After collecting my checked luggage, I had to make my way to the Air Canada Terminal where my LOT Polish flight to Warsaw departs from. That means I need to take the train around and it was a bit of a hassle to transfer between terminals especially with a snowboard bag!
LOT Premium Class check-in counters
The check-in counters for LOT Polish have not yet opened, thus I had to wait it out and that gave me time to use the washrooms and just wait patiently since there was no one in the queue for Business Class. Queues have already started to form for Economy Class though and it was quite a long one.
LOT check-in counters at Toronto Pearson
Eventually the check-in counters opened at about 3 hours before scheduled departure, and I proceed to the Business Class counter to obtain my boarding pass. The agents serving the counter seems to be just doing her job, but not exactly friendly or very welcoming. LOT premium passengers do get access to the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge but no directions were provided.
Entrance foyer to the lounge
After that, there was another long queue for security at Toronto and I probably waited about 20 minutes before reaching the front of the line. There did not seem to be any priority queue or at least none that I noticed. However Air Canada's Maple Leaf Lounge is quite easy to get to following the signs after passing security.
Entrance to the Maple Leaf Lounge in the International Terminal at YYZ
Since I had been travelling for more than a day, I asked for a shower on entry and was told to proceed to the end of the lounge. When I reached there, there was only 2 shower rooms in lounge. While they were large the housekeeping was dismal as both were not cleaned when I wanted to use them. There was also no staff on hand to clean them such that one of the agents had to personally get rid of the towels and hastily make one fitting enough for me to use.
Shower room with dirty towels
Vanity counter in the shower room
As I mentioned, the shower rooms were spacious but it lacked benches or stools for luggage and to sit on. Fortunately, the showers are great to use and I was able to clean and refresh myself before another long haul red-eye flight.
Clean second shower room
It was around dinner time after I showered and thus I proceed to the dining area which is just beside the shower rooms.
Dining area in the lounge
The food sadly was quite lacking in terms of presentation or quality. Vegetarian pho was one of the choices of food. It is a new low because it's basically just broth, vermicelli and bean sprouts with condiments. Just a feedback to Air Canada's management, Vietnamese pho taste best with some beef slices, and Toronto has one of the best pho outlet in North America, so maybe you need to learn from them instead of serving food that will just go to waste.
Aside from the pho, there was a range of salads, chips and variety of dips, along with a selection of pastas, and the pasta for that day happens to be raviolis.
Chips and dips
Main course buffet
In the end I just had some raviolis for the light dinner as I thought I could dine later during the flight. After all I am seated in Business Class.
Ravioli for dinner
Anyway while having dinner in the lounge, I noticed a celebrity seated opposite me. For those of you who do not recognize him, he plays a major role in 'Life of Pi' and recently in the movie 'Jurassic World'.
Spot the celebrity in the lounge
I happen to notice him because he is probably one of the most well dressed in the lounge and appears to be very stylish. Turns out he is on the same flight as me onboard LOT bound for Warsaw.
Maple Leaf Lounge in the International Terminal at YYZ
With my stomach partially filled, I continued to explore the rest of the lounge. The lounge is basically split into 2 sides, with a tiered seating lounge and dining space on one side and a larger all-seating lounge on the other side, separated by a wood-panelled wall that also acts as a drinks counter and magazine rack.
There is also a long table for lounge guests to work on or just munch on snacks with a glass of beer. The usual suspects of beer supply are complimentary through the tap which is standard for Air Canada's lounge.
Long table in the lounge
At the end of the lounge near the shower area, there are 3 distinct spaces. One is a section with office-like cubicles for guests who needs to get work done, another is a small business centre that also functions as a space for VVIPs, and the last is a quiet corner with lounge chairs and also a space to wait for the shower rooms since there are only 2 in the whole lounge.
