Recently, I got a chance to fly on Air Canada, one of the largest airlines in North America. I took two flights making my way from Atlanta – Toronto – Tokyo and back. Fortunately, I was upgraded to business class (thanks to Air Canada’s PR!) which made the 24-hour long journey relatively easier to get through. Here is my unbiased review.
The E175 plane between ATL-YYK was very old, with 1-2 configuration, small seats even in business class, and outdated TV screen (ones where you see a mouse pointer and a rotating wheel each time you select a tab).
Between YYK-HND, the Boeing 777-300ER plane was newer and more spacious, with a total of 40 seats, spread across two cabins.
International Business Class cabins had a 1-2-1 configuration, each of the Executive Pod seats equipped with 18″ touch flat screen TV’s and flat beds. The firmness of the mattress on the chair could be adjusted using a touch screen comfort system, though I could not feel the difference. There was also a chair massage but I could barely feel it vibrating. The pillow and comforter were quite comfortable for a good night’s rest. There was also an adjustable armrest and a foldable tray table.
Air Canada provided a Canadian-brand Escents Aromatherapy amenities kit for business class passengers with just the basics – socks, toothbrush, ear plugs, lip balm.
The business class cabin had a total of three restrooms, including two between business class cabins, and one at the very front. The restrooms were standard size, and didn’t have especially nice finishes or amenities.
3 out of my 4 flights were delayed by at least half hour. One of the flights was related to a typhoon in Japan, others did not have an explanation.
Noise cancelling headphones were given to the passengers in business class cabin. The selection of movies and TV shows included French, English, Japanese and Hindi, though not as many as I have seen in some of the other airlines. I had seen most of the new releases two months ago on Delta. Also, the ‘search by category’ was rather funky, resulting in English movies when I selected Hindi language.
A selection of premium newspapers, including route-specific titles were offered before takeoff.
Each seat had a personal power supply and USB port for charging electronic devices. It’s always great to arrive at your destination with your cell phone fully charged. There was no Wi-Fi on any of the planes.
Duty-free selections could be accessed from the screen monitors as well as the inflight magazine. Most products were standard, with nothing new or exciting.
The food on board was quite good on Air Canada. Drinks and salted nuts were offered soon after takeoff, though a generous pour of champagne was served in a regular glass.
Meals were served 60-90 minutes after takeoff. For lunch, I had a fresh mixed greens salad, poached tiger prawns with marinated artichokes, grilled eggplant and zucchini lasagna, cheese tray and a decadent dark chocolate fondant with hazelnut praline and cherry compote. This was the best dessert I have eaten in air!
Plentiful snacks were stocked in the galley for between meals, and water bottles were passed out at regular intervals. Since I was flying between Canada and Japan, there were Japanese menu options also including dim sum, noodle soups, congee, chicken teriyaki wrap and yakitori chicken.
The menus on Air Canada are created by celebrated Canadian Chef David Hawksworth.
I have mixed feelings about the service provided by Air Canada. Only on one of the flights, the cabin attendant introduce himself before takeoff and asked for my order. At other times, nobody bothered to even bring a welcome drink before takeoff. Service during the flight was courteous and to the point. I didn’t feel like anyone went out of their way to make me feel special.
The on-ground staff was a bit more courteous and smiling.
Prior to landing, the flight attendant passed out enveloped asking for donations of left over currency for the The Air Canada Foundation, a registered charity focused on the health and well-being of children and youth. I thought this was a great idea since I hate bringing back foreign currency coins, which I eventually lose or never use again.
I visited Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge in Toronto on a Friday evening. Though parts of the airport are quite modern, the lounge looked outdated with uncomfortable brown and blue leather chairs and dirty tables. Limited food and drinks were offered to guests. At dinner time, there was only mac n cheese, nachos and salads. They did have kids play room, a loud entertainment room, and a business area. I was also able to use complimentary shower facilities where they provided a towel, but no toiletries. Also, there is no place to hang your clothes in the shower rooms so leave your jackets outside.
Air Canada is Canada’s largest airline and the largest provider of scheduled passenger services in the Canadian market, the Canada-U.S. trans-border market and in the international market to and from Canada. Air Canada is among the 20 largest airlines in the world and employs 30,000 people. Its corporate headquarters are in Montreal, and four major hubs are Toronto (YYZ), Montreal (YUL), Vancouver (YVR) and Calgary (YYC).
In my opinion, Air Canada can be best described as ‘safe, reliable and no frills’ airline that prioritizes serving the people, environment and community.