Quick Report AC38/37 - MEL-YVR Return in J Class | Australian Frequent Flyer
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Quick Report AC38/37 - MEL-YVR Return in J Class

mel-world

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I'd like to give a short report on my recently completed J Class journey on AC 38/37, the 787-900 flight between MEL and YVR return and the onward AC548/549 pairing to/from EWR. I chose these flights as they provide an excellent same airline journey to NY with the added attraction of not having to deal with US Immigration and Customs in LAX or SFO. The total trip was about as easy and convenient as possible, leaving MEL at 0920 and having only a 90 min stopover in YVR before continuing on the same (or same type) aircraft to NY, arriving at a civil time of 1650 the same day.

All flights were on time and not affected by the weather in Melbourne on 9 August. However, the route did come in over BRI and SYD, in case we needed to divert. 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. Not much to see though over the Pacific and in total darkness on the return. I had seat 1K throughout the journey and did not find it noisy despite it being near the galley (but not near either of the two toilets in business class). 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 desk space around the seat and the overhead bins on the 787 are so large that rollers can be stowed vertically - Row 1 does have less overhead storage as the cabin crew use the space for headsets and amenity bags. The IFE was easy to use on the touchscreen or separate controller. I did not use the paid WiFi and only watched a couple shows during the entire itinerary, preferring my downloaded music and Netflix programmes thru my own Bluetooth headset.

The crew were professional, if not particularly proactive, throughout the long and shorter sectors although the MEL flight was obviously popular for the more experienced crew as it gave them a 2 day layover rather than the 24 hours in SYD (as the flight is not daily as yet). Given the load though, I think AC will need to go to a daily flight soon. The YVR-EWR sectors were packed as the crew pointed out that this was one of the few trans-continental wide-bodied daylight flights and so was very popular.

The main disappointment was the food, especially on the 15 hour sector from YVR to MEL. 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.

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.

(I paid for my own ticket).
 

goldenhorn

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Apr 11, 2011
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Thanks for the very informative report @mel-world

I just booked AC 34/33 SYD-YVR / ORD-YVR-SYD for June/July next year. Not sure if that route is the same aircraft. Do you know?

First time on AC J so looking forward to trying it out. I'm hoping it can't be worse than UA J SYD-IAH-SYD that I did to the US this year.

Sounds like the food was disappointing. But the food in UA J was about economy standard - served on crockery - at best.

May I ask what Champagne is served on your AC flight if you happen to remember?

It's my favourite drink, but UA ran out after 2 hours into the flight. What a nightmare. Argh!
 

mel-world

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AC34/33 is operated by a 777-200LR, rather than the newer 787-900 but I would think the seats and service will be comparable.

The champagne offered was called 'sparkling wine' so not sure it was even French but did not check as I do not drink it.
 

jase05

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Thanks for the very informative report @mel-world

I just booked AC 34/33 SYD-YVR / ORD-YVR-SYD for June/July next year. Not sure if that route is the same aircraft. Do you know?

First time on AC J so looking forward to trying it out. I'm hoping it can't be worse than UA J SYD-IAH-SYD that I did to the US this year.

Sounds like the food was disappointing. But the food in UA J was about economy standard - served on crockery - at best.

May I ask what Champagne is served on your AC flight if you happen to remember?

It's my favourite drink, but UA ran out after 2 hours into the flight. What a nightmare. Argh!
AC is listing the 777-200LR on that route.
I love reading reports like this as we have never been to the USA but are planning for one hopefully next year so these trip reports are invaluable in helping us select our options.
 

MEL_Traveller

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Thanks for the report! I was looking at the Air Canadia option, also with a 90 minute connection, but worried this wouldn't have enough time for US immigration pre-clearance. Obviously it all goes pretty smoothly?
 

mel-world

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US Immigration is only dealing with those connecting to the States from Asia and Oceania plus pax leaving Vancouver. An easy transfer.
 

luxury-lizard

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I have flown SYD-YVR and YVR-SYD many time in J - on AC - it is very convenient whether you are transiting to other locations in Canada or the US - US immigration pre-departure to the US is super easy compared to any arrival in directly into US from OZ (I've never waited more than a few minutes).

AC do serve "real" French Champagne just not pre-departure where it is sparkling. I have always found the service in J to be somewhere between "fine" and extremely friendly - just depends on the crew. The food is a bit of a low-light - but I never expect much on any airline in that regard. (In fact some of the worst meals I have ever had have been on SQ which is my all time favourite airline).
 

GJC

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I have booked Premium economy for next month to Vancouver. Upgrade offer of $1400.00 dependant on load is available. ( normal cost $8000). So will be half price if accepted. Has anyone flown Premium Y on AC. Have booked last row so I can recline without issue. Thanks
 

Isochronous

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Did you have to pay for the Canadian equivalent of ESTA as a transit pax?
 

mel-world

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Yes, I believe you are technically entering Canada, even if you then immediately transfer to a US destination. Mind you, this will only cost CAN$7 (as long as you apply on the official site). I had a stopover so automatically applied for the eTA.

The good news is that you arrive in the US at a domestic terminal and US Immigration at YVR is much easier most times of the day than at ports like LAX and SFO.
 

MEL_Traveller

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Have booked last row so I can recline without issue. Thanks
I'd be looking for a bulkhead seat if possible. No one to recline in to you and unrestricted legroom (use a cabin bag after takeoff to create a fully horizontal legrest)
 

pauly7

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Thank you very much for the trip report, I have some Canadian travel next year and have not heard great things about Air Canada so have been working out if I fly QF to LAX//SFO or VA to LAX and just connect because at least I know on the AU airlines I’ll get a great product to the US.

I have heard the AC catering is very average so you have reinforced this, and the seat is not the most comfortable either.... so I’m not sure what to do.... I would much rather fly direct but not on an average product....
 

luxury-lizard

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Thank you very much for the trip report, I have some Canadian travel next year and have not heard great things about Air Canada so have been working out if I fly QF to LAX//SFO or VA to LAX and just connect because at least I know on the AU airlines I’ll get a great product to the US.

I have heard the AC catering is very average so you have reinforced this, and the seat is not the most comfortable either.... so I’m not sure what to do.... I would much rather fly direct but not on an average product....
If you're flying J I would definitely recommend AC - the non-stop combined with no US transit makes AC win hands down in my opinion. The last time I flew QF to/from YVR (a clapped out 747 direct to SYD-YVR then A380 on the LAX-SYD leg) - neither flight was as good as AC - particular the seat - the service was certainly no better than AC - can't remember how the food compared (this was 2 + years ago). However I have never flown VA to LAX and have not flown any of the US airlines for many years.

If you're flying Y or PE - I can't offer an opinion - maybe select route based on price or consider HN or JL via Japan depending on your preferred alliance.
 

pauly7

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If you're flying J I would definitely recommend AC - the non-stop combined with no US transit makes AC win hands down in my opinion. The last time I flew QF to/from YVR (a clapped out 747 direct to SYD-YVR then A380 on the LAX-SYD leg) - neither flight was as good as AC - particular the seat - the service was certainly no better than AC - can't remember how the food compared (this was 2 + years ago). However I have never flown VA to LAX and have not flown any of the US airlines for many years.

If you're flying Y or PE - I can't offer an opinion - maybe select route based on price or consider HN or JL via Japan depending on your preferred alliance.
Thank you!

I’d be on the business suites if flying QF (or VA’s J which although ageing is still great) and because of the client I would be with, transit would not be a problem (VIP)....
Decisions!
 

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