Workstations with printers in the lounge
Relaxation space in the lounge
In general the lounge space nearer to the entrance is much brighter while the space gets dimmer as one goes towards the end. While there is a lot of space for guests, the food in the lounge is inadequate for what might be the flagship lounge for Air Canada. Though perhaps the domestic side has better food, as I noticed the <a href="https://quirrow.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/domestic-maple-leaf-lounge-in-vancouver-vive-le-quebec/">domestic Maple Leaf Lounge in Vancouver</a> has a better food selection that the transborder side of the Lounge. The whole lounge has a nice design and is quite functional in terms of requiring a space to sit down and have some drinks but as a flagship lounge it sure is lacking in amenities like proper food, more and better designed shower rooms and those other extras (themed areas, cigar lounges, massage chairs, etc.) that makes a flagship lounge great.
Artwork in the Terminal
Boarding was not called for in the lounge and I made my way out of the lounge slightly earlier to check out the other parts of the terminal, since it will be my first international flight out of YYZ. The terminal is a pleasant space with free internet, and lots of shops. There are even celebrity restaurants inside as I spot a Lee Restaurant opened by one of Canada's celebrity chef Susur Lee. There are also lounges with free iPads to use where passengers could also order drinks from the bar at the terminal. In essence, there are nice facilities for passengers without lounge access in Toronto Pearson.
When I arrived by the gate, I had time to take a photo of the plane before boarding the flight, and with the priority boarding in effect, it was nice to have the time to board first.
LOT Polish Boeing 787 in Toronto Pearson
LO046 Toronto Pearson YYZ - Warsaw Chopin WAW STD-STA: 2145-1205 Actual: 2200-1149 Boeing 787-8 SP-LRA Gate E72 Seat 3A
LOT Business Class on the 787
LOT has a pretty small business class section with only 3 rows of 6 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. My first time landing into Warsaw meant I picked the window seat and it was quite nearly a full flight while the celebrity I spotted at the Maple Leaf Lounge was seated in row 1. The seat itself was similar to the lie flat seats China Southern uses on the 787 and what Air China installs on the A330. There was a nice pillow on the seat along with what looks like a cloth which I suppose is for the seat cover while sleeping. Where other Business Class provides a quilt and comforter, LOT provides a tablecloth for the seat cover, go figure!
Business Class seat with pillow and cloth on the seat
The lacklustre seat is followed by an 'ignore' session as boarding continued since there are still some passengers boarding the premium cabin. There was no welcome drink offered and no hot towels either. For the record, I was not shown to my seat either. There was also this lone plate of canapes which I am not sure belongs to my seat mate or for me but it did not look that safe to eat so I just passed until it was eventually taken after boarding was complete.
Legroom in the Business Class seat
Inflight menu was given out and meal orders were taken after boarding is complete. Meanwhile a very small amenity kit was distributed after pullback. The pouch and the contents feels more like what Singapore Airlines used to give out to their economy class passengers. Somewhat lacking and they might as well skip it altogether as it reflects poorly on the airline.
Maybe it was just not my day in travelling but the disappointment extended to the entertainment system that needed a reboot. And after take-off, there was lots of passenger announcements and advertisements to prevent passengers from enjoying the video. The only good thing was that the take-off was quick and there was no delay at all.
LOT Polish inflight entertainment remote
Inflight entertainment was decent at least, with an average selection. There is a nice screen with a remote below the armrest which makes sense since the monitor is a distance to negate any touch screen capability.
LOT inflight magazine
Hot towels was finally distributed before the meal service but it was a really thin towel. Meanwhile, I started watching the movie 'SPY' for entertainment while waiting for the meal service. The meal started with a small ramekin of cashew nuts. For beverage, I had a glass of coke and the black currant juice which I enjoyed.
The rest of the menu was as follow:
The meal service started with the placement of salad, condiments and the cutlery set. A short while later the crew came back with the soup. Broccoli cream soup as appetizer was great and the salad was not bad either even if the portion is a bit small.
Starter meal service
Broccoli cream soup
Main course was the one that I did not like. While portions were good, the presentation of the dish was bad with a dry piece of cod. Furthermore, the cod just didn't feel as fresh and I did not finish it.
