The airline with the best average rating is Air Canada with 7.4/10.
The average flight time is 4 hours and 44 minutes.More information
This is my first trip report so please be gentle! I'm afraid this won't yet be up to the standards of most trip reports that are featured here, especially when you look at some of the very best author's on here like Hometoyyz, Socalnow, rewardflying and so many others.
When I flew this flight I had never heard of this website, so the photos featured here are simply a collection of phone snaps that I took to remember the flight.
This flight was a special one for me as it was my first time in Business Class. A long held dream to finally turn left and for once to sit in the nice comfy seats and not simply forlornly pass them by on my way to economy!
I have to say that I was warned that once you turn left and experience the joys of flying at the pointy end there is no way back. Typically I thought that was nonsense and of course since then I've not set foot in economy again! To me flying in Business isn't all about the seat and the fancy food, its all about the whole experience from start to finish, you actually feel like you are being treated like a human and dare I say it, actually makes flying enjoyable. It is sadly more of a testament to how unbearable most airlines have made the economy experience these days than anything else.
Since that flight I've since learned of the magic of hunting cheap J fares (Asia offers some remarkable value) and the magic of points and miles. Words like reverse-herringbone and transfer bonus are now part of my daily vernacular!
Since this flight (and the return which was originally in Premium Economy, which we were able to bid upgrade to Business on!) I've sampled International Business Class and the magic of some of the World's top airlines on a 13 flight adventure around Asia - which I will report on shortly.
While this report will be lacking much, there is at least one thing that will be a bit unique and that's the views of the arrival into YVR taken up front from the flightdeck of the 787-9.
I'm an Air Traffic Controller at YYZ, so that and a letter from the Director of Flight Operations allowed me access to the flightdeck. It's always a joy to sit at the very front and I was fortunate to have been able to enjoy the company of a truly superb crew. I learned a lot about the 787 and what it is capable of and it was a fun and memorable experience.
I hope this flight report despite its limitations is enjoyable and that you will find my future reports of a much higher standard.
This is a wonderful website with some really talented members, thank you to everyone who has contributed to this site and the many hours of pleasure I have gained from reading such a diverse collection of airlines and cabins.
Airline: Air Canada
Flight Number: AC103
Departure: Toronto YYZ
Departure Time: 0823
Arrival: Vancouver YVR
Arrival Time: 1014
Flight Time: 04:51
Travel Date: Friday 3 November 2017
Class: Business Domestic
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9
As we had an early departure we decided to stay the night before at the Hilton Toronto Airport. I managed to redeem 30,000 HHonours points for the free night. The hotel was certainly pleasant enough, it had a nice pool and the room was just fine, including a very nice view over Runways 24R and 24L at Pearson.
Early on the morning on the 3rd we checked out and grabbed the hotel shuttle to T1, the Star Alliance mega terminal at YYZ.
The day had finally arrived and my excitement was off the charts. Although this was a simple domestic flight in Business, something many frequent fliers deal with on a daily basis, for me it was a first time to sample Business Class.
My only other experiences of anything that wasn't bare bones Economy was Westjet Plus on their 767 from YYZ-MBJ-YYZ and World Traveller Plus on British Airways 772 from YYZ-LHR-YYZ. Those experiences were nice enough and left me wanting a little more.
I had got a small taste of what its like to travel in a slightly more Premium way and it was time to push to boat out. Looking at the reviews of Air Canada Business it was clear to me that for our flights to Vancouver it had to be on a widebody as I wanted to fly in those magnificent looking pods. An A321 was not going to do!
My trip was for work related reasons but they only covered the cost of the economy ticket. I paid to bring my wife along and also to upgrade us to Business.
I chose flights on the 787-9 both ways Business outbound and Premium Economy back, with the plan to try Air Canada's bid upgrade to see if we could get into J on the return as well. The return was changed to a Boeing 777-300ER but both our upgrades cleared and we ended up in J both ways.
