Canadian All Stars
Genuine hospitality and a cutting-edge business class product has helped Air Canada spearhead premium travel in North America and across to Asia, discovers Nick Walton on a recent flight to Vancouver.
The Air Canada two-class 777-300ER features two International Business Class cabins with a total of 42 seats. Although the cabin initially looked a little cramped, you quickly realise there is real ergonomics at play here, both at a cabin and seat level.
At 6ft 7-inches long and 21-inches wide, Air Canada’s Executive Pods offer plenty of storage; a tray that slides directly from beneath a large 18-inch touchscreen monitor; and easily-accessible USB and AC ports, both of which are secreted in a deep-set drawer at the centre of a large armrest. With the addition of single pin audio jacks (for those who like to bring their own headphones), a touchscreen for seat position, supplied noise-reduction headphones, personal air flow, and access to an extensive range of movies, television programmes and music channels, this is one of our favourite business class setups to date.
We were welcomed into the spotlessly clean cabin by cheerful Air Canada crew who delivered menus and glasses of champagne, and took post take-off drink orders as the cabin filled up. We pulled back on time and departed soon after with an estimated 11-hour 35 minute flight time.
Air Canada’s service levels immediately shone through. Charming, mature cabin crew introduced themselves to passengers in both cabins and quickly began a seamless dinner service, with hot towels, warm nuts, and a well-measured gin and tonic. In fact, throughout the flight crew patrolled the cabin and were always happy to help – no hiding in the galley through 90 percent of the flight for this lot.
Dinner started approximately 40 minutes after take-off with an appetiser of smoked duck breast with micro greens, fresh orange, diced green apple, red chard and zesty prune chutney. This was followed by pan-fried chicken breast with café de Paris butter, herb barley and peppers, green zucchini and baby carrots, which was perfectly cooked and perfectly proportioned. I followed this with a selection of cheese – Red Cheddar, Gouda and Brie – matched with Dow’s Port, after one of the better meals I’ve had at 39,000ft. In addition to the a la carte menu, the airline offers on its long-haul flights an Express Light Meal Option, and a Flexible All-Inclusive Option.
For brunch, which was served 75 minutes before landing, I opted for assorted steamed dumplings with XO sauce, which were light but delicious, the XO sauce and a Lavazza double espresso both offering a little pick me up as we arrived in the late afternoon in Vancouver.
Rest & Relaxation
During my meal, I made the most of the airline’s entertainment system, catching up on one classic movie and one new release before beginning to doze off. The system boasts over 600 hours of programming, with gate-to-gate access which is always appreciated. The screen’s positioning and size makes for a near-cinematic experience that really helps the hours fly by.
When in bed mode, the seat’s cushion is very comfortable, especially when matched with a warm duvet and an oversized pillow, and I managed to fall asleep easily.
Well-priced, with great service, market leading hardware and a truly elegant dining proposition, Air Canada impressed the pants off us on our journey from Hong Kong to Vancouver. Hong Kong to Vancouver return in International Business Class from US$3,563. www.aircanada.com