Air Canada offers 16 Business Class recliner seats on its Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, which is most commonly used for short and medium-haul flights.
I recently tried out Air Canada’s Business Class service on a flight from Mexico City to Montreal, which I booked using Virgin Australia Velocity points. The service exceeded my expectations.
|Route||Mexico City (MEX) to Montreal (YUL)|
|Aircraft type||Boeing 737 MAX 8|
|Class of travel||Business Class|
|On-time performance||We arrived on time|
I paid 38,000 Velocity Frequent Flyer points + AUD92.30 for a Business Reward seat.
Air Canada normally sells Business Class tickets on this route from CAD1,141 (AUD1,263) one-way. (I was surprised to find that Economy Class tickets on this route are also quite expensive, starting from CAD657 or AUD727 one-way for the ~5 hour flight.)
While I considered my ticket to be a good deal, I would note that the process of booking with Velocity points wasn’t exactly seamless. This reward seat was showing as available on the Virgin Australia website, but the taxes quoted online were way higher than they should have been so I had to book over the phone to get the correct price.
There was also a schedule change after I booked, which seemed to break the booking. After the departure time was changed, Virgin Australia reissued my ticket but the PNRs became desynchronised and Air Canada could no longer access the booking. It took several weeks of phone calls to Virgin Australia and Air Canada to get this resolved. This seems to be a systematic problem affecting Velocity reward bookings on Air Canada when there is a change to the flight number or scheduled departure time!
The check-in process at Mexico City’s Benito Juárez International Airport (MEX) was relatively seamless. Thanks to my Business Class ticket, I was able to use the empty priority check-in line.
I had already checked in online and completed an ArriveCAN declaration using the Canadian government’s ArriveCAN App (which incidentally works way better than the Australia DPD app!). Even though I had already uploaded my COVID-19 vaccination certificate onto the ArriveCAN app and the Air Canada website when checking in online, I still had to show this to the check-in agent along with my ArriveCAN receipt.
Unfortunately, there was no lounge available to Air Canada passengers in Mexico City. Air Canada normally sends Business Class passengers to the United Club, but this has been temporarily closed since 2020. I’m not exactly sure why it hasn’t reopened yet, as United has more or less resumed operating its pre-COVID schedule to Mexico City already and most flights are full. No alternative lounge access arrangements or vouchers were provided by Air Canada.
The airport was quite crowded when I checked in around 5am, but it only took a few minutes to clear security. Boarding for my flight to Montreal began on time and priority boarding worked well.
The Hard Product
Air Canada offers four rows of reclining Business Class seats on its Boeing 737 MAX 8 in a standard 2-2 layout.
Economy on this flight was completely full, but Business Class only had six passengers. This meant everyone in Business had a pair of seats to themselves.
These seats certainly aren’t lie-flat beds, but they are reasonably comfortable for a daytime flight with a well-padded leather base, a cloth back and an adjustable headrest.
The cabin seemed new, was clean and looked exactly like it does in the marketing photos provided by Air Canada. Being a newer Boeing 737, the overhead lockers were quite large and there was a Boeing Sky Interior with pleasant mood lighting.
If you’re tall, I’d suggest avoiding a seat in row 1 which has a bulkhead in front of it. I chose row 2 which had a good amount of legroom and I was able to comfortably stretch my legs under the seat in front.
The seat had a decent amount of recline, as well as a fold-out leg-rest and footrest. These features helped me to find a relatively comfortable sleeping position for a mid-flight nap, although no pillows or blankets were provided.
There was an extensive range of in-flight entertainment content provided on the large, high-definition seatback TV screen. The IFE also came with some handy features, such as the ability to pin a small moving map to the corner of the screen while watching a movie.
There was no wifi available on this flight.
The Soft Product
Before takeoff, the flight attendant introduced herself and handed me a small bottle of water, a kit with a face mask & sanitiser wipes, and headphones. (These were just cheap disposable headphones, so I used my own Bose QC35s during the flight.)
It was a busy morning at Mexico City International Airport, and we waited quite a while in the queue to take off.
We were then treated to some great views after take-off and throughout the flight.
The lead flight attendant Julie, who was also looking after Business Class, was simply excellent. She was professional, provided very attentive and friendly service throughout the flight, and spoke flawless English, French and Spanish.
After take-off, I was offered a choice of an omelette or pancakes for breakfast. I chose the omelette which was served with strawberry yoghurt, fruit and a croissant. There was also a choice of drinks available from the trolley including champagne, but I stuck with orange juice as it was around 8am.
The breakfast was nice, except that I unfortunately found a small (dead) bug on the fruit.
90 minutes before landing in Montreal, more drinks were offered and a basket of ambient sweet and salty snacks was passed around the Business Class cabin. Julie encouraged me to take one of everything.
Soon it was time to prepare for landing. Around the top of descent, we passed over Niagara Falls.
Around five hours after we left Mexico, we landed on time on a beautiful afternoon in Montreal.
Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 Business Class
Overall, this was a pleasant flight that exceeded my expectations.
Although it’s not a lie-flat bed, Air Canada’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 Business Class seat is comfortable and fit for purpose on the short and medium-haul routes where the aircraft flies. The cabin was modern and clean.
No wifi was available, but the in-flight service was otherwise excellent with a substantial hot breakfast and snacks later in the flight provided by a flight attendant who clearly loved her job and made every guest on board feel at home.
It’s just unfortunate that no lounge access or alternative arrangement was provided in Mexico City.
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