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Welcome to the second of this five-part journey to Buenos Aires in Air Canada "Signature Service" Business Class. For a full explanation of the whats and whys of this trip, please refer to the first segment, YYZ-GRU. It discusses all of this in some depth. It also has an extensive review of Air Canada's Signature Suite in YYZ as a bonus.
… he had just arrived in GRU from YYZ after eating his weight in food between Air Canada's Signature Suite and was heading down a hallway searching for the connections section at the airport. As a reminder, it looked a little something like this.
I follow signs toward immigration and transit and head down an escalator. At the bottom, an AC employee is holding a sign for passengers for EZE. I identify myself to him, and he points me toward the right lane for transit security and informs me of our gate number for the onward flight to Buenos Aires.
There's nobody in line for the particular security lineup for the terminal we'll depart from, so I don't have a wait to be searched. There's a brief confusion when I present a YYZ-EZE boarding pass on my phone. It's understandable since the boarding pass doesn't mention GRU since YYZ-EZE is a direct flight. It reminds me of my days working with a fellow whose sister-in-law worked at AC, and he made it his mission to correct anyone who called a flight "direct" when they technically meant "non-stop." Good times.
Digression aside, the confusion is cleared up, and I'm through security relatively quickly. There are big windows here in the transit security area, and they just so happen to be looking out on the AC 789 from YUL pushing back. While I initially think it's pushing back for its return trip to Canada, this is incorrect. This plane is being moved over to parking away from the gates, as it has to hang out at GRU while our plane flies to EZE and back, picking up at least part of its passenger load for its return to Montreal tonight.
Back upstairs, I'm out onto the international concourse at GRU. It feels open and modern, with lots of windows and good views in three directions.
I find my gate, where our 787 awaits our return. Meanwhile, the Montreal Dreamliner is heading away to enjoy a break until tonight.
All's quiet at the gate.
It will soon appear in this parking section, Swiss, TAP, TAM and more. If I'm betting on planes to find hanging out at the airport in Argentina, I'm not sure I'd pick TAAG Angola as high on my list.
Other planes hanging out at EZE at this hour include an LH 748, an AF 359, an AA Dreamliner, and a DL 767.
I stroll around the terminal for a while. The WiFi is free and fast enough, and it's nice to get some movement in after being in my seat for most of the last 10 hours. I believe there is a lounge available for AC Business Class passengers, but I don't bother for this short layover.
A couple of dozen young men in various Canada-themed clothing appear at the gates together, so I guess the Canadian softball team the captain on YYZ-GRU mentioned is heading onwards to EZE with us. Once again: Go Canada Go.
The ground agents call boarding at about 10:45, and they line people up in lines based on zone number. I'm the first in zone number one, so I board after several passengers in wheelchairs and other family groups and older passengers.
From: Sao Paulo (GRU)
To: Buenos Aires (EZE)
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9
ATD (STD): 11:40 (11:30)
ATA (STA): 14:05 (14:25)
Since this is direct, if not non-stop, I'm back in the same seat I was in for YYZ-GRU, 8A, in the final row of the 787-9 Business Class cabin.
I won't review the whole seat experience and feature set since I just did so in YYZ-GRU. Instead, please find a quick gallery to remind you about the Air Canada "Executive Pod" seat.
During boarding, the jetway at 2L obscures my view. So it's not until boarding is complete that I get to see outside. Without our teammate at the next gate, it isn't exciting.
We push back at about 11:30.
It takes us about 10 minutes to get out to the runway.
And away we go. Farewell, Brazil. I'll see you again tomorrow. Briefly.
Here we are, well on our way to 40,000 feet.
The service director leads the meal service on my aisle, bringing the cart down the aisle with drinks and meal trays. The SD and several of the crew have Brazilian Portuguese accents as far as I can tell, so I'm curious how AC staffs these flights. It would seem too long for a single crew to do YYZ-GRU-EZE or GRU-EZE-GRU-YYZ in one service day. Do they have a small base at GRU to fly GRU-EZE-GRU every day, with the longhaul handled by Canadian crews that layover? Or do they mix and match Canadian and local crews for these segments? Or something else altogether? Some of the flight crew don't have Canadian accents, so they're not all South American, at least by origin.
While I contemplate this, the SD brings the cart down the aisle and makes it to me at the rear of the cabin. I'm curious to see what we'll get since there is no menu, and the AC app says meal information is unavailable.
What we get is a cold grilled chicken breast, tomatoes and zucchini, pasta with corn, a bread roll, a fruit salad, and a truffle. Oh, and of course, we get the omnipresent mini-bottle of balsamic vinaigrette since this is an AC flight.
I request a Perrier and red wine to accompany it.
The main dish is not bad for a flight of this length. The chicken is nicely seasoned and reasonably tasty, and the tomato and grilled vegetables are good. But the pasta with corn is an odd choice, and both the pasta and the corn are tough and chewy. So, mixed marks for sure.
The fruit salad, while visually uninteresting, is quite tasty. The bun is not photographed for posterity, but it's dry and not good.
The truffle is nice and big and makes for a fine dessert.
When my dishes are cleared away, the service director asks if I'd like anything else and cheerfully delivers a black coffee cup.
By the time the meal service is over, we're about an hour out of EZE. The moving map system has some problems with this flight since it seems to be convinced we're still flying YYZ-GRU. It suggests a questionable route for the rest of our journey.
Soon, we're on our descent into Buenos Aires.
And we touch down a few minutes after 2:00 pm, ahead of an Air France 787 on its way out of town.
We taxi for just a couple of minutes and pull into a gate next to another Dreamliner from KLM.
My flight ends, departing the plane from door 2L and making my way toward immigration.
I go down the escalator, where things are pretty quiet at this hour.
I'm through immigration in no time. The agent scans my passport, takes my picture and asks precisely one question: "First time?" I respond in the affirmative, and he tells me to "Enjoy, man," and stamps my passport.
And that's it. There is no mention of the pre-arrival form I had to fill out, no checking I had the required travel insurance. Not that I'm complaining. I'll always prefer easy arrivals to more difficulty and red tape.
From there, it's a short walk through baggage claim, and I'm landside at EZE, looking for the shuttle to my hotel.
Thus ends my trip to Buenos Aires. All that remains is to get a good night's sleep and head back to Canada tomorrow.
Being an avgeek is sometimes a weird life.
Thanks for joining me for one of the shorter parts of this journey. I hope you learned something about this odd Canadian flight between Brazil and Argentina. Please join me for my three-part return journey, coming soon to a flight-report.com near you.
The meal was nothing to write home about, but the service was solid, and as always, it's a good seat. This was a perfectly acceptable Business Class shorthaul flight in a longhaul product.