Air Canada business class review: flight 33 was showing an on-time departure and we left the airline’s Signature Suite dining in time for the start of boarding. However when we got to the gate the Boeing 787-9 wasn’t ready to board. No announcements were being made. Anyone who asked was told we’d board ‘soon’ but with no explanation for the delay. Boarding commenced about half an hour late (and the flight was ultimately delayed by about 45 minutes).
I’d been on board an Air Canada Boeing 787 before, but not in 5 years. My first impression was that the business class seat is still good, but hardly leading.
Masks were still required for this flight, and flight attendants were scolding passengers either not wearing one or not wearing one properly. Canadian mask rules were still in effect, and so were Australia’s rules for flights headed there.
I immediately got a sense from the cabin crew of indifference. They were neither friendly nor hostile. For instance when I took a moment to consider what I wanted to drink the crewmember simply walked past me to ask the passenger in the next row what he wanted. Overall though this was a perfectly fine flight, and I’d happily take Air Canada long haul again.
Air Canada Business Class Review: Seat
Air Canada’s business class seat on the Boeing 787-9 is the Collins Aerospace Super Diamond. That’s the seat American Airlines uses on its Boeing 787-9s and some Boeing 777-200s. It’s the new British Airways business class seat (with doors added). Taiwan’s China Airlines and a number of other carriers use it as well.
This is a good, spacious and comfortable lie flat seat with direct aisle access, but not a suite with doors. It’s nice both as a seat and as a bed.
If there was one downside for me, taking a middle seat with my daughter, it’s that the divider between seats was fixed in the upright position and wasn’t adjustable down. (My wife took an aisle seat across from our daughter.)
My daughter slept a solid 7-plus hours in the seat, while I dozed on and off for about four while I watched several episodes of the latest season of Billions on my phone and did a bit of work on my laptop. Internet worked fine.
There was a sanitary kit and bottle of water at the seat upon boarding. There were slippers, a blanket and pillow, and an ample amenity kit.
Main Meal Service
Service began with a beverage and packaged nuts. That was disappointing.
Since we’d eaten an outstanding meal in the Signature Suite prior to boarding we weren’t hungry and were looking forward to settling in. We asked the crew to save our main meal for later in the flight – something Air Canada advertises on its menu and more airlines should offer. They just had us let them know when we were ready for it.
Here’s the menu for the flight.
On a nearly 15 hour flight a dinner at the outset and then breakfast around a dozen hours later seems too long between meals, even though midflight snacks are available. Delaying dinner until midway through the flight was a perfect solution.
The meal was a one tray affair, which I hadn’t realized until asking for the meal later in the flight. I’d asked if everything could be served together, rather than in courses, and I was told that’s how it’s done anyway. I understand the desire for quick service on a post-11 p.m. departure but feel like one tray (‘express’) service should be an option rather than the only option.
During the meal I noticed that the inflight entertainment system was promoting credit card offers. It struck me that the U.S. offer is so much more lucrative than Canadian offers, and I wonder if seeing such a rich offer they’re not eligible for makes Canadian passengers less likely to opt in for the one they can get.
Butter chicken, salad, cheese and dessert
The butter chicken was reasonably tasty. I felt like this was a reasonable second meal, but disappointing as a first meal, acknowledging that the post-11 p.m. departure meal service is more limited (but at the same time wonder if it shouldn’t be on a scheduled 15 hour 30 minute flight). It turned out perfect for me because it was my second meal thanks to a nice dinner in the Signature Suite.
I give Air Canada credit for offering a hot option as a midflight snack. You can order a pot pie at any time, in addition to packaged chips and chocolate. The pot pie was small but reasonably tasty, what you’d expect from a grocery freezer item. The fries accompanying it were soggy.
They ran out of bottled waters and wouldn’t give me a second – just refills of small glasses of water. I had actually picked up a few bottles at the vending machine by the gate before the flight in anticipation of this.
Breakfast was the major disappointment, as it often is on North American and even European carriers. I opted for the omelette over the pancakes.
The omelette came out fairly rubbery. The fruit was fine, but the “croissant” came in a sealed plastic package. They didn’t open the package or heat it and there was no pass for seconds. I don’t know how we were supposed to use the butter on the slightly cold mediocre croissant?
Bottom-line Air Canada Business Class Vancouver – Sydney Review
Let’s try something new for this Air Canada business class review and with my trip reports more generally, a rating by category and then overall for the flight. I may adjust the weights given to each category as I refine my thinking on this experiment. I consider 5 to be roughly average on a scale of 1-10.
Air Canada business class flight (1-10):
Seat (50%): 7.5/10
Bedding and amenities (15%): 6/10
Food and Beverage (20%): 6/10
Service (15%): 6/10
Weighted average: 6.75/10
Air Canada’s business class is generally competitive with other airlines flying between North America and Australia and I would probably choose them over United, American and certainly Qantas’ Airbus A380 in business.