I was quite excited for this flight as I had high expectations for my first flight on Air Canada’s 787 which was announced a few years back. Thus I head out earlier from the crowded Maple Leaf lounge to take some photos of the plane from the gate.
AC149 Toronto Pearson YYZ – Vancouver YVR
Boeing 787-8 C-GHPT
Gate A16 Seat 4D
Boarding was called by zones indicated on the boarding pass, though it was tough to see the zone queue as the gate area was crowded. After a photo ID check at the gate, I was let through onto the cabin.
The 787 cabin was a huge step up for Air Canada and it is nicely decorated, making it instantly my favourite amongst the other 787 I have taken. While the colour scheme is a boring gray, it works very well with the red Maple Leaf logo of the airline.
On the seat there was a pillow, duvet set and a small puny pair of headphones. Rummaging through the multiple storage areas, I found the remnants of the previous flight’s menu and a Jewish newspaper indicating this plane arrived from Air Canada’s flight to Tel Aviv. The seat looks bare and maybe the crew did not do a thorough job in clearing the cabin, so that did let down the nice new cabin a little bit.
Drinks choices of orange juice or water was offered but they were served in plastic cups. For an upgraded cabin, it seems the airline has yet to upgrade the service.
Then menus were distributed and orders for dinner taken while waiting for boarding. The list of food for the flight was as follow:
There was a slight delay for take off as the first officer needed to be replaced and another round of drinks were offered. This time round they came on glassware. But no newspapers were offered to the fully occupied cabin on the ground. While waiting on the ground, I checked out the storage around the seat. This is a very nicely designed reverse herringbone seat with space for small items like wallets, keys and glasses beside the armrest. The entertainment controls are also located inside this small storage area. A touch screen control for the seats and lighting are located outside this storage space and they are all easily accessible while seated.
The lack of proper headphones for this trans-continental flight in Business class was also disappointing as I would have expected a proper over-the-ear headphones rather than these small ones commonly found in Economy class cabins.
With the herringbone cabin and aisle access from every seat, the cubicle for the feet was still quite spacious and there are even more storage space by the leg. There is also a retractable armrest on my left that can be hidden to allow easier exit into the aisle. On the right, there is a privacy divider in case you are not travelling with the other passenger next to you.
The safety instruction card and inflight magazines are stored in the compartment beside the legrest that is easily accessible as well. There is another compartment on the left for newspapers and the inflight menu as the leftover ones can be seen in the photo above. Another note I would like to make is that Air Canada still makes some great inflight magazines!
The novelty of being in a new cabin meant I did not really mind the extra wait on the tarmac and the mood lighting on Boeing’s new jets certainly improved the ambience inside the plane. Thus it made for a pleasant wait as I lounged in the seat, reading some magazines I brought along with me from the lounge.
About half an hour past our scheduled departure, we finally pushed back and made for the slow taxi to the runway, meaning we took off nearly an hour behind schedule. I turned towards the inflight entertainment system after take-off and found the options to be decent but not leading in any sense.
The crew came around with warm towels before asking for drink orders. I had a glass of ginger ale along with a ramekin of warm cashews. Since I was a bit hungry due to the wait, I asked for extra cashews while I waited for the main meal.
For the appetizers, there was prosciutto and cantaloupe which I enjoyed. The presentation was nice and the portion was adequate. Quality of the ham and the cantaloupe was as good as I could get in Canada. There was also a tasty side of salad with an offer of bread from the basket.
Moving to the main course, I had selected the curry chicken dish. This was a mistake since the curry had no kick at all and it was disappointing considering the number of Indian immigrants in Canada. The chicken pieces were also tough and dry so I did not like the main course at all. In general the main course onboard Air Canada are usually not very good in my past experiences.
However I was looking forward to dessert service as I liked the cookies Air Canada serves. It took quite a while before the cabin crew came out to offer desserts, and passengers could just doze off while waiting. Maybe it was the strategy of Air Canada’s attendants so they have less passengers to serve? Anyway the warm crispy chocolate cookies were perfect to end the meal and it was served with ice cream and a bowl of fruits. I also had a cup of coffee to go along with dessert.
After the meal, I converted the seat to a lie-flat bed since the cabin light was dimmed. I utilized the duvet that was included and noticed the whole seat was comfortable enough for a Business class cabin and I certainly would not mind being in this seat for a long haul flight to Asia or Europe from Canada.
The touch-screen controls on the armrest was also good to control the lighting around the seat. There are reading lights, lights on the footwell to make it easier to look for your shoe or fallen objects, and an ambient light for the divider. I think these lights create a cool touch to the overall cabin. Eventually, I fell asleep halfway into the flight as we cruised past Saskatchewan.
I had a nice nap all the way until the captain announced our descent into Vancouver. Landing was a bit rough and there was a bit of turbulence too on our descent but we did land safely without incident. Upon our arrival, the stewardess mentioned our on-time arrival was due to the the fact the aircraft is ‘very fast’. Seems to me the crew are indeed very proud of their new 787s.
Service onboard this flight was standard and for a full flight in Business class, it was efficient enough and I think most passengers did get their choice of meals. However the overall amenities was lacking for a Business class flight, and aside from the new seat, Air Canada still needs to upgrade their food and amenities for it to be on-par with the Asian carriers.