Review of Air Canada flight Toronto Bogota in Business

Airline Air Canada
Flight AC962
Class Business
Seat 8A
Flight time 05:30
Take-off 14 Mar 16, 08:35
Arrival at 14 Mar 16, 13:05
AC   #54 out of 141 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 298 reviews
hometoyyz
By SILVER 1961
Published on 14th June 2016
Welcome to another Aeroplan adventure! This time, it’s off for a quick jaunt to Chile with Air Canada and Avianca.

Here’s the rundown

AC962 YYZ-BOG 3/14/2016 - You are here
AV97 BOG-SCL 3/14/2016 - Coming soon
AV98 SCL-BOG 3/16/2016 - Coming soon
AC963 BOG-YYZ 3/16/2016 - Coming soon

There are two purposes for this trip.

1) To “check off” South America, the last inhabited continent I have not visited.
2) To sample Avianca’s business class product, and its 787 offering in particular.

I arrived at Pearson at about 6:30 am for this 8:15 departure. There’s still some novelty to this new look for the domestic/international (ie: non-US) check-in area for premium passengers at YYZ, hidden behind this translucent screen.

photo img_7201

Mostly, it’s just a slightly different look to the same check-in area that’s been here for years.

photo img_7203

With the exception of this new, expanded and more easily-accessible office for the company’s Concierge crew.

photo img_7204

Between the check-in and the concierge office, there’s this large-scale model of the larger end of AC’s upcoming narrowbody refresh, the 737-Max.

photo img_7202

Check-in takes a grand total of about two minutes, and I’ve got boarding passes through to Santiago. Heading towards security, it looks like it’s a zoo for domestic. Not a huge surprise, given that it’s the Monday of March Break for many Toronto-area schools, and given the mess that was the drop-off area outside Terminal 1.

photo img_7205

Fortunately, the security lineup for international was considerably shorter, and within about ten minutes, I was through and on my way down to the end of the “hammerhead” pier at T1. No pictures of the high-speed moving sidewalk to the end this morning, but I’m pleased to report it was in the unusual state of being operational.

It dropped me off at the end of the walkway, just outside the international Maple Leaf Lounge, where my boarding pass is taken, and I’m quickly shown in at around 6:55, about 40 minutes before boarding is due to start.

photo img_7215

The lounge is about as empty as I’ve ever seen it at this hour of the morning. I’ve covered this lounge a bunch of times in the past, so we’ll go quickly through it, especially since it’s a pretty short visit. Here’s one of the main “halls” of the lounge, with some magazines available for those who are interested.

photo img_7206

And the second, smaller “hall” complete with a few PC stations, and a secondary bar area.

photo img_7207

Off to the buffet to see what’s on offer this morning.

photo img_7208

First up is a cold section containing hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, and fruit.

photo img_7209

A nice selection of pastries.

photo img_7210

The MLL’s signature oatmeal.

photo img_7211

And some new options in terms of hot foods. French toast sticks, hash browns, a mushroom and cheese crepe/egg skillet deal, and some pork sausages. Not bad, considering the last time I was in here in breakfast hours, there were basically no hot dishes on offer.

photo img_7212

There are also some (strongly backlit) cereals on the other side, by the bar — which, you’ll notice, is carefully sealed because this is Ontario and it’s not yet 11:00 am.

photo img_7213

There’s also a number of coffee machines, and fountains for juice and soft drinks.

I head back to my seat with my breakfast, trying a bit of everything from the hot items, along with some orange juice. All are quite good, particularly the mushroom/egg/crepe dish.

photo img_7214

I check in on work, and the lounge-specific WiFi is doing good very well this morning. With boarding time showing at 7:35, I head down to the gates at about 7:20, and there are already lines forming, and some passengers in wheelchairs are being loaded.

Sure enough, moments later, Zone 1 boarding is called, my boarding pass is scanned, and I’m on my way down to the plane. The jetway provides me my first look at my ride this morning, one of the increasingly rare 767-300s still assigned to the mainline. A lot of them have been handed over to Rouge.

photo img_7216

Flight: AC962
From: Toronto Pearson (YYZ)
To: Bogota (BOG)
Date: 3/14/2016
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300ER
Registration: C-GHOZ
Seat: 8A
ATD (STD): 08:35 (08:15)
ATA (STA): 13:06 (13:10)

On board, I’m shown to 8A, the port side window in the last row of the mainline 763s. These birds are in a 1-1-1 configuration, so privacy is great, particularly in the A row. The seat is equipped with a good pillow and a nice duvet, but no amenity kit for this short-ish (six-hour) flight down to Bogota, suggesting AC treats this as an international-but-less-than-international flight.

