Review of Air Canada flight Toronto Vancouver in Business

Airline Air Canada
Flight AC101
Class Business
Seat 8K
Aircraft Boeing 787-9
Flight time 04:00
Take-off 14 Apr 22, 07:18
Arrival at 14 Apr 22, 08:18
AC   #10 out of 70 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 333 reviews
hometoyyz
By BRONZE 1562
Published on 14th April 2022

Introduction


I figured it was time to get back at it.

Having returned to flying on some domestic trips over the last couple of months, I decided it was time to get back into flight reporting.

So join me, won't you, as I take a day trip to Vancouver in Air Canada's Signature Service Business class. 


the rundown


Routing

  • AC101 - Business - Toronto → Vancouver - 787-9 You are here
  • AC184 - Business - Vancouver → Toronto - 777-300ER Coming soon

photo yyz-yvrmap

Booking and Upgrading


In the before-times, longtime readers may recall I had shifted my loyalties to Delta. But in early 2020, I decided to attempt to get the last 100,000 or so miles I need to earn Million Miler status with Air Canada and the lifetime 50K (Star Alliance Gold) status that comes with it.

So when I started flying again this year, it made sense to fly Air Canada, especially since I was flying domestically. And then, Air Canada introduced a status that doubles status measures (qualifying miles, segments, and dollars) for flights from January to April. And suddenly, I was quickly climbing the ladder. I had 25K status with Air Canada from 2020. That was "extended" for 2021 and 2022. Then it was bumped up to 35K at the start of 2022 due to my spending on an AC co-branded Amex last year. And with some transcon flying early in the year, I suddenly had 50K status earned, 75K on the way as soon as flights I have already flown clear the promo, and Super Elite 100K within reach. With that in mind, I booked this one-day return to Vancouver on a pair of widebody aircraft, which would (if I did the math right) mean I'd make SE as soon as the promotional miles all come through. Once again, just when I think I've made it out, they pull me back in. The flight was booked in Air Canada's "Comfort" brand class, which offers 115% earnings, and is refundable just in case plans change. I applied for upgrades to business class using eUpgrades immediately upon booking, and the upgrade on this flight cleared at my 10-day window as a 50K. 

It also gives me a chance to offer a review on Air Canada's North American Signature Service. I have written several YYZ-YVR and VV widebody reviews. But they all pre-date Air Canada re-branding its international business class service as Signature Class and upgrading the service offered on domestic/transborder widebody business class to something closer to international Business Class and re-branding it as Signature Class. 


Arriving at Pearson, Check-in and Security


It's a not-very-bright but early Canadian spring morning as I arrive at Pearson's Terminal 1. Travel is definitely on the uptick, but at this hour, things are are still pretty quiet


photo 2fa0f9b1-0958-4d54-9a40-2af22d423bd7photo f15bcd7f-50d0-491c-b600-2d99c60ec7a9

I already have my boarding pass on the AC app, so I head straight to the back of the terminal and the security line for Nexus holders. There's no lineup for security, so even though my backpack is flagged for a secondary security check (and then not checked after all), I'm through security and airside less than ten minutes after arriving at the terminal. I can live with that kind of efficiency. 


photo a40c5704-6ac1-46da-91ab-d1f8750637ee

The elevators up to the domestic Maple Leaf Lounge are just to the left of the security checkpoint, before a set of escalators down to the concourse floor. I'll probably go check that out shortly. But first, there's something else I want to check in on.


photo d2a34866-90aa-4fc7-80ac-55fe3e0f6305

A couple of years ago, Air Canada opened this Cafe pseudo-lounge in the YYZ domestic zone, and I've been looking forward to checking it out ever since.


photo 48a7ce54-2ab2-46bf-afda-4949a56e954bphoto 669955a1-3999-474c-a9e6-a396d13835fb

Unfortunately, it suffered a water main break a couple of months ago and has been closed since then. And that's still the case this morning, so I'll have to wait a while longer to sample this novel new facility. It is coming soon to a flight report near you. Hopefully.

So it's back to the elevators and upstairs to the Maple Leaf Lounge I go.


Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge YYZ Domestic


Upstairs, a quick boarding pass scan and I'm in. The crowd is pretty thin as the lounge has only been open for a few minutes.

Here's the view from the main entranceway. 


photo 8a0707a4-c0a4-4d31-9dbf-13639cdead36

Here's the main corridor of seating. It's up against windows that offer an airside view, although not a tremendous airside view since you're looking over a portion of the roof before the apron. Until very recently, every second seat in the lounge had a "Don't use this seat. Social distancing, y'all." sticker on it, but those are now gone. 


photo 0aa86412-9e93-480a-8453-72278a869234

All is quiet on the raised central part of the lounge.


photo 68628fc6-1897-49e4-8391-5f3d4175c0b9

The bar and buffet area has been transformed in response to COVID (and likely airline cost-cutting, because airlines gonna airline), so instead, we have a handful of pre-packaged cold snacks and drinks. Service is offered at the bar, but not until 11:00 am because, unfortunately, Ontario liquor laws are what they are. More food is available, but we'll get to that in good time.


photo 2d687236-e97c-4cd8-ae51-a6ec4a306c0b

On the other side of what would have been the buffet in the before times, we have some drinks, muffins and danishes (pre-packaged) and a couple of coffee machines.


photo 5644459d-1a5c-4f8e-a006-58ebe54469f0

There's a small TV lounge area on the "other" side of the buffet.


photo 93e1828c-0a82-4634-acc8-33a5be3987b3

And down the "far" end of the lounge, we've got a "quiet" section with a few lounge chairs facing out at the windows for privacy.


photo 594a2db3-ca57-4bb6-b562-6b7aa5788d71

I take a seat and consider my options. I'm pretty hungry at this point. During the pandemic, AC did away with the buffets favouring a table service model in their lounges. Every table has a stick like the one below with a QR code (strategically blacked out to avoid hundreds of you jokers ordering food to table 26 in the lounge). The QR code takes you to a website that offers a few hot snack options, which lounge staff will deliver.


photo a9785be5-9da9-40a1-8c64-dc0b8b86817a

Here's this morning's menu.


photo 87d83195-04cb-4a61-9987-99eda806917a

I know from previous experience that the oatmeal isn't great. I usually like oatmeal, but there's something "off" with the spice mix used, and it doesn't appeal to me. So I skip that and order the avocado toast and an omelette.

Both ordering and the lounge WiFi, in general, are in good shape, easy to connect and moving fast enough.

In the meantime, I grab some appetizers from the cold snacks section at the buffet, accompanied by the mediocre cappuccino. 


photo 98361077-564d-47a6-bcc3-452a83bb0448

My first snack is a Chai-spiced quinoa dish with some raisins. Not bad at all.


photo 4ea266ad-a92a-4367-8787-cc75474d42b2

Up next is a berry/yogurt/granola "parfait." It doesn't look like a parfait to me, but it's tasty enough. I recommend it.


photo 862c1faf-df25-4e7f-9d57-c95ad22f910c

And finally, the best of the cold snack available, and indeed the one with the least redeeming qualities — chocolate chop overnight oats. Yum. 


photo 1a4c22e2-179c-4051-80cf-100d72559fb1

I enjoy those, and after about 20 minutes, my hot food order arrives. Wait time for these orders varies significantly from "seconds after you order" for times when the kitchen has been up and running for a while, but there aren't many people in the lounge to "have they forgotten I exist?" when things are packed.


photo 61af9d3f-b9e2-4129-a616-2981ae41b711

The avocado toast is simple but quite tasty. I enjoy it.


photo 1b483f77-0a72-4892-b4fe-eb571a4b9bd0

The western omelette isn't bad either, although it seems a bit pepper-heavy on the ham-to-pepper ratio.


photo efd4f5b2-c9a4-4612-bfaa-ff4e0098d88f

Alas, I got to the lounge at 5:30, and I'm on a 7:00 widebody flight, so I don't have much time to hang out after breakfast number one. So about 6:00, I make my way out of the lounge and head towards my waiting Dreamliner over to Vancouver.

