Every year we go on an annual trip to Asia, this time we decided to visit family in Taipei before returning to Thailand. We were planning on heading to Bali but due to the volcanic activity we redirected to Phuket/Ko Phi Phi.
This flight report covers the following trips:
SFO - YVR in Business on Air Canada -Here Maple Leaf Lounge / YVR - TPE in Business on Air Canada -YOU ARE HERE TPE - BKK in Business on Thai Airways -Here BKK - HKT in Economy on Thai Airways -Here HKT - BKK in Business on Thai Airways -Here BKK - TPE in Business on Thai Airways -Here TPE - YVR in Business on Air Canada -Here YVR - SFO in Business on Air Canada -Here
I had read that Air Canada had been trying to reposition itself as a hub choice for US travelers so we took this opportunity to try out transiting in Vancouver before making the jump across the pond.
We landed in Vancouver about ten minutes early from our connection from SFO and we had three hours before our long haul flight to Taipei.
We decided to head out to the Maple Leaf Lounge after clearing transit checks that appeared to be right after security in the international terminal.
The lounge was bright and inviting, a huge step up from the domestic lounge. There was an upstairs area but it was roped off when we arrived at the lounge.
There was a nice bar but it was closed… it opened at 11:00 AM.
There was a nice view of two gates… here is the view of one of them.
The food area has breakfast set-up. Choices were eggs and sausages. Strange thing we noticed, they took away all the breakfast items at 9:30 AM. I asked the head person in charge when lunch would be out and she told me at 11:00 AM, a whole 90-minutes with nothing out to eat aside from some whole fruit and crackers. I thought it was so strange, especially with the large amount of Asian flights departing at the time. I also asked about alcohol and apparently it's illegal in BC to serve it before 11:00 AM. :(
The bathrooms were clean, there were showers but I didn't check them out.
There was a charging station which was a nice touch.
AC11 YVR - TPE
We walked the 10 minutes or so to our departure gate.
We boarded first with other AC elites, Star Alliance Gold and business class passengers. It was rather nice and non-chaotic which I typically expect it to be.
Here is a pic of the bird that would be taking us across the pacific. Registered C-TRFU, the Boeing 787-9 was only seven months old in the new AC livery which I am a huge fan of.
While boarding, I got a peek of the small premium economy section of the plane which was equipped with 21 recliner seats. It looked comfy but I was glad I was turning left instead of right.
My seat would be 3k for the flight. There were 30 seats in the business class cabin in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone configuration. The cabin looked fresh, clean and modern. The seats measured 21 inches wide with 80 inches of pitch and a bed that fully reclined to 180 degrees.
At each seat were slippers, ovearear noise cancelling and in-ear headphones, a pillow, a blanket, an amenity kit and a bottle of water. The seats seemed comfortable although a tad narrow. Also - there was a large bulge in the seat belt for the airbag.
Pre-departure beverages were offered, choices were sparkling wine, apple or orange juice, or water. The IFE screen was large and HD which was nice. The controller was located in the armrest stowage area along with a USB and headphone plugs.
Menus were distributed that would outline the service for the flight. Lunch and a small brunch would be served prior to landing in TPE.
The amenity kit was made of a felt material and didn't contain anything too special.
Thank lord for the individual air vents.
We pushed back on-time and the business class cabin was about 90% full for the flight. Flight time was 12 hours and 25 minutes.
Here is a video of our takeoff role from YVR.
The cabin crew came into the aisle with their trolleys (decorated in lights for the holiday). Warm nuts were offered along with a beverage. I opted for the champagne. One thing I thought was odd was that they served sparkling wine (not on the menu) while on the ground and champagne in the air.
Here is the view of the bathroom immediately near the second starboard door. If you were seated on the starboard side of the aircraft you were directed to door 2 behind you for the bathroom. If you were sitting on the port side of business class you went forward to the bathroom right behind the cockpit which had no window. Heavy curtains partitioned off the various areas. The bathroom was nice, spacious and had a window in it which was a bonus. Premium economy passengers had the bathroom right after the port boarding door.
Here's a gorgeous view of the GEnx engine from the bathroom window.
Meal service started about 30-minutes into the flight. I went with the sablefish (which the FA recommended) and it was delicious. I found the food to be quite tasty and not super filling which is good on a long flight.
Meal service was complete roughly 90-minutes after take off and the cabin crew dimmed the electrochromic windows to near darkness since we would be flying in daylight for the whole 12 or so hours. I found the cabin crew attentive and very friendly especially given that it was Christmas Eve. They were in a celebratory mood and kept the champagne/wine/etc flowing.
A little more about the seat, there was a screen where you could control the functions of the seat like lighting, recline, hardness of the seat and service requests.
The IFE was great, up-to-date, it was the same content as on the domestic flight in terms of movies and shows with additional expanded content about arrival locations as well as well as additional games.
I soon reclined the seat into lie flat mode and managed to sleep roughly 3-5 hours on and off. I awoke with roughy 5 hours to go and was asked if I would like a snack. I decided to get the hot noodle soup with shrimp and pork wontons with gai lan and the dim sum plate. The noodles were of the instant variety with wontons and veggies added. The dim sum was ok, the skins had become rather mushy. All in all, the snack was satisfying and hit the spot.
It was around this time that I did a lap around the plane to stretch my legs. I went down the starboard side and back up the port side. The flight was rather full and most people were sleeping. I found the aisles pretty narrow and nearly tripped on a few errant legs in the aisle. I can't imagine being a cabin crew and having to work the aisles. When I got back up to the front the pilot was also stretching his legs and mentioned to me that there was a gorgeous view of Mount Fuji outside the port side of the aircraft. He was right and the pic was gorgeous.
I dozed off for another hour or so and then it was nearly time for arrival into Taipei and the pre-arrival meal.
The linens and trays were distributed and the choice of entrees were served from a cart which I thought was interesting. Overall, the options didn't look at that appetizing.
Here is a gorgeous view of the engine again from the bathroom prior to landing.
I also found out why there were smaller in-ear headphones at the seat in addition to over the ear headphones. The over ear headphones were collected prior to landing in Taipei and the smaller in-ear headphones allowed passengers to continue to use the IFE through descent and landing.
We touched down into Taipei a few minutes ahead of schedule and I got these shots of Taoyuan International Airport.
We deplaned first and went through immigration which took roughly 30-45 minutes.
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, International
Vancouver - YVR
Taipei - TPE
This was my first trip in international long haul on Air Canada. I found the aircraft to be fantastic and very comfortable for the journey (given it was only a few months old). The seat was comfortable in both seated and lay flat positions and it made the 12.5 hour journey fly by. I found the seats to be way more comfortable than the new seats on Thai's 787-9. The catering was great but nothing memorable in my opinion, there was certainly enough food to eat that you never went hungry. I found the cabin crew to be absolutely fantastic, attentive and very friendly.
One thing I also wanted to note was that the 787's lower cabin pressure is very noticeable after such a long flight. I've flown on the 787 for long and ultra long haul (SFO-SIN-SFO) and arrived refreshed and without headaches.
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