We arrived at T1 around 0530 as we wanted to maximise the total experience including the lounge. Although I knew Air Canada's Domestic Maple Leaf lounge was no "Cathay Pier at HKG" it was still something we were looking forward to.
Air Canada Business Class passengers have access to a dedicated check in area at YYZ and the area was deserted when we got there. Being the J Class virgins we were we stopped to take some pictures of ourselves at the area, barely able to believe we were about to enter this World that had always seemed so far out of reach.
My boarding pass that I printed at home when I did the online check in the day before. Rookie mistake of course not getting a real boarding pass on proper stock!
We were done with check in formalities in a flash, I can't even begin to describe the tragic amount of glee I got from seeing the Star Alliance priority tag going on my bag. What on Earth was happening to me!
Then we headed to the Fast Track security lane which at that time of the day had the same amount of people in it as the regular one (ie: zero) and we made our way giddily towards the Maple Leaf lounge.
Since this flight I've now had 14 additional flights in Business and also 2 flights in Air Transat "Club" class, so obviously its not all so new any more but I tell you what its still as exciting as heck. I don't think I'll ever take flying for granted and certainly not being lucky enough to fly in Premium cabins. It really is a whole different experience, one that I love and will forever feel grateful to be able to partake in for as long as I'm able.
The entrance to the lounge appeared at the top of the elevator like a mythical oasis! I had heard of Airline lounges before but had never been in one. They always seemed to be for other people, but here we were heading for the entrance.
Outside were 2 models that I would have quite happily made off with had I had anywhere to hide them.
A stunning 737MAX8 rather oddly in the old Air Canada livery (of course no MAX8 would ever wear this livery) and an even more magnificent 787-9 model in the current scheme. I stood in awe of it for way too long, wondering about the logistical challenges of sneaking it away without being caught.
The lounge was fine. At the time it was of course the best thing ever but since then I've had my expectations re-calibrated. Still this is a decent lounge that serves its purpose well.
I was delighted to see a decent hot breakfast spread as I was fearful it would be just a selection of cold foods and cereal. I managed to grab a couple of helpings of my favourite breakfast items of sausages and hash browns and was quite pleased with my morning feast. Sadly no beans but getting a full English breakfast was pushing my hopes beyond realism!
Plenty of tea, coffee and soft drinks were available of course but sadly Ontario's archaic licensing laws meant no booze. I'm not an alcoholic by any means but I can't deny being a little ticked off that I couldn't take full advantage of Air Canada's hospitality……….It is after all always 5pm somewhere in the World!
The seating areas were varied and plentiful and quite comfy. We spent the time using the fast free wifi, eating and drinking and generally soaking in the whole experience.
Compared to our usual Terminal experiences of crowded restaurants and heaving gates this was a little slice of heaven. While the lounge filled rapidly as all the more veteran fliers arrived much closer to their various departure times it never got crowded or unpleasent and overall we left the lounge highly satisfied and enjoying our taste of the "high life"!
The eagle eyed among you will spot that the IFE screen has the wrong flight number!
Not sure why as the aircraft had arrived several hours earlier from Mumbai. It was however corrected before departure!
We arrived at the gate prior to the announced boarding time. I'm not sure why I do this, but I've always hated rushing or leaving things late when I'm travelling. I'd rather get there way early and have time to kill rather than having to run around and rush through things living life on the edge.
Boarding time arrived and there was no 787 at the gate. Clearly we were not going anywhere soon although the gate lice were already in full swing. At this point I was getting worried about my first world problem.
Being the most huge avgeek I had been longing to fly on the 787. Earlier in the year our flight from LHR-YYZ was booked on a 787-9 with BA and as this would be my first time on the revolutionary aircraft I was of course super excited. Imagine my disappointment when 2 days before our flight was changed to a 777-200, which I'd already flown on many times. It got even worse when we got to LHR and saw not only was it a 777 but it was a 777 so old that it wasn't even an ER variant but G-ZZZC which was among the first 777s ever built. An aviation antique!