The domestic lounge is such a familiar space it's hard to form a strong opinion of it, and after being in here a few times this year, I'm not sure if I prefer the current limited table service model or the return of the buffet. Both have pluses and minuses, but I feel the food is better under the current setup. AC seems to be sticking with the model even as COVID restrictions lift, so I guess it's working. Or it's saving them money. Or possibly both. But knowing airline management, almost certainly the latter.


Boarding Time


Things are still pretty quiet after 6:00 down on the concourse, as there aren't many flights before this Vancouver flight, which was recently re-added to the schedule. For the last few months, the earliest YVR service departed at 8:00. This morning, we'll be leaving from D39, one of the most common domestic widebody gates.


photo c4712a4b-6cab-488a-b1c4-a4ca90f9daee

There's my ride, having arrived from Vancouver herself last night. I'm still getting used to the newer "raccoon" livery over the familiar "toothpaste" livery, but I think it's growing on me to the point where I feel a little disappointed when I get a plane still rocking the baby blue.


photo 716b478a-65fa-4e15-8aef-f80e083755c8

There are lots of pre-boarding announcements, including the omnipresent "this flight is completely full, so we're looking for volunteers to check their bags to their final destination free of charge" request, a reminder to wear a mask at all times, and a new one for me, a reminder to those on the waitlist for upgrades to wait to board until they run the final upgrade list about ten minutes after boarding starts. I guess it's now policy to explicitly remind people that "You board, you lose" in the upgrade game.

Boarding g starts at about 6:10, just a couple of minutes after I show up at the gate and a few minutes ahead of what my boarding pass suggests would be boarding time.

A quick scan of the boarding pass on my phone, a presentation of my Nexus card and a lowering of my mask to confirm I at least somewhat look like my identification photo, and I'm on my way.


The Flight Report


Flight: AC101
From: Toronto Pearson (YYZ)
To: Vancouver (YVR)
Date: 4/14/2022
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9
Registration: C-FVNF
Seat: 8K
ATD (STD): 07:18 (07:00)
ATA ( STA): 08:18 (08:46)

For this flight, I'm seated in 8K, in the last row of the business class cabin, which stretches between doors 1 and 2 on AC's 789s. I always forget this final row of seats only has one window. 


photo c5a3f98f-fe23-47fa-b673-3c3ccdd2f54e

The seat as equipped when I arrive on the scene.


photo cedb531c-7077-43c7-8b3b-a54e2864da93

AC's bedding isn't revolutionary, but it's decent. There's a large, soft pillow, a decent duvet, and a new addition in my experience to the bedding stack, a mattress pad. However, it doesn't have much padding to it. So it's more of a fitted sheet. Given the lack of padding and its focus seems to be sanitary rather than comfort, I've seen this referred to as the seat condom. I like that, so I think I'll use it.


photo 3bd17e0e-bf64-4319-8ee9-dfad83447778

My menu, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, and a "CleanCare+" kit with a mask and hand sanitizer are at the seat when I arrive.


photo 69854ef7-26ef-41b2-a01d-9d4e7eff213a

I'll be using my own headphones to listen to podcasts on today's flight, so I won't use the headphones — but they're decent noise-cancelling. I would use them if watching the IFE system — they're of decent quality. But be warned that AC typically picks them up at least half an hour before arrival. Potato-quality earbuds are made available for those who don't have their own headphones but want to use the IFE after flight attendants in J pick up the offered headphones.

The IFE monitor is a decent size, especially for a product that's not five or six years old. I like the default of showing highlight photos of your destination. It sets the mood nicely for travel. AC also offers a bottle of Naya water at each business class seat, and Signature Class means a big bottle rather than a mini, you lucky soul you. 


photo 7858f465-f137-490d-9f78-08d38be69948

A couple of under-seat looks. Both the literary section and the footwell legroom.


photo d92615c6-337b-4bd2-89f7-d132c9cc750aphoto 1bf77e0f-3892-40c3-bc8f-b9f24ea10c1b

The seat controls are straightforward and primarily managed with two physical buttons and a small touchscreen that offers more granular control over both the seat and things like reading light and window shading.


photo 8f377bbf-a604-404c-83d3-4334f1d8c8aephoto 2423348b-fdfa-4a96-a5c1-e4ae898386f3

