This is going to be my first report on FlightReport, a site I only discovered after the flight I am going to review, so I will not have the splendid pictures others put in…oh well.
Wanting to travel from Germany to Western Canada for vacation I jumped at the opportunity to book our ride aboard the AC 788 in Premium Economy. Although there are direct connections from FRA to all major Canadian airports, I wished to try out their new product.
The arrival in LHR after an uneventful LH flight with quick, efficient service with an “who cares” attitude by the crew was followed by passport checks in LHR and a quick walk to our Gate for departure. As T2 is currently undergoing renovations (?) the airport experience did not live up to my expectations of LHR – but having been there less than 50 mins, that wasn’t an issue.
Boarding for AC 851 was somewhat unorganized, as passengers did not seem to understand the “Zone boarding concept” and your boarding pass was checked three times before entering the aircraft. Once we had passed that particular hurdle I was surprised by how truly different the 788 boarding experience is! When you step into the middle galley it seemed to be more a crossover between a lounge and a galley, really, appearing spacious, clean and friendly while emitting this “cool Canadian” charm which is unique to AC.
Having been pointed to the right side of the aircraft to take our seats in row 14 (K&H) I could not hide my surprise as to how well AC has done the Premium Economy Cabin.
The cabin contains three rows 12, 13, 14 with in a 2X3X2 configuration. Row 12 does not have as large screens and no movable or immovable footrests. They are also having only one window and the toilet bulkhead in front. Every seat comes equipped with IFE and USB plus power outlets and a removeable remote control. Tables fold out of the armrest and one has a little cocktail table between the two armrests. Windows are hughe and one touch on the dim control dims both windows associated with your window seat (neat feature). Even with dimmed windows one still can look out but not discern any great detail of landscape underneath the plane.
Premium Eco shares the washrooms with Business; as such I would think them to be a bit better than the normal economy bathrooms, but I did not visit them on this flight. Awesome is that the washrooms have windows so you can take pictures out of both without bothering your cabin with an open shader!
Cabin is seperated to business cabin by washrooms and galley and to economy by a bulkhead and curtains.
Cabin crew service was quick and overall polite except when I asked if one of them would mind terribly to reduce the force of the air coming out of the air condition system, as it was very cold air blasted at you from above. I only got an eye roll and "The captain will take care of that right away" from the female FA. I ended up wearing my hat, jacket and a scarf while also being covered in a blanket and wearing the Air Canada socks over my own. Surprisingly, somewhere over Greenland they turned it down and I was able to remove almost all of my additional clothing.
Inflight service consisted of the "welcome drink" (water or juice) in a plastic cup, a foil wrapped collection of salted nuts, two bottles of water (which I did not recieve-but when I asked about them I got two real glasses with water for me and my father, that were kept well filled all flight long) and a hot meal (see pictures below for the menu and food). The quality was very good. Over Greenland we recieved most fittingly a cup of vanilla icecream as inflight snack. Before Calgary we recieved an "air canada signature" wrap and another selection of drinks from the trolley. All drinks were available throughout the flight with the FAs checking on you in 30 min intervalls (not bothering you, just walking by and looking at you with an expectant friendly smile).
The seats are quite comfy and even in row 14 you have ample space to settle down and move the back of your seat. The footrest is nice and height adjustable. One has a ton of space when compared with Economy. I could not sleep on those seats, as I can never sleep while sitting but it was comfortable enough to see me through 9 hrs aboard.
London - LHR
Calgary - YYC
Whereas LH emphasises the ECONOMY in Premium Eco, Air Canada emphasizes PREMIUM. From what I have seen with AC business, the AC PE seems to be a light version for the budgeted business traveller or the over budgeted leisure traveller. Nice are the legroom, the exclusivity and the two pieces of luggage à 23 kg. Service is mixed, contains elements of business (service level, quality of hot meal, cutlery and china) but also of economy (wrap, plastic cups for breakfast wrap and as welcome drink). Will fly AC in that cabin definitly again soon!
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