So I was starting to dread a lat minute swap again and fully expecting to see a 777 turn up at the gate just to dash my hopes one more cruel time.
After way too long of refreshing FR24 and Flightaware she appeared. C-FRTU was towed onto Gate 124 and I probably let out a small yelp of joy. As the gate agents constantly reminded us this flight was full and they were looking for anyone to gate check bags.
We were running slightly late at this point but boarding started around 07:45 so we were not going to be far off our 08:00 scheduled departure.
Group 1 was called and for the first time that meant me!
The boarding pass was scanned and off we went down the jetway to door L1 and while it wasn't the glorious left turn we often hear about it was quite the sight when I cleared the galley and entered the cabin with all those incredible looking seats.
As mentioned before the only time I've ever been in one of these cabins is to make the walk down to the back so be finally able to take my place in one of the seats seemed so utterly unreal. Was this really me doing this?
I couldn't believe the space. My feet couldn't even reach the footrest with the seat upright. There were cubbies everywhere, a huge table and a massive screen. The inane grin on my face probably made me stand out like a sore thumb as a Business Class virgin.
Like a child at Christmas I played with the seat and checked out all the features.
There was a nice storage area for my documents and phone, complete with USB and Power outlets and a handset for controlling the IFE.
Below that was some seat controls that were super intuitive and responsive. Presets for upright and lie flat were located on buttons and the touch panel allowed for adjustment of each part of the seat. It was also located in a spot where you couldn't accidentally nudge it with hands or elbows. The seat was superb. It was comfortable and I employed a range of positions from upright to relax to fully flat.
The privacy inside the pod was first rate, it was almost impossible to see anyone else and it truly felt like being in my own little World.
We were offered a pre-departure beverage which was water or juice, much to my disappointment Air Canada doesn't cater champagne on domestic flights. I made do with some Apple juice and sat there just trying to take it all in.
The crew was hard at work, every seat on the aircraft was taken. Full load in all cabins and even 2 staff on the cockpit jumpseats.
I'd heard some less than complimentary things about AC crew from time to time but the crew taking care of us were wonderful.
We pushed back at 08:23 some 23 minutes late and despite being November it was relatively mild and no de-icing was required.
Taxi was to Runway 23 and with little to no wait we turned onto the runway and took off. I was surprised at the relatively long take off roll, finally getting airborne just abeam the FedEx facility and we made our way into the partly cloudy skies, turning North West on an AVSEP3 SID.
Not long after take off the crew started the service.
I can't say too much about the food service as breakfast is my least favourite meal of the day. In fact when at home I don't usually bother with it, so its not really fair for me to comment too much on the quality of the breakfast here.
The best I could say was it was OK, to be honest I was glad I'd had a decent feed in the lounge.
I hate eggs so the omelette was out and I chose the pancakes. They were actually not bad at all to be fair, although rookie mistake #2 I forgot to take a picture of it.
I did take a shot of the fruit plate that everyone was served…………..
A nice cup of tea and some more Apple juice as well as some delicious bread came with it all. Considering my dislike of breakfast I was pretty happy with the whole meal. No complaints about Air Canada catering.
Side note, on our return flight I had a dinner that featured a curry that was one of the best meals I have ever had on an aircraft. It was absolutely superb, and having done 2 more AC flights in J since this one I can honestly say I think Air Canada compares very well with other more highly rated airline's on the food front. I've never been dissatisfied on any AC J flight (and our Asia trip that I will get round to eventually includes flights on Singapore, Garuda, Cathay, Asiana and EVA Air)
Noise cancelling headphones were provided, and while they won't be making Bose lose any sleep they were pretty good, and quite comfy to wear.
I amused myself watching Cars 2 and again reveling in all the awesomeness that flying J is.
Unfortunately AC runs ads before movies. Here you can see the Dreamliner windows in action.
I really loved the 787 windows. I liked that even on the darkest setting it was still possible to see outside. I love to have a window view and with a regular shade its all or nothing. You either have the sunlight blasting in with the view or its dark with no view.