There's a cubby in the counter between the seat and the window, which provides a home to a small storage area, IFE remote control, headphone, power, and USB ports.


photo 6d9b3bab-2539-402f-a342-aa209b43b1cd

Here's a look at the breakfast menu and wine list. Many things look very familiar to an AC elite from eight years ago, but some of the accoutrements have seen an update.


photo fb4fd70a-3dbf-4cae-87b7-8795f54c598c

While boarding continues, I get my seat set up with its condom (always practice safe aviation) and the duvet unbagged.


photo 090e47b3-fd3e-4ebe-bd77-0a7e83492aac

The service director, Sacha, makes the rounds by introducing himself and welcoming business passengers on board. After him, Ronnie, the flight attendant who would lead service on my aisle, introduced himself. He's taking breakfast orders. Since the two hot options are the same two hot options AC has offered for years now, but the cold breakfast or "healthy option" is new, I decide to go with the latter. It's something new, and I've already had an omelette up in the lounge.

Ronnie's a bit of a character, sharing stories of only getting two hours' sleep, apparently jet-lagged from a 60-hour layover in Seoul last week.

Privacy in these seats, marketed by AC as Executive Pods, is good. Here's a look as boarding continues.


photo bbfb534f-7c72-4275-8578-f373dde092f8

Here's a look out the window on a rainy April morning in Toronto. Our nearest neighbour is one of AC's aging A320s.


photo ed786cd6-2122-4e48-8212-a1c462d12506

I'm not partaking of the IFE system on this flight, but the 789s offer a more up-to-date interface with more features and a faster response time than does even the 788s, which are just months younger in many cases. The interface is way better and way snappier than the "Project XM" interface, AC's original AVOD at every seat environment, which is still found on the A32x fleet. There's always a pretty good selection of movies available to those who are so inclined.


photo 3e7a088a-bd8a-4876-b788-1f8376a8d855

As boarding wraps up, a uniformed AC captain joins us. We end up going out full. Here's a look at the cabin from the back as boarding wraps up.


photo 43f59bd3-bc7a-4e46-97c4-1b7f188c6388

We push back right on time at 7:01. April in Canada means (mostly) not having to stop at de-icing, so it's a relatively short taxi out to the runway. There's an interesting new safety video presenting elements of the AC cabin in iconic Canadian scenery. It's followed by a video reminding you to wear a mask unless you want to be greeted by the Mounties upon arrival.


photo d86a23bb-1a09-4303-9648-96226644f558

About 7:15, we're up and away into a sky showing a bit of sun.


photo 83d4de10-e2c1-432f-aa66-e99ab2c007b2photo 3ca7f00b-d445-454a-aa49-44d18065056dphoto b859aa24-f3d1-49be-b1d1-402509648f13

It's a lovely morning up above the clouds.


photo 127805a1-e7fe-4375-bcf4-17c24fa5fce8

The seatbelts signs stay on for the first 25 minutes of the flight. Once extinguished, I head to the lav located just behind door 2R. I like AC's falling maple leaf wallpaper motif. Who doesn't appreciate a loo with a view? Other than that, it's a pretty standard 787 lav. These two lavs, located between Business and Premium Economy, are shared by passengers in those two cabins and separated from galleys in this space by a couple of curtains.



When I get back to my seat, my table cloth has been placed, indicating it's almost time for breakfast number two.


photo 2214a1d1-ef1e-455e-8922-3dfd1493c259

But first, some more out-the-window views on a beautiful morning at 38,000 feet.


photo 48a9f5e7-fcf3-4895-8220-cd7232fac6e4

Ronnie serves breakfast off the trolley. For most passengers, it's just the croissant, fruit salad, and chia pudding offered on the tray, with the hot entree delivered later. But for the cold option, breakfast is served all at once. He also offers drinks, and I opt for some orange juice and a glass of the sparkling wine. It's a deconstructed mimosa if you will.


photo a7d11d60-9fe3-48a0-adf5-2ab410c51a76

The main course of the cold breakfast is a fruit salad with almonds, coconut, seeds, a thick Greek yogurt, and a bit of honey. It's not a filling meal, but I enjoy it quite a bit.


photo a0cd735a-087b-4dd3-b65d-b9a697ff403e

Ronnie comes around, offering another round of drinks, and attendants deliver hot entrees to those who ordered them.

