This series of flight reports chronicles my journey from Europe back to North America. The first portion of the flight was purchased from a cheap LOT fare sale between Zurich and Toronto, with a continuing flight to Vancouver on AC on a separate ticket. Like my previous TR, the journey can also be read in my blog for the original format.
The flights for this journey was as follow: LX1348 ZRH-WAW - Please read it here LO045 WAW-YYZ - Please read it here AC149 YYZ-YVR - Current report
I spent the night in an airport hotel near Toronto's Pearson airport and spent most of the morning wandering around Toronto. Later in the afternoon, I returned to the airport to get ready for my next flight to Vancouver.
Premium Check-in area for Air Canada
Air Canada has their own special business class check in area that is sleekly decorated and best of all, premium economy passengers and Star Alliance Gold members get to use it as well. This closed off check-in area was empty when I visited and it has plenty of space including a sofa area to settle down after getting your boarding pass.
Sofa and red carpet in the Premium area
With plenty of empty counters when I arrived, I was checked-in immediately and the whole process was quick since I am on a domestic flight between Vancouver and Toronto. Unfortunately, I did not get any window seats as they were all occupied when I wanted to choose my seats the previous night. However this was not a big deal for a night flight.
Check-in counters for Business Class
Premium security line was short since it was a weekend and there was less business travellers and I got through in no time. From there, I took the elevator to the domestic maple leaf lounge.
Maple Leaf lounge branding in Toronto Pearson
There was several staff members operating the reception desk so that enabled multiple guests to be processed for entry at once, shortening the queue to get inside.
Upon entering into the lounge, I discovered it to be crowded as hell and it was tough getting a nice seat. The main lounge is on the left of the reception desk and a bar counter awaits with open lounge seats.
The bar counters have a selection of Canadian beers on tap, a nice variety of red and white wines, soft drinks and mini packs of pretzel snacks. They are usually good enough for North American lounges and this would be the space for guests with short layovers who just want some snacks and drinks.
Wines and pretzel snack
Along the walkway to the centre of the lounge, there is a row of magazine shelves. Inside there was a good variety of magazines stocked with several titles specific to business and management.
Magazine shelves along the walkway
Beyond that, there is the main dining section with a buffet counter and a long communal table with bar stools. Behind the table, there is the espresso machines and another bar counter for drinks and beer.
Long dining table and bar counter
As usual, the domestic Maple Leaf lounges seems to have better food overall as the buffet counter has some soup, salads, cookies, pasta and nachos with dips.
Soup and drink
Mixed salad plate
Nachos and dips
The main seating area in the lounge has a curved window overlooking the tarmac and watching the sunset in the lounge is a pretty neat way to spend the afternoon. However there is some sort of balcony outside so guests does not get a direct view of the airplanes.
Sunset view from the lounge
At the end of the lounge, there are some of the best seats in the house with winged back armchairs facing the windows that comes with their own ottomans. These type of seats are my favourite place to lounge as there are also power plugs around to work in the lounge while relaxing.
Seats by the window
Besides the main lounge, there are restrooms and shower rooms that guests could request to use. There is also several workstations and private meeting rooms that business travellers could use. While the lounge was quite busy overall, the staff were quite efficient in clearing plates and the tables along the way.
Since I arrived at the airport early and had some time to spare, I did have some food in the lounge and have to say I enjoyed the food here better than the Maple Leaf Lounge in the International Terminal. However both lounges are equally crowded and busy. That means it is not really a lounge that guests would want to spend more than an hour in. Otherwise the amenities and services in the lounge was adequate for a domestic service and probably quite good compared to the pitiful domestic lounge offerings by other North American carriers.
Lounge side table
I was quite excited for this flight as I had high expectations for my first flight on Air Canada's 787 which was announced a few years back. Thus I head out earlier from the crowded Maple Leaf lounge to take some photos of the plane from the gate.
Air Canada 787 on the tarmac
AC149 Toronto Pearson YYZ - Vancouver YVR STD-STA: 1900-2110 Actual: 1950-2108 Boeing 787-8 C-GHPT Gate A16 Seat 4D
Boarding was called by zones indicated on the boarding pass, though it was tough to see the zone queue as the gate area was crowded. After a photo ID check at the gate, I was let through onto the cabin.
Air Canada logo in the cabin
Seat 4A onboard Air Canada's 787
The 787 cabin was a huge step up for Air Canada and it is nicely decorated, making it instantly my favourite amongst the other 787 I have taken. While the colour scheme is a boring gray, it works very well with the red Maple Leaf logo of the airline.
Business class seat
On the seat there was a pillow, duvet set and a small puny pair of headphones. Rummaging through the multiple storage areas, I found the remnants of the previous flight's menu and a Jewish newspaper indicating this plane arrived from Air Canada's flight to Tel Aviv. The seat looks bare and maybe the crew did not do a thorough job in clearing the cabin, so that did let down the nice new cabin a little bit.
