Date: May 2016
Flight #: 6
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9
On Time: Y
Reward Flying Experience: 7.2 of 10 ✈
I admit being very excited to fly on a 787 for an extended period. I wanted to see how the increased pressurization and humidity in the 787 cabin affected me. My only other 787 flight had been on the third United delivery right after the battery incident was resolved and the planes were cleared to fly again. It was a short crew familiarization flight from Chicago to Houston. So this 12 hour trip was the test!
My perceptions. First I slept really well on the plane, probably for a good 6 hours and that would be a first for me. Now was it the plane or me just tired? I can’t prove either one, just that I’ve never slept that well on any plane. The second is that arriving in Toronto I felt pretty good. I had to connect to Chicago so my journey was not complete. All in all it was 6 hours before I arrived home after landing. I wasn't wiped out so maybe there is something to the these cabin changes that's good for me.
787 fliers have opinions on both sides of the fence, helps or doesn’t. Count me on the help side.
Reward Availability: 6 of 10 ✈
✔︎A bit of luck
Air Canada does a fairly good job of making reward travel available in premium class. For me the problem is connecting to Toronto. Montreal is more difficult and you can forget Vancouver.
Value for Reward per redemption point: 7 of 10 ✈
The one-way retail business class fare was $6,100 when I redeemed my reward. At 75,000 points that’s 8 cents, which is great. However fares have been all over the place, $4,500 one way and $2,623 round trip for some random dates I pulled. That’s 6 cents and 1.7 cents redemption value at 75,000/150,000 points. Gotta love air fare pricing.
All ticketing completed on United’s website, easy and without issue. (In fact I did this one on their mobile app!)
Stay at Gate
When arriving at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, which by the way is beautiful inside, I went searching for the ANA lounge. A handy touch screen map points you in the right direction. Just tell it where you want to go. I was in the middle of the terminal and my gate was 145. It showed a lounge next to my gate. So I walked down and the lounge was closed. I didn’t read the hours, it is only open in the morning. So I got my exercise for the day walking to the other end of the terminal for that ANA lounge.
The lounge is large with many different rooms to relax in and has a great view of the airfield.
Food and drink, compared to Tokyo Narita, was not as plentiful. There wasn’t anyone making fresh sushi. Just a few pre-made maki rolls as well as some noodles, soups, sandwiches and salads. Typical beverages were offered.
What were they thinking?
When doing the seating blog for Air Canada, I made the opinion that their new business cabin was gorgeous. I was not disappointed. Some may not not care for the two-tone grey, I like it. And their maple leaf logo couldn't be made to look better.
This was a 9 series which has 30 seats in business all in the forward cabin. The 8 series has only 20. Designed in the reverse herringbone style all seats have direct aisle access.
I chose 1A, or should I say when I booked it I was assigned 1A. Since you have to call AC to change, as their mobile app or website doesn’t allow seat changes on tickets booked with other airlines (UA), I just left it alone. Some blogs even claimed 1A has more leg room.
This cabin was full so I wasn’t able to see if the footwell claim is true but I found something I disliked about 1A (1K too). Besides being by the galley, which wasn’t a huge bother the issue is with the way the aisle is arranged.
In front of row one are compartments for the crew. The compartments are wider than the the seat pods against the windows. Therefore when entering the cabin from the front door or front galley the aisle is angled in towards the window. The curtain that closes off the cabin is at about at a 25 degree angle and it's right in front of the seat opening. So when someone opens the curtain they are facing you directly and it has the appearance they are walking into your seat area. I just found this distracting and lacking privacy. I would choose something in the middle cabin area next time.
The 787 has huge overhead compartments. This carry-on stretches the girth limit and there is plenty of room above. And hooray for Air Canada, adjustable air vents!!!
✔︎Just like home
Get me off this plane
This was my first ride on a B/E Aerospace Super Diamond and hopefully not my last. It is everything the hype says it is.
Upon entering the cabin all amenities are precisely laid out. Your duvet and pillow on the seat, amenity kit, slippers and spare earbuds on the side table, IFE controller / electrical port storage compartment door open, IFE monitor on along with a bottle of water. Every pod was identical.