I know not everyone loves them but honestly I did. I found the darkening to be just fine when you wanted to keep the sun out.
After a relaxing few hours, I'd been fed, watched a movie and sat in a comfortable relaxing chair with an incredible view. I was its fair to say in a pretty happy and contented place. Our route was going to be quite far North today so the flight time was on the longer side of average.
AVSEP3 LITMO SSM YRL YXE OVATA BORIX SPRAE BOOTH CANUC4
It was time for a trip to the lavatory and for rookie mistake #3. No shots of the lav or amenities, just this rather wonderful view out of the lav window………..Just look at that wing. #avgeekporn :)
As we headed West past Calgary the First Officer came out to chat with me. One of my friends in the Tower at YYZ had told them I was onboard and how much I was looking forward to giving away my seat in exchange with someone in economy! I'll get him back for that one day!
The FO chatted with me for a bit and was incredibly nice and a total pro. I gave the crew my letter from the Director of Flight ops with my invitation to go up to the room with the best view in the house.
As we approached TOD the purser came to get me and I swapped seats with one of the AC jump seat staffers.
The views even from FL400 of the Rockies were jaw dropping. This became a theme as we got closer and lower. There are simply no words to do justice to how absolutely stunning the Rockie Mountains are.
I had the pleasure of chatting to the crew for a while. I can't stress what great aviators these two were, just a pleasure to spend time with and talk about lots of things regarding the industry, how we interact as pilots and controllers and some of the things the 787 can and can't do.
It was so much fun and I really thank them for accomodating me up front.
Once it was time to join the CANUC4 STAR into YVR it was all business though.
The mountains and North shore visible on approach to 08R
Turning onto the 08R localiser
Final approach to 08R and the Capt has disconnected the autopilot to hand fly
We landed on 08R with a touchdown so gentle that the only clue as to our arrival back on terra firma was the noise of the spoiler handle activating. The super efficient wings of the 787 generate so much lift that the ground effect provides a nice cushion for the flare and touchdown. Still its always remarkable watching the skill of a single person landing a 250 ton machine on a piece of ashphalt no more than 45m wide.
Our taxi in brought us to Gate C52 at YVR and next to what at the time was Air Canada's first 737MAX8.
I asked the crew permission to post my photos in public and they were happy to agree and I bid them a fond farewell as they were due to deadhead to YYC later that day before operating a YYC-LHR flight the next day.
I met up with my wife and we were the last of the J class pax to leave, departing through door L2 and into the YVR domestic terminal.
The end of a flight I won't soon forget.
Vancouver airport must surely be one of the best in North America. It was a beautiful building with some really awesome art. We were at the bag belt in no time and then after just a few minutes our bags appeared and we were on our way to the Fairmont YVR, which might well be the best airport hotel anywhere in the World.
And so ends my first trip report. I hope its been informative and entertaining and I'll try to tame the rookie mistakes going forward - although I did develop a terrible habit of getting so caught up in the experience on our Asia trip that I forgot to take pictures of a lot of our meals!
Hard to judge YYZ too much as we were there very early and as we were flying domestic the whole thing was smooth and fast. We really enjoyed out experience at YYZ (Having subsequently flown International from YYZ T1 I'd again say its a pretty good terminal to fly in and out of, far better I feel than T3)
The lounge was fine, nothing that would cause you to go out of your way to experience but also better than a ton of lounges out there and better than almost all 3rd party lounges.
I found Air Canada's Trans Continental Business Class to be excellent. I'm glad I chose the widebody product as this is a significant improvement over the narrowbody experience. Air Canada has since introduced Signature Business Class and its even better.
If you are looking at a flight with AC in J that offers both narrowbody and widebody service (787 or 777) I would highly recommend the premium and taking the widebody flights if you can. The difference is significant.
I think AC are far and away the best airline in North America although to be fair the bar is not that high.
The seat, the aircraft, the catering and the service were all outstanding and its going to be very interesting to see how Westjet intend to compete when they introduce their 787s in the next couple of months.