The airline with the best average rating is Air Canada with 7.5/10.
The average flight time is 4 hours and 14 minutes.More information
Hello, and welcome to this report’s second and final segment on a quick day trip to Vancouver and back in Air Canada’s “Signature” Business Class.
For all the details on the booking of this trip, please refer to the YYZ-YVR flight report linked above. It’s discussed in some depth there.
I will note that my upgrade from economy cleared eight days out for this particular leg, two days after my upgrade window opened as an Air Canada 50K member.
… he had just arrived in Vancouver on an Air Canada 787-9 and was ready to head home. As one does.
I decided to head up to the lounge first and then get some steps in before my flight since the lounge tends to get busier as midday approaches.
The Domestic MLL has one of the coolest entranceways of any lounge out there, “cut in” to the rock face of this wall in the domestic terminal at YVR. Vancouver, in general, is the most aesthetically pleasing of the Canadian airports. That may be damning through faint praise, but I don’t mean it that way.
This picture doesn’t do it justice. I’ll get a better shot next time.
A quick boarding scan pass, and I’m on my way upstairs to the Domestic MLL, which is smaller than you would expect for AC’s second-largest hub. It can get swamped at peak times, and it’s not uncommon to see a lineup out the door just to get in.
So it’s nice that it’s not all that busy at this hour.
Here’s a look at the main hallway.
By the buffet, there’s a restaurant seating area.
This area is traditionally where the hot and cold buffets are, but Covid, so there’s not much going on. There’s a coffee machine, an espresso machine that’s not working, a dispenser for hot, still, or sparkling water, a cooler with some drinks, and another with the same kind of cold snacks available in the YYZ MLL.
Here’s some more seating at the far end of the lounge.
And here’s part of the “main” room of chairs. This lounge could probably use a bit of a refresh, but it also would benefit from some more square footage.
The lounge features great apron views. Sitting where it sits, it’s a great place to spot, with Air Canada’s domestic gates to the left and the domestic/international swing gates to the right, with the international gates across the way.
Like the case in YYZ, hot snacks are available with a table ordering system. Just scan the QR code, and you get the menu.
We’ve already had two breakfasts, but what about third breakfast? A couple of carryovers from the YYZ lounge, so I put in an order for the two items I haven’t already had today.
They arrive soon enough. I enjoy the breakfast sandwich: smoked salmon and a sliced egg with some pepper, onions and capers on a half English muffin.
The blueberry French toast is quite enjoyable too.
The lounge WiFi is fast and gets the job done, allowing me to spend some time working on my YYZ-YVR flight report.
Out the window, I spot my ride back home to YYZ, which has just pulled in, having followed me across the country on the 8:00 YYZ-YVR departure.
After a while, it’s past 10:00, so the rest-of-the-day menu is available. Let’s see what’s available. I order a couple of items.
The chilli is decent. It could be a little thicker and have a little more heat, but I understand that we’re catering to the lowest common denominator.
The other item I order is the Hawksworth special. For a long time, on international Business Class, the menu would feature a starter, dessert, and at least one entree marketed under the Canadian celebrity chef David Hawksworth. They were pretty much always the best option available. So I feel compelled to try it here in the lounge.
And sure enough, these pea and parmesan arancini deliver. Especially with the mildly spicy and herby dip, they’re pretty tasty. My only criticism would be that they’re a bit more crumbly than I’d like. They’re pretty good, but they’d be great if they were a bit crispier and more cohesive.
Having gotten some writing time in and eaten more than my fill, I decided to head out of the lounge. It’s getting busy, and someone else can enjoy my seat.
I spend the next 40 minutes wandering around the domestic terminal, which covers a lot of ground, particularly with a rather long passageway between the Air Canada part of the terminal and the WestJet/Flare/Canada North/everyone else part of the terminal.
Feeling better about getting my steps in, I head over to gate 51 a few minutes before boarding. Sure enough, lineups are already starting to form.
It’s hard to get a great look at my ride because this is a swing gate, which means there has to be a sealed-off walkway to route international arrivals to the international zone along the outside wall of the terminal, but here’s what I could get from here.
I join the lineup for Zone 1 and listen to the usual announcements. Why is it that Air Canada always has to ask for gate-checked bags because there’s no way all the carryons will fit on “today’s flight”? Oh, right. Their planes are pretty dense in economy, and the 10-across 777s are among the most packed in the back.
Boarding is called right on schedule. A scan of the boarding pass, a flash of my Nexus card, and a pull-down of my mask, and I’m on my way back home.
From: Vancouver (YVR)
To: Toronto Pearson (YYZ)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
ATD (STD): 12:25 (12:00)
ATA ( STA): 19:22 (19:20)
We board from door 2L, and I turn right for my seat at the back of the second business class mini-cabin. I like the back of the cabin in general, and I like the back of the rear cabin in particular since it’s such a small space. For this flight, I’m seated in 11A. The seat tour is pretty self-explanatory, so I’ll save you the commentary on all the seat details and just do this as a gallery.
Here's a look out the window at the A330 next door, soon to be departing to Montreal.
A flight attendant offers the menu for today's lunch, and another follows to take orders shortly afterwards.
I requested the veal, but they've run out of it, so I decided to go with the salmon. The beef/veal is frequently out before we lowly non-Super Elites get our orders in, especially if we're at the back of the cabin. Oh well.
We push back a few minutes behind schedule, just after noon.
Here's a look across the mini-cabin as we taxi.
We pass a Dreamliner on our way out. It's a pretty short taxi this afternoon.