Underneath the touch screen control panel is a magazine/safety card holder as well as some kind of triangular storage area. The footwell has another storage area which can hold a tablet or laptop (There’s a warning notice about not storing anything on the ottoman. I wonder how many people get on their hands and knees to read it?) The ottoman and footwell are plenty wide for comfort. (Note the ottoman looks broken as its bend down. It’s not, was secured firmly, that's just the way it is.) On the side of the seat neatly placed is a reading lamp that has its intensity controlled by the touchpad.
The touch panel controls your lighting, seat, and attendant features. You can use the manual buttons to adjust the seat as well. From the Home menu select:
Service: To ring for a flight attendant, wake for meals or set the do not disturb light.
Ambiance: To adjust the lighting.
Control: To adjust the position of your seat.
Comfort: To adjust the seat cushion.
✔︎Like a Rock
As I stated, quality sleep on this plane was a first for me. Maybe it was the plane, maybe the seat, probably both. The bed has lots of leg room as well as width due to an adjustable armrest.
Cabin/Seats: 8 of 10 ✈
A pair of slippers along with an amenity kit featuring Escents skin products, socks, eye mask, ear plugs, toothbrush, floss and toothpaste was waiting when you arrived. A set of earbuds was also provided which you could use before they passed out the headphones and after they were collected. Nice touch.
✔︎ Wine Menu
Multiple coffee selections
✔︎ Multiple tea selections
Beverage selection was pretty good. Liquors weren’t necessarily top shelf but I found it interesting that they offered an organic red wine, which was actually quite good.
Air Canada has installed an expresso/cappuccino makers on the 787 aircraft and use Lavazza brand coffee. I ordered a cappuccino however I was told that the part of the machine that made the milk foam was broken, I could only get an expresso.
Food Menu Selections and food extras:
✔︎Printed, multiple cuisines
Printed, single cuisine
Verbal by flight attendant
✔︎Mid flight snacks
Air Canada offers some express meal options for folks who want to get to sleep right away. Otherwise the menu was fairly extensive, with three international selections and one Japanese selection for dinner. The brunch menu however was one international selection and two Japanese selections. I went Japanese all the way.
The meal was presented nicely. Care was taken to arrange the appetizer tray as well as provide a chop stick rest.
Compliments to the Chef
✔︎Fine dining with a miss or two
No rave reviews
Get me a meal from economy
I have no idea of what some of the appetizers were other than the soba noodles and soup. But the 2nd one from the left, with the 4 green peas was outstanding.
The main however was just ok. Somewhat chewy for braised beef and wasn’t robust with flavor. However it was edible, just not memorable.
Dessert for me was tiramisu. They had ice cream and cheeses as well. Certainly nothing to get overly excited about.
No mid-flight snacks for me. But brunch was served 90 minutes before landing. I chose the congee rice with sticky egg. I guess croissants are now part of Japanese cuisine, I didn’t know that.
While us Westerners probably look at this as an odd combination, it was very good, with the exception of the salmon, which was not edible. Shoe leather would be more tender.
All in all the food had some hits and some misses. (Better than some of the internet stories about AC food however!)
Food/Amenities: 6 of 10 ✈
IFE: 7 of 10 ✈
Can I stay and watch some more?
✔︎Watched a favorite and went to sleep
400 cable channels and nothing to watch
Glad I brought my tablet
The enRoute IFE system is a robust product that has some interesting features. It is touch screen as well as having a smartly placed controller tucked inside a closable compartment.
The lower navigation bar has an email selection. It is here passenger messages are shown, in this case a message to fasten seat belts as well as one about the duty free shop being open. There are also shortcuts to the entertainment sections, airshow as well as lighting, flight attendant calling and settings on this bar.
The main menu:
Watch and Listen: Movies, TV shows and music.
Shop: Duty free
Moving Map: Numerous map views including a simulated cockpit screen that shows airspeed, altitude, etc.
Eat and Drink: What is being served on board, except not food, only beverage. And it showed the cappuccino that wasn’t available.
About US: A lot of information about Air Canada
Kids Corner: Kids shows and games
Travel: Here you could select from a list of international cities and get recommendations of hotels, restaurants and sights to see. However the city list and recommendations were not very comprehensive