In my previous flight report (http://flight-report.com/en/report-8639.html), I flew from Los Angeles to Toronto. In this report, I took my first-ever Dreamliner flight with Air Canada (from Toronto to Tel Aviv) and I experienced Air Canada's brand new Premium Economy class service!
Once I arrived in Toronto, I was whisked away to Canadian Customs, and then to Air Canada's International Maple Leaf Lounge, with the very capable and professional assistance of Marie Ramirez-Reyes who is one of Air Canada's Concierges. As I travel throughout the globe, and and I fly Air Canada, I have found that Air Canada's Concierge service is one which I wish every airline offered. These miracle-makers are eager to graciously assist Air Canada passengers with their travel arrangements to learn more about this great service, please visit here: http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/airport/concierge.html
There's always a bounty of tasty treats in Air Canada's International Maple Leaf Lounge! Where most airlines continue to cut on food services in the lounge, Air Canada does the opposite and they continue to provide a great service to passengers. I'm certain that Air Canada would be the favorite airline of George Bernard Shaw who aptly stated once upon a time: There is no sincerer love than the love of food. This sentiment is especially true for Air Canada's inflight dining experience - more on that in a moment…..
About 45 minutes prior to departure, I headed to the departure gate - and after going through a pre-flight security screening, I was escorted on-board the aircraft by another professional Air Canada Concierge, Seth Hilarice, who then introduced me to one of the flight's pilots who gave me a brief tour of the flight deck! Truly, there is no better new smell than that of a new flight deck! I was able to see the great HUD (Heads-Up Display) for the first time; This device helps pilots land the Dreamliner safely and smoothly in the most unappealing weather conditions. After my flight deck visit, I was then introduced to the flight's lovely Service Director, Carrol Strachan who proceeded to fill me in with some of the Dreamliner's amenities. During our chat, Carrol mentioned that being a crew member aboard the Dreamliner is a true joy and, as a passenger, I was in for a very wonderfully unique experience for my first time flying Air Canada's Dreemliner. Based on what I witnessed within the first 15 minutes after boarding the aircraft, I could tell that Carrol and her team were genuinely excited to have the passengers aboard - and they couldn't have been more pleasant to each passenger that set foot on this brand new aircraft.
To this day, I am still overwhelmed with the newness of the Dreamliner! Truly, the boarding experience is unlike anything I have experienced on any other aircraft as my immediate thoughts were: atmosphere & space. After making an immediate right turn, I was greeted with pleasant view of thoughtfully designed contemporary cabin with seats which was replete with plenty of legroom (especially with me being 6'4) and amenities which rival that of First Class cabins on most U.S. airlines! As you can see, this cabin only has 3 rows and is really like an exclusive club of sorts. Although these seats are not lie-flat, the seats are very comfortable and the recline is more than adequate for a long flight. The adjustable headrest is most welcome, as well as the upgraded blanket and pillow for Premium Economy passengers. The retractable footrest is also a wonderful and much appreciated touch for Air Canada's intermediate cabin. Also, there are individuals power outlets for each passenger!
Air Canada's next generation High Definition enRoute in-flight entertainment (IFE) system is the most advanced in the skies right now (plus, it's quite fast!). It's a gate-to-gate system, so from the moment you sit down after boarding, you can begin to watch the movie or video of your choice! One particular perk I like about Air Canada's new IFE system is that passengers no longer required to sit through a repetitive sequence of commercials prior to each movie (or video) being shown. You simply select your movie and then scroll to the part of the movie that piques your interest (which is quite handy when your flight arrives mid-movie; You simply scroll to the scene where you left off during your next flight - no commercials either!). You can see more on this in my video at the end of this report. Another thoughtful design detail that Air Canada provides as part of this advanced IFE system is a USB power port and 2 earphone jacks: One in the monitor (which illuminates when the screen is touched) and one in the armrest (under the mini-drink tray). Personally, the earphone jack in the armrest is better suited for those who travel with their own headsets - as well as those who have an aisle seat (just in case you have a window seatmate who needs to get up, you won't run the risk of your headset cable being damaged if you forget to remove it).
Once we began our nighttime departure from Toronto's Pearson International Airport, I was anxious to see the natural wing bend as the Dreamliner lifted off of the ground. Well, before that occurred, this beautiful Dreamliner lined up with the runway and then the engines spun up for takeoff - but it wasn't a loud or deafening sound that I heard from these engines…..it was simply a nice, quiet whirring sound! Anyway, as we proceeded down the runway, the moment I had been waiting for occurred simultaneously: The Dreamliner's wing bent upward slightly, the aircraft then rotated and lifted off! (I really wish Boeing could put a live moment like this to music….)! Unfortunately, I was unable to properly capture this moment since it was dark outside. Don't fret, you'll get to see this for yourself in grand style in my next flight report (my departure with that flight occurred during the day).
I always base Premium Economy services as Business Class on International flights. Having this expectation is not unusual for a premium carrier such as Air Canada, given the value that passengers receive. Of course, a pre-flight beverage (water or juice) is served before departure - however, Air Canada's greatest strength for their Premium Economy cabin is their meal service. As you can see, the portions of the food are quite nice and the quality trumps ANYTHING I have experienced during transcontinental First Class flights here in the U.S. I'll expound on this since impressive food service deserves great detail:
First, the salad consisted of very fresh organic greens and tomatoes which were very crisp and flavorful for a flight. The salad was accompanied by a robust balsamic olive oil dressing, warm rolls and butter.