Cheese and crackers are always a nice treat, but it's missing the accompaniment of grapes. 


photo 60ed91a8-1cce-4392-8c57-1d1077615fd9

And rounding out breakfast, the croissant isn't great, but it's made passable with butter and strawberry jam.


photo 0ae4c4b2-00ae-4049-b368-67ef57e31932

I request a cappuccino to finish breakfast off, and it's cheerfully delivered. It's not great, but it's an in-flight cappuccino, which still has a novelty factor.


photo 6839baec-6fb1-4632-9698-637df88dc378

The "cold breakfast" option is fresh, and I found it quite enjoyable, but be warned — it is not filling. If you're on a Signature transcon and hungry, go for one of the hot breakfasts.

By the time we've wrapped up the breakfast service, we're passing the west end of Lake Superior and over Thunder Bay. The winter headwinds must be over because we're covering much more ground than during the colder months. We're probably going to be early into Vancouver if this holds up. 


photo 630b3795-6f01-4b26-89ae-2f7c16ab0473

I relax for a while, listen to some podcast, and eventually put my bed down to make sure it's comfortable. It is. And in fact, I nap for a while on and off. It was an early morning, and the bed was quite nice.

We're about an hour out of Vancouver by the time I wake up fully, and Ronnie is making his rounds with the snack basket, followed by a drink cart. Here's my haul. I always lament that AC doesn't feature tequila, and DL doesn't stock Clamato, making my preferred in-flight beverage of a Clamato & Tequila (El Cesar?) impossible. 


photo 061401ec-f2fe-43d4-a803-d12e2b7d2cc5

As we're approaching half an hour from Vancouver, one final service is offered, as water bottles are distributed.


photo 797aab7b-7d33-4b3d-8fb8-e7dc6ddfb3e7

On a clear day, there are few bits of airplane window art better than enjoying the descent into YVR over the Rockies. And it's a very clear day today, so I just enjoy the scenery out my window as we approach.


photo d8918678-8ccd-422a-ad43-547de0518276photo 57b3ccf8-749a-4b56-bfc4-6e3167e3077dphoto 22c733e3-83d7-473d-9fb6-a9300b546e61

There's a sudden shift in geography as we approach the Lower Mainland.


photo 194b0313-d7dc-45ca-8bc7-4d6cf8159c46

We're getting close. Here, we're over suburban Vancouver, with downtown in the far distance.


photo e4710e5c-7a6d-4004-b52b-576d173ac94b

We end up touching down about half an hour early. 


photo 15493b5e-6b83-4e12-9ba9-56d0d2b30258

It's a relatively short taxi into Gate C47, passing one of the newer members of the narrowbody fleet on the way.


photo ae10db1c-dcc3-4368-9343-944ff18db74a

After a brief delay to allow the ground crew to arrive, we pull into our gate. Things are pretty quiet at this hour.


photo b724f1a1-97a5-4d80-91bd-10f950779ffd

The jetway is quickly hooked up to door 2L, and being at the back of the business class cabin, I'm among the first off. Here's one quick look back at our raccoon-themed Dreamliner before I head off to the lounge to wait for my flight back home.


photo bc73b0bf-82c0-41be-8fb3-9445730a9e50

Thanks for joining me for this quick trip to Vancouver. I hope you enjoyed reading it and got a feel for AC's domestic Signature Service offering. See you on the return!

See more

Verdict

Air Canada

8.0/10
Cabin8.5
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Meal/catering7.5

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Domestic

7.3/10
Comfort7.5
Meal/catering7.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Services7.0

Toronto - YYZ

8.0/10
Efficiency9.0
Access7.5
Services7.0
Cleanliness8.5

Vancouver - YVR

8.0/10
Efficiency8.0
Access8.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

It's so nice to be flying again. This was an enjoyable flight on the 787, with a comfortable seat/bed, decent food, and solid service. And I'm 2,000-plus miles closer to my 1MM goal.