Business Class seat on 4D
Drinks choices of orange juice or water was offered but they were served in plastic cups. For an upgraded cabin, it seems the airline has yet to upgrade the service.
Pre-departure orange juice
Then menus were distributed and orders for dinner taken while waiting for boarding. The list of food for the flight was as follow:
There was a slight delay for take off as the first officer needed to be replaced and another round of drinks were offered. This time round they came on glassware. But no newspapers were offered to the fully occupied cabin on the ground. While waiting on the ground, I checked out the storage around the seat. This is a very nicely designed reverse herringbone seat with space for small items like wallets, keys and glasses beside the armrest. The entertainment controls are also located inside this small storage area. A touch screen control for the seats and lighting are located outside this storage space and they are all easily accessible while seated.
Seat controls and remote
The lack of proper headphones for this trans-continental flight in Business class was also disappointing as I would have expected a proper over-the-ear headphones rather than these small ones commonly found in Economy class cabins.
Cheap set of headphones
With the herringbone cabin and aisle access from every seat, the cubicle for the feet was still quite spacious and there are even more storage space by the leg. There is also a retractable armrest on my left that can be hidden to allow easier exit into the aisle. On the right, there is a privacy divider in case you are not travelling with the other passenger next to you.
Legroom in the seat
The safety instruction card and inflight magazines are stored in the compartment beside the legrest that is easily accessible as well. There is another compartment on the left for newspapers and the inflight menu as the leftover ones can be seen in the photo above. Another note I would like to make is that Air Canada still makes some great inflight magazines!
Safety instruction card for the 787
The novelty of being in a new cabin meant I did not really mind the extra wait on the tarmac and the mood lighting on Boeing's new jets certainly improved the ambience inside the plane. Thus it made for a pleasant wait as I lounged in the seat, reading some magazines I brought along with me from the lounge.
Business Class cabin on the 787
About half an hour past our scheduled departure, we finally pushed back and made for the slow taxi to the runway, meaning we took off nearly an hour behind schedule. I turned towards the inflight entertainment system after take-off and found the options to be decent but not leading in any sense.
The crew came around with warm towels before asking for drink orders. I had a glass of ginger ale along with a ramekin of warm cashews. Since I was a bit hungry due to the wait, I asked for extra cashews while I waited for the main meal.
Warm towel service before dinner
Prosciutto and cantaloupe, with mixed greens salad, sun-blushed tomatoes, cheese, and balsamic olive oil dressing
Moving to the main course, I had selected the curry chicken dish. This was a mistake since the curry had no kick at all and it was disappointing considering the number of Indian immigrants in Canada. The chicken pieces were also tough and dry so I did not like the main course at all. In general the main course onboard Air Canada are usually not very good in my past experiences.
Green curry chicken served with rice pilaf, carrots and edamame beans
However I was looking forward to dessert service as I liked the cookies Air Canada serves. It took quite a while before the cabin crew came out to offer desserts, and passengers could just doze off while waiting. Maybe it was the strategy of Air Canada'"/> Dessert service of fruits, ice cream and warm cookies with a cup of coffee
After the meal, I converted the seat to a lie-flat bed since the cabin light was dimmed. I utilized the duvet that was included and noticed the whole seat was comfortable enough for a Business class cabin and I certainly would not mind being in this seat for a long haul flight to Asia or Europe from Canada.
Seat converted to a bed
The touch-screen controls on the armrest was also good to control the lighting around the seat. There are reading lights, lights on the footwell to make it easier to look for your shoe or fallen objects, and an ambient light for the divider. I think these lights create a cool touch to the overall cabin. Eventually, I fell asleep halfway into the flight as we cruised past Saskatchewan.
Touch-screen lighting controls
Cabin dimmed for sleeping
I had a nice nap all the way until the captain announced our descent into Vancouver. Landing was a bit rough and there was a bit of turbulence too on our descent but we did land safely without incident. Upon our arrival, the stewardess mentioned our on-time arrival was due to the the fact the aircraft is '"/> Map of the flight
Service onboard this flight was standard and for a full flight in Business class, it was efficient enough and I think most passengers did get their choice of meals. However the overall amenities was lacking for a Business class flight, and aside from the new seat, Air Canada still needs to upgrade their food and amenities for it to be on-par with the Asian carriers.
Inflight entertainment screen"/>
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Domestic
Toronto - YYZ
Vancouver - YVR
Air Canada has a wonderful new cabin on the 787 and it was fantastic for the domestic trans-continental ride. However the airline is still low on amenities and service which I find to be slightly below compared to other North American airlines. I have had better service onboard Air Canada before and this particular set of crew is just average. Catering is another weak point for Air Canada as their main courses are below par consistently, and the saving grace is their cookies and ice cream dessert. If you can get past the catering and lacklustre service, the flight on a 787 upfront is one of the best way to get across the continent in North America!
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