Air Canada flies from three Australian cities to Vancouver. There are daily Boeing 777 flights from Sydney to Vancouver, and the Star Alliance carrier flies daily from Brisbane and 4x weekly from Melbourne to Vancouver using Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
AFF member mel-world recently flew in Air Canada Business Class on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from Melbourne to Vancouver. This member chose Air Canada as they were connecting onwards to New York. Air Canada offered a convenient one-stop connection via Vancouver, with Dreamliners the whole way. By flying via Canada, immigration and customs formalities are also completed in Vancouver for both Canada and the USA, avoiding the need to complete these formalities in Los Angeles – as would normally be the case if flying Qantas, Virgin Australia, Delta or American Airlines.
One other advantage of flying via Canada is that you’re now covered by the Canadian government’s air passenger protections.
Air Canada’s “Signature Class” is laid out in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone configuration on the Boeing 787. The Business Class seats, as you would expect, are lie-flat. (Similar seats are used on the Boeing 777s which fly from Sydney to Vancouver.) Sitting in 1K, mel-world found the seats comfortable enough, but not perfect.
The new aircraft were all comfortable although I did find the seats very hard and quite narrow for a J Class cabin with a 1-2-1 configuration. The window seats do face the windows so you do get a good view if the crew do not automatically close all the electronic shades.
The seats lie flat with your feet on an ottoman under the seat in front but the ‘mattress’ was so thin as to be useless and the cabin so hot (on my flights) that the doona was unnecessary. The length was adequate for me at 1.80m.
There was plenty of storage space and room to spread out, and the in-flight entertainment system was modern.
mel-world describes the Air Canada cabin crew as “professional, if not particularly proactive”, but a big let-down was the food. The catering and (lack of) service on the 16-hour sector from Vancouver to Melbourne was particularly disappointing…
Being a late evening departure, they might have expected J class pax to have eaten in the lounge but there was not much choice their either. The first service was a one tray offering (salad, roll and cheese) with the main course delivered soon after. There was also a dessert run (a tiny portion), tea/coffee and a couple of offerings of wine. There was plenty of cheese but, unfortunately, only two small biscuits to eat it with.
You were then left alone for 12 hours before a breakfast 75 mins before landing that was not much better – I have had more attractive main courses on Australian domestic services. You were able to order a few hot snacks mid flight and most passengers did this so the service got slower and slower and the choices more limited. I do need to add though that a couple of the meals on other sectors were better presented and tasted wholesome but you will never get fat on the portion sizes.
While Air Canada 787 Business Class is a comfortable way to fly, it seems the experience is not up there with the world’s leading airlines. Here are the final thoughts from mel-world:
So, overall, a mixed bag as far as a Business Class long haul flight is concerned. A convenient, well timed, way to get to the US East Coast with a quick transfer in the one terminal, a new aircraft and a reasonable seat. The crew were not as good as Virgin or Air New Zealand across the Pacific and the food definitely did not meet the standard expected on a flight of this length.
If you’re interested in redeeming points or miles to fly Air Canada Business Class from Australia to Vancouver, the airline tends to release a little bit of award availability here and there. You can book a seat using miles with any Star Alliance airline – such as Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer or United MileagePlus miles.
Read the full view and join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Quick Report AC38/37 – MEL-YVR Return in J Class