Up up and away into the sky over the west coast. We head out over the Pacific before doing a u-turn that gives us a good look at the airport we came from.
Once we're above 10,000 feet, I take a quick trip to the lav by door 2L to get the pre-requisite shots. I know you're just here for the bathroom pictures.
The flight attendant leading the service on my aisle rolls the drink cart down for our first service. The main difference between domestic and international Signature Class drinks-wise is that it's proper champagne internationally, but we domestic plebeians have to put up with prosecco.
It's still pretty decent, and I request a glass accompanied by a Perrier because I love some bubbles.
Two comments here:
1) I wish they'd bring back the ramekins of warmed nuts. So much classier than the little pack of almonds.
2) There is something very wrong with that particular napkin in Signature Class. That taint of that word should be nowhere near this service.
Signature Service meal service differs from the standard AC domestic/transborder business class meal service in a few key ways. First, there's an appetizer that accompanies the salad before dinner. There's a choice of four entrees instead of the usual two. And after dinner, there's a cheese plate available and a choice of a fruit plate or a dessert that's a big step up from the simple slice of cake offered in narrowbody business class.
It's very close in quality and quantity to the main meal in international business class, and I love it.
The service leader is back with the cart again 15 minutes after the drink service, handing out the first service tray and the second round of drinks. Another Perrier for me, although I switch the wine out for a glass of the Chardonnay. He also offers white or whole wheat bread. It's not warmed, so that's a bit disappointing, but it's better than the pre-wrapped bread rolls they'd been offering for months. It's all about the small steps forward.
I enjoy this appetizer. Before trying this, I am ashamed to say I was not aware of hot smoked salmon. But now I am aware of it, and I am a fan. It goes very nicely with the mixed vegetable salad with a nice dill vinaigrette. It is so good.
The salad is nothing special — just mixed greens with shredded apple slices and a few pomegranate seeds. And Air Canada's offered the same balsamic vinaigrette dressing since I've been flying them. I wish they'd change it up a bit.
The dressing is almost frozen. I have long since learned that the best practice is to put the little bottle under my leg while I eat the appetizer first. Sitting on it for those five minutes gets it to a temperature where it's liquid again.
One flight attendant quickly clears dishes while another delivers the hot entrees as passengers finish their starters. Here's my salmon. He offers another roll, and I opt for the whole wheat this time.
I would prefer a much bigger serving of the appetizer to this. The fish is done nicely, but the herb sauce doesn't have much flavour, unfortunately. It's okay, but I had a very nice cod dish last month, and I'd much prefer that.
The service moves along nicely, and the flight attendant leading service clears my dishes as soon as I'm done. He promises the dessert cart will be along shortly, and he's true to his word.
In my opinion, having the cheese course is a vital part of what makes it Signature Service. So I've been disappointed when some crews, in the best case, seem to treat it as if they're doing you a favour to give you both a cheese plate and a dessert, and in the worst case, deny you one or the other if both are requested. The menu suggests the cheese is separate from dessert, which is always the case in international service.
Fortunately, that's not a problem, as my flight attendant clearly explains I'm welcome to have some cheese and a dessert. Port is also offered, but I'm already a few drinks in at this point, and I have to drive home once we arrive, so I just opt for a coffee with dessert.
I always enjoy Air Canada's after-dinner cheese plate. I think they have a good mix. I would appreciate a bleu cheese, but I understand that's not everyone's cup of tea, so I think they do a good job of having different flavours and texture profiles while still accessible. The grapes and the apple slice provide a lovely accent.
The brownie is so good. It looks simple, but it's rich, with just a slight caramel accent. It's got a bit of a crust, but it's dense and fudgy on the inside. It's a definite winner.
By the time lunch is over, I'm stuffed and quite satisfied. Dishes are cleared, and the house lights are turned down in favour of mood lighting. We're taking quite a southerly route today and are over the southern part of the Dakotas.
After dinner, I recline my seat to not-quite-flat and relax. Sure enough, it's time for an impromptu nap. I should have known this would happen and put on the seat condom and pulled up the duvet.
I wake up as our service lead passes the snack basket around. Time for my usual haul, although I'm still stuffed. I'll enjoy them at a later date, I'm sure.
As far as I can tell, there's no further drink service. At least, no further drink service for which I am awake.
Sooner than I'd like, we're starting our descent into Toronto.
We fly past the airport and to almost the other side of Toronto before turning around and landing east-to-west.
We're tracking north of Downsview Airport, so we're probably coming in on the northern runway.
Woodbine Racetrack means we're getting close.
And sure enough, we cross Airport Road and touch down on Runway 23.
It's getting to Golden Hour as we taxi in. Look who's parked at Terminal Three. Seeing this lovely 787 reminds me that Etihad is now an Aeroplan partner. I'll have to check them out in the not-too-distant future.
We pull into Gate 20 as the sun starts to sink. Sadly, today's flight adventures are coming to an end.
After deplaning, one quick look back at our 300ER with the sinking sun behind it.
I don't have luggage, and on a domestic flight, that means one can get through Pearson very quickly. Only five minutes after snapping that pick of my ride, I'm on my way to the car park to head home.
Thanks for joining me for this quick trip to Vancouver and back. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on Air Canada's domestic Signature Service.
I wonder how international service stacks up?
But that's another story for another time.
This flight was a solid Signature Class experience. For a flight that was either midday or late afternoon, depending on what time zone you view it from, the meal is pretty much the thing, and I feel that AC's lunch/dinner offering on these flights is at or close to international business class standards.