Information on the route Toronto (YYZ) Vancouver (YVR)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 17 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Toronto (YYZ) → Vancouver (YVR).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Air Canada with 7.5/10.

The average flight time is 4 hours and 42 minutes.

  More information

3 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 600497 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5799 Comments

    Well hello there! Nice to have you back in the air again!

    This had to be among the best transcontinental business class experiences in North America (JetBlue's new solo Mint Suites may win). The others (AA/DL/UA) have 2-2 J config without direct aisle access.

    The breakfast looks fine, but I agree the cheese plate is missing grapes! Credit where credit is due having a cheese course at all for a breakfast...you can feel the French-Canadian influence there! haha.

    Loving all the photos of the new AC livery--it's so gorgeous in that beautiful lighting.

    I thought I was going crazy not flying for 10 months in 2020, but have made up for lost time since. I was lucky in that I have dual EU/US citizenship and could go back and forth despite closed borders. I can't even imagine what it's like being Canadian, where for much of the pandemic, you all had some very strict entry requirements and testing and quarantine measures. Having to quarantine in a hotel during any period of time coming home is going to kill any international travel except for emergencies.

    I'm glad to see AC and other airlines from countries that were closed to be coming out the other end with brighter day ahead. Let hope things continue to improve and the world can finally get back to normal-ish.

    Thanks for sharing and welcome back!!!

  • Comment 600564 by
    hometoyyz BRONZE AUTHOR 542 Comments

    Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for the welcome back. It’s nice to be writing here again. But if I’m telling the truth, it’s nicer still to be flying again.

    This had to be among the best transcontinental business class experiences in North America (JetBlue's new solo Mint Suites may win). The others (AA/DL/UA) have 2-2 J config without direct aisle access.

    It is quite good, but aren't there still premium widebody services on routes like JFK-LAX?

    The breakfast looks fine, but I agree the cheese plate is missing grapes! Credit where credit is due having a cheese course at all for a breakfast...you can feel the French-Canadian influence there! haha.

    I think the "healthy option" (which in the past was an oatmeal and an enlarged fruit plate) has always included cheese and crackers with AC. Probably because it's an easier way to get some protein in there.

    Having to quarantine in a hotel during any period of time coming home is going to kill any international travel except for emergencies.

    Yes, it sure did. Although I have to say I am shocked -- SHOCKED -- that we ended up dropping test-prior-to-arrival before you guys did. But then, that does help open travel up for Canadians. If I have to test to go south, and I pop a positive before departure, I can just cancel the trip. If I can't get home for a couple of weeks because of a positive test on the road, that's a lot of complexity and expense I don't want to deal with.

    I'm glad to see AC and other airlines from countries that were closed to be coming out the other end with brighter day ahead. Let hope things continue to improve and the world can finally get back to normal-ish.

    Amen to that. I know Canadian carriers have had it rough with international travel being challenged, and I suspect AC/WS have a higher reliance on non-domestic flying than do most US carriers. But hey, it could always be worse. You could be CX.

    Thanks for stopping by to read my report, and for the welcome back. It feels good to be home.

    • Comment 600698 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5799 Comments

      It is quite good, but aren't there still premium widebody services on routes like JFK-LAX?

      There are, but it's pretty hit or miss, and there will be less and less and Intl travel continues to pick up

      Although I have to say I am shocked -- SHOCKED -- that we ended up dropping test-prior-to-arrival before you guys did.

      The US (along with UK) were basically the last holdouts in the Western world for pre-arrival testing. It is funny how the UK went from nothing to super strict with hotel quarantine and then now nothing again...Canada's re-opening strategy was a bit more sensical and better planned. The US 24-hour rule for antigen tests makes no sense...especially since Omicron and other new variants aren't easily detectable on antigen tests. Having to get a test 24h prior to return to the US is just a major PITA that adds stress for no reason...as we've seen historically, these policies have done nothing to keep Covid out of the US...or any other country for that matter.

      But hey, it could always be worse. You could be CX.

      Poor CX...I really hope they survive

Login to post a comment.