photo img_7217

Legroom is, of course, very good.

photo img_7218

Noise-cancelling headphones are a permanent part of the pod, and mine are hung out here for me. These are generally pretty good, comfortable headphones — the old, uncomfortable Senheisers that were original equipment on these pods were replaced a couple of years ago. This particularly set isn’t doing so well on the left channel, but still good enough to use and spare my own headphones for later.

photo img_7219

Behind the hanging headphones is the (currently stowed) IFE display, and remote control for IFE.

photo img_7220

No bottle of water on the aisle-side drink holder under the right armrest, further showing this is an international-but-not-quite-international flight.

photo img_7221

One of the benefits of 8A and 8K, aside from being the last row of J, is that you’ve got a little closet on the aisle-side behind you, creating a bit more privacy, and also this handy little storage area, which is a big bonus, because these seats are otherwise a bit tight on stowage space.

photo img_7222

Here’s a look across the cabin as boarding continues — as mentioned, it’s a 1-1-1 configuration up front, and part of the privacy benefit is that there’s this half-wall between you and the middle seat.

photo img_7223

But wait… what’s that over the far window seat ahead? Yep, that sure does appear to be deployed oxygen masks. These older 767s — you can tell they’re among AC’s oldest because they have the old-school overhead bins — are really showing their age at this point in many ways.

photo img_7227

Case in point, my winder shutter. It deploys fine, but will only stow raised at this slightly skewed angle.

photo img_7228

At least the IFE system works, and I select and start watching Trust. Pretty good film, and my second journalistic procedural film in less than 24 hours, having watched Spotlight the night before.

photo img_7224

Out the window, this Sunwing 737-800 with split scimiatars is boarding for some Caribbean location, probably.

photo img_7225

The breakfast menu card is handed out to open up service, further confirming this flight is not quite full international spec — this is the same breakfast service as is offered on flights like YYZ to YYC, YVR, LAX and SFO. Orders are taken shortly after by status, and I go with the pancakes, having not had them in a while.

photo img_7226

Pre-departure beverage choices of water or orange juice are offered next.

photo img_7229

About this time, I notice that the O2 mask situation has been resolved, which I’m sure the person sitting in the seat underneath appreciates.

photo img_7230

Outside, as boarding completes, the previous Sunwing 738 is replaced by another Sunwing 738, likely just back from somewhere int he Caribbean.

photo img_7231

The service director comes by and introduced himself to each business class passenger, seemingly doing so by status. It’s a nice gesture, but it would somehow seem more sincere if it wasn’t accompanied by being asked if I’d like anything to buy from on-board duty free after breakfast. I have to say the crew for this flight was very good, though, with attentive service and generally in pretty good spirits. One older female flight attendant in particular seemed in a great mood, joking with passengers throughout the flight.

With boarding complete, the safety video rolls, and we push back. Next to us on the other side are our Rouged twin, and our mainline “big brother.”

photo img_7232

It’s a short taxi towards the runways south of T1, and there’s not much of a wait before we line up and get going into the very overcast sky. Literally a second after snapping the second picture, we were completely shrouded in clouds.

photo img_7235photo img_7238

But soon enough, we break through, and it’s a beautiful sky up here “where the morning rain don’t fall, and sun always shines,” to borrow from Gordon Lightfoot.

photo img_7240

Figuring it’ll be a few minutes before breakfast, I kick back into an almost-reclined position. I still really like these seats for lounging around and watching movies, especially because the screen can be pivoted to just the optimal angle no matter how horizontal you may feel like going.

photo img_7242

Post-takeoff announcement indicate that a hot meal is served in economy, so obviously this flight is to international spec in Y, but treated like a premium domestic/transborder longhaul in J. Interesting, although not inappropriate for the flight length.

In-flight service begins with a hot towel.

photo img_7243

Then the table is set for breakfast — the playful flight attendant “scolds” me for “going to bed” before breakfast, and we have a brief chat about the joy that is getting up early for a flight.