Seared cod with Lyonnaise potatoes
I had just the Haagen Dazs chocolate ice cream for dessert (other option was strawberry), and while there was no variety of desserts, at least the ice cream is enjoyable.
Haagen-Dazs ice cream for dessert
After dessert the crew offered aperitifs and polish mead I think, which I declined as I just felt like sleeping then. So I head to the restroom to brush my teeth and get ready for bedtime. When I exited the restroom, nearly all the crew was congregated there and basically blocked the galley as they were peddling the duty free. The crew's attitude just made this flight feel very cheap, as passengers are not cared for, while they seems more intent on getting the passengers to part with more money.
Seat converted to a bed
LOT provide a seat mattress cover that looks like a tablecloth and a blanket was also available. I set up the seat into a bed but because of the thin seat cover, it did not make for the best lie-flat bed in a Business Class. Still, I managed to sleep quite soundly considering I was quite tired and only woke up to the clutter of utensils when the passengers in row 2 started breakfast.
Morning over Scandinavia
Another thing to note was that the windows on this flight seems to be controlled by the crew and even though some passengers were still sleeping, the morning sunshine have streamed into the whole cabin. That allowed me to take some photos as we flew over Europe. Being seated in row 3 also allowed me to capture photos of the wing and engines with the blue skies as a background.
Rolls Royce engines on the 787
Cabin crew came around with hot towel before breakfast, though I noticed crew did not really wake passengers up for breakfast. Again it seems to be a nonchalant attitude to service, with just the minimal notions being carried out. Do not expect any smiles either from these grumpy crew.
Hot towel before breakfast
I got the hot option for breakfast and asked for a Cappuccino for my hot drinks. During this time my seatmate woke up too and asked for the same. And we started chatting.
Crepes with fruits (or pancakes)
My main course arrived first and in my mind it was not crepes as it was more like McDonald's Hotcakes breakfast served with fruits. Not a bad thing since I do enjoy a McDonald's breakfast at times as a guilty pleasure. So the breakfast was definitely more enjoyable than dinner.
Cup of Cappuccino
While the breakfast service continued with warm croissants passed around the cabin with the tiny packets of nutella. Again another thumbs up for them. Then I continued my conversation with my seatmate over breakfast. Turns out my seatmate was connecting to Kiev for work and he was in the insurance management business, so go figure!
Croissant and nutella spread
Descent was wonderful since it was a pretty good weather and I hadn't keep track of the route we took as I mistook the coast I saw as France. Turns out we passed by Scandinavia instead.
Flight map showing the route we took
The beautiful weather over continental Europe continued so maybe the pilot just chose to fly over an area with nice weather. It was nice to see the vast plains and tracts of farmland surrounding the city of Warsaw. I even got to see the skyline of the city in the distance, which is nice. Eventually though, I am taking another flight to Zurich and that means I will not get to explore Warsaw.
Descent into Poland
Skyline of Warsaw during landing
Our plane made it way to park at the gate without much spotting opportunities in this relatively quiet airport. Aside from other LOT planes, there was little else to see. The only other interesting sight was the other LOT 787 that we parked beside.
Another LOT Polish 787
As I alighted the plane, I proceed to the passport control where a huge queue awaited me at the Schengen immigration as there seems to be a Chinese tour group coming in prior to our arrival. Though our early arrival into Warsaw meant I had no worry on catching the next flight, but it did take me at least 40 minutes to pass through the immigration and there was only the usual questions asked over the counter.
Boeing 787 that brought me to Europe
If not for the low price advertised for LOT flights into Europe, I would not have taken this flight. And having experienced this flight proper, I have to say it is probably the worse Business Class flight I have ever taken. The cabin and seats were reasonably clean but it stops there. The meal was quite underwhelming, the service nearly non-existent. They might as well have set up a food counter up front and be done with it. There was nothing memorable in the end, and I am somehow not very excited to fly the return flight on LOT sometime in spring 2016.