the cabin to take meal orders.
The lunch menu read as follows:
About 15 minutes after takeoff, hot towels were distributed — Air Canada’s hot towels are nice and thick.
Then 25 minutes after takeoff a cart was rolled through the aisle with drinks and warm cashews. I ordered a gin & tonic.
About 30 minutes after the meal was served, the crew rolled another cart through the cabin with the appetizer, which consisted of prosciutto and melon.
There were two types of bread on offer — I selected the baguette.
As soon as starters were cleared, the crew brought out main courses individually, rather than rolling a cart through the aisle again. I had ordered the chicken curry, which was quite good. It would have been a lot better if they used higher quality chicken. The chicken was only slightly better than what you’d expect in a microwave dish. However, the curry was nice and spicy, and the rice was surprisingly good given that it was prepared on a plane.
Another 15 minutes after the main course was served, the crew came through with a dessert cart, consisting of fruit, cookies, and ice cream. I caved and had the vanilla gelato and freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. I had a cup of coffee to accompany it. Mmmmm…
After lunch I decided to watch “Just For Laughs,” which seemed fitting. That’s the silent comedy show I’ve seen on a countless number of airlines, and it’s based in Canada. However, this happened to be the “stand-up” version, which featured some of the least funny comedians I’ve ever heard. I think the problem is that Canadians might be too friendly/polite to be good stand-up comedians. 😉
I managed to nap for about an hour after the meal, and woke up just under an hour out of Toronto.
At that point the crew came around with a snack basket and pre-landing beverages. I ordered a glass of still water, and selected a Kit Kat bar (which I placed in my carry-on for consumption at a later point).
At around 7:25PM ET the captain came on the PA to inform us we’d be landing in about 30 minutes. At that point we began our descent, just as the sun was slowly starting to set.
We had great views of the Toronto skyline on approach.
We had a smooth touchdown in Toronto on runway 23 at 7:55PM.
From there it was about a 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate.
The traffic at the terminal was interesting, and a nice mix between what I’m used to (British Airways, Alitalia, etc.), and airlines I don’t see as much of (like Air Transat).
We pulled into our arrival gate at 8:05PM, about 75 minutes late.
Air Canada 787 business class bottom line
While the food could be significantly better with just a small investment, Air Canada blew away their North American counterparts in every other way. Having a reverse herringbone seat for a transcon flight is pretty awesome.
The seats were great, the entertainment selection extensive, and the crew was friendly across the board. As I’ve said several times in this report, I suspect it’s largely just a Canadian thing, but every Air Canada employee I interacted with was chipper and attentive.
If you’ve flown Air Canada, what was your experience like?