Breakfast is begins with “appetizer” fruit and yogurt tray set-ups being offered, and I notice this crew has written plate orders on masking tape stuck to the trolley. This is important for these flights because the “healthy option” includes a larger, more substantial fruit tray than is the standard. Bread is also offered - and for once is not rock-hard - and drinks are also poured. Coffee and OJ for me.

photo img_7244

When I’m done with the appetizer, the dishes are quickly cleared and my entree is offered. The pancakes are very good this morning. Often, the edges will dry out and become a bit hard in the reheating process, and there’s a bit of that in places, but not as much as is often seen. The rest of them are light and fluffy, and I really like the maple butter used in place of the more traditional butter and maple syrup. Not quite as sweet and not quite as sticky, but still gets the flavour across nicely.

photo img_7245

After breakfast, dishes are quickly cleared. My coffee was kept filled through breakfast and beyond, but after three cups, I decided I’d had enough. I put my seat back into a reclined position, and watched the rest of the movie.

Less than half an hour after breakfast, a water service was offered.

photo img_7246

As Truth comes to an end, I check out progress on the moving map. Yep, we’re making progress alright. According to the map, we’re about 3:30 out of Colombia.

photo img_7247

It’s worth noting one of the annoying habits of this generation of IFE system — the “back” button from the moving map seems to not actually take you back, but to wherever the heck it seems to feel like. This time, it feels like taking me to the Canadian subsection of the Movies collection on the IFE, not tot he screen I had been on before heading over to the map. Not a big deal, but a little odd.

Time for another movie. These are my first March flights, so there are quite a few new titles available under New Releases. Love the Coopers is up next.

It gets off to a good enough start, but soon the temptation to drift off to sleep is a bit too much. After a short nap, I wake up with my friendly flight attendant coming through the snack basket. I grab some goodies for a bit later, and then try to restart my movie.

photo img_7251

Unfortunately, the movie is having none of it. The SD is making his way around taking drink orders. I request a Caesar, and point out that my IFE seems to have frozen. He says that’s the case for a lot of folks, and he’s going to reset the system. Sure enough, a quick visit to the lav later he makes the announcement that resetting IFE will take 15 to 20 minutes and apologizes for the inconvenience.

The lav — there are two for business passengers ahead of the J cabin — is fine and clean mid-flight, but nothing much special to it.

photo img_7248

On my way back from the lav, I overhear the SD on the phone with the flight deck — there are apparently five wheelchair passengers, and a pair of deportees on board. Fun!

Back at my seat, I entertain myself by starting to write this flight-report. Fortunately, the power outlet at my seat still works, so I’m able to keep my notebook battery topped off as I go.

After a quick reminder — the SD apparently forgot my Caesar with the IFE reset — I’m brought a setup to make a couple of drinks for myself, which suits me just fine.

photo img_7252

Meanwhile, the IFE springs back to “life” with this somewhat less than confidence-inspiring message.

photo img_7249

Fortunately, after a minute, it switches to this, so I assume it’s on its way back to usable status.

photo img_7250

Yep, soon enough, it spring back to life, and I check on our status. Less than an hour and thirty minutes out of Bogota.

photo img_7253photo img_7254

I put Love the Coopers back on, settle into a lounge position, and enjoy my snack and drinks for the rest of the flight.

Unfortunately, the flight essentially runs out before the movie does. Just as I’m reaching the end of the film, it’s time to shut things down. One unfortunate fact of this pod setup is the screens must be stowed before 10,000 feet, so no gate-to-gate experience — and no finished movie for me. Serves me right for taking a nap, I suppose.

Outside, we’re clearly well into our descent, and the Colombian countryside outside Bogota rolls by outside my window as we make our way towards the airport.



Touchdown is smooth, and it’s a short taxi. I do get a good look at this Avianca A330 as it’s getting towed by. I think the new Avianca livery is very smart, but this old livery seems so funky to me. I like it.



We settle in next to this Avianca A320, in the new colours, and are quickly let loose into the corridor.

photo img_7263

One last look at my ride down from Toronto before I head off to the next adventure.

photo img_7264

It’s a bit of a hike to the international transit security area, but it’s about the easiest transit ever. They don’t even check my boarding pass to make sure I’m, y’know, on a legitimate international connection or anything. Oh well. Up the elevator and I’m let loose on the international concourse at BOG with a quest to find the Avianca lounge, and a lot of time to kill.

photo img_7267

That’s where we’ll pick up with the next flight report. See you there!
See more

Verdict

Air Canada

7.6/10
Cabin6.5
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Meal/catering7.5

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge International

7.9/10
Comfort7.5
Meal/catering8.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Services8.0

Toronto - YYZ

8.0/10
Efficiency7.5
Access8.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness9.0

Bogota - BOG

7.8/10
Efficiency8.0
Access8.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

It’s a bit disappointing that YYZ-BOG is treated like a domestic/transborder mission in business class, although I guess I can understand why that is. Aside from that, a fine flight with a good crew, albeit on a bit of a decrepit old 767. Still, the J product is decent — the 763 and 333 will be the only planes not migrated to the new pod configuration over the next few months, so the “classic pod” will live on a while longer — although how much longer the 767s remain with the mainline — or even in the air for that matter — is a bit of a question mark.