Normally, I steer clear of beef dishes on flights since they tend to be gamey, flavorless and overcooked. However, I figured that I would put all of the Air Canada newness to the test. That said, for my main course, I selected the Grilled Alberta AAA Beef Tenderloin with Truffle & Porcini sauce, Potatoes au Gratin, Carrots and Green Beans. Suffice it to say, I was MORE than pleased with how this dish turned out! What a great selection! Firstly, I am familiar with AAA Alberta beef and it is truly the best grade of beef in North America (lots of flavor & perfect amount of marbling) - so, my expectations were extremely high when I selected this dish. The beef was served Medium and each bite melted in my mouth! For a moment, I thought I was having a great cut of beef from The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge's Moose's Nook Chophouse! But alas, I was 40K feet in the air and somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean! The Truffle & Porcini sauce was pleasantly savory and complimented the beef perfectly! The Potatoes au Gratin were very delicious (the cheese used for the gratin sauce must have originated in Switzerland - there was a richness about the cheese which I haven't enjoyed since I visited Switzerland a few months ago!). The carrots and green beans were crisp (most unexpected for a flight) and were lightly flavored with butter. And the Apple Blackberry crumble was a perfect way to end the meal: Nice & light. Anything heavier than this would have been a bit much (I am SOOOOO glad that whipped cream or ice cream wasn't added to this dessert).
And yes - I had white wine with beef. I know that this is considered verboten by most gourmands and food purists, but guess what? I was in the moment and I wanted white at the time - not red. Plus, IF I were to enjoy a red with beef, I tend to go for a Malbec (most Merlots, Syrahs, etc. tend to be too bold - for my tastes at least - which ends up completely destroying a great meal). Surprisingly enough, I was quite impressed with how the 2013 Les Tannes Chardonnay - Grenache Blanc paired with the entire meal.
One thing I should note: I believe the built-in lower flight pressurization and greater cabin humidity of the Dreamliner (which lessens jet lag) had a MAJOR impact on my ability to savor the flavors of the meal that I enjoyed. I'm not sure if this is the case - but, never before have I enjoyed an inflight meal as I did with this flight. Research has proven that taste buds are weakened during flights, so maybe Boeing has tapped in on additional benefits with this new technology.
One of the Premium Economy flight attendants (Aya Levy) was kind enough to show me the secondary entree offering: Risotto with Kale, Tomatoes and Parmesan. I was VERY tempted to partake of this dish - but I was quite full and satisfied with my beef entree.
During my 9 hour and 35 minute journey, I watched a few sitcoms and a movie - the rest of the time, I rested. The quality of sleep was quite great and I didn't experience restlessness. When I did wake up, I was very happy with the ambient mood lighting and the pleasant daytime cabin glow which was provided by the dimmed windows (which does not affect your ability to sleep restfully). Take a look at these untouched images…..
About an hour before my arrival in Tel Aviv, a flavorful breakfast was served:
- Omelette Savoyarde with Lyonnaise Potatoes - Seasonal fruit - Yogurt - Orange juice - Fresh roll with butter
The flight approach & landing in Tel Aviv couldn't have been better! It was a truly a Heavenly experience and I am so happy that I was able to film the landing (you can see this in the video below). Special thanks to Carrol's deputy Service Director for giving me a special advance heads-up regarding the Tel Aviv flight approach views - it was epic! (Apologies for not having that individual's name presently - I will update this report with his name as soon as I am able to track it down).
Upon my arrival in Tel Aviv, the first Israeli person I met was another wonderful Air Canada Concierge named Yardenna. Even in Israel, Air Canada's consistency doesn't fail. They hire the very best to represent the customer-centric vision of their airline. Yardenna escorted me through the Customs process and once I claimed my bags and I headed to my ground transportation, she provided me her Concierge contact details just in case I ran into any difficulty while I was in Israel.
My next flight report will highlight my return flight on the Dreamliner from Tel Aviv to Toronto…..and the flight experience will be even more impressive than what you have just read! In the meantime, please view the following video on my flight…..
…..and you can catch a glimpse of my visit to Israel by viewing the following video.
If you have never flown on the Dreamliner, I strongly recommend that your maiden voyage be with Air Canada! The inflight service is amazing and the flight crew is genuinely Canadian: Very friendly and pleasant!
As a very tall person, comfort is key when flying. I cannot stress enough that Air Canada has mastered the art of comfort with their Premium Economy cabin. It is by far THE template which every airline should work with when planning to have such an intermediate service (and I'm certain it will be tough to beat what Air Canada is offering in this service class).
Flying on the Dreamliner is a joy and I am very happy that my first time flying this aircraft was with Air Canada. The key thing that I tell everyone is that just because an aircraft is fantastic, it doesn't necessarily mean that every airline flying that aircraft will have an impressive inflight product. Fortunately for me, I know that Air Canada's premium inflight product is always superior and I have never been disappointed.
One last thing: Air Canada recently announced that they will expand Dreamliner flight services to Delhi and Dubai November 2015. Please review Air Canada's official Dreamliner page to keep track of the destinations that this great aircraft with Air Canada's services will visit: https://787.aircanada.com/en/
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