Related

6 Comments

  • Comment 353155 by
    socalnow GOLD 980 Comments

    Greetings HOMETOYYZ and thank you for another interesting report.

    "To “check off” South America, the last inhabited continent I have not visited."
    -I still need Africa and SA.

    "And some new options in terms of hot foods. "
    -The AC lounges look good int he reports I have read recently. Way ahead of the airlines in the country to the south. I've only visited the FRA MLL myself and I was quite pleased.

    That's a high mileage looking 767 for your international-but-not-quite-international flight." If resetting the IFE is the only fault then it's a good day.

    As I was reading the report I started to become alarmed at the absence of the Caesar. It's moring, there are airplanes and lounges and premium cabins...but no Caesar. Is HOMETOYYZ sick? Did he forget? Is this an impostor? You can imagine my relief when the cocktail (or at least all of the parts) were delivered.

    Thank you again and happy flying.

    • Comment 353253 by
      hometoyyz SILVER AUTHOR 538 Comments

      Thanks for the feedback!

      "-I still need Africa and SA."
      Africa was early -- on a business trip to Joburg a few years ago (my first time), found out that *A had really good CA-ZA J fares on the regular, so I've been a few times. Was more attractive a few years ago when fares were lower, the Canadian dollar wasn't in the toilet, and "Altitude Qualifying Dollars" weren't yet a thing for AC status.

      "-The AC lounges look good int he reports I have read recently. Way ahead of the airlines in the country to the south. I've only visited the FRA MLL myself and I was quite pleased."
      I forget if I've been in the FRA MLL, actually, although from what I've seen, it looks a lot like the LHR MLL. The YYZ international lounge is definitely the best lounge in the AC system (at least that I've been to.) And yeah, decidedly better than UA/AA/DL lounges in the US. And AC hasn't (yet) got US airlines-style stupid about lounge access for its own elites on domestic/transborder missions...

      "That's a high mileage looking 767 for your international-but-not-quite-international flight." If resetting the IFE is the only fault then it's a good day."
      AC's 767s are definitely getting long in the tooth. But then, I suppose most 767s are at this point. AC's got such a hodge podge of these planes from different sources at different points -- it used to (I'm not sure if it still does) have a few eight-door versions amongst its fleet of mostly four-doors and four overwing exits.

      Glad I didn't shock you too much with the lack of Caesars. For some reason, I find it hard to get past the idea of hard booze before breakfast. Champagne, though, is perfectly okay on international missions. And once the breakfast dishes are cleared, it's time to start pouring!

  • Comment 353173 by
    757Fan 584 Comments

    Great report of your experience with Air Canada. Looks like you had a nice flight with them in J!

    I always like to have Breakfast on planes, but it definitely isn't as much served in the premium cabins when it's not dinner or lunch ... The food looks tasty though, and it's nice that they served the fruit appetizer separately to the main course.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 353255 by
      hometoyyz SILVER AUTHOR 538 Comments

      Thanks for the feedback!

      I quite enjoy AC's J breakfasts, even if the rotation of omelette or fruit and oatmeal (plus pancakes on select premium longhauls) hasn't changed much in years... and I almost invariably will buy myself an omelet if I'm in Y and they still have some left over when they get to me.

  • Comment 353180 by
    Chibcha 432 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR...the AC flight to BOG is one of the less documented flights on the internet, one wonders how it is.

    Was the occupation good? I bet AC is having problems filling these planes now that the economy is slowing down here in Colombia and particularly the mining and oil industries are struck (that's where most Canadian investment is)

    Saludos!

    • Comment 353257 by
      hometoyyz SILVER AUTHOR 538 Comments

      Thanks for the feedback!

      The flight was pretty full in front, and it seemed like a decent load in the back. Of course, it helps that this is only a 4x weekly service most of the year, with "peak" service at 5x... and that it's the only direct YYZ-BOG service. (The only direct Canada-BOG service? Not sure about that....) AV flies to Toronto, but only to Costa Rica and El Salvador. So I guess there's no market for additional seats, or I'm sure AV would at least assign a 319 or something.

      I wonder if they sell enough to keep it on the 763, or if they're stuck with the 763 because the service spec includes meals in the back? I'm not sure if the A320-family, as currently configured by AC, could deal with a full load of meals in Y.

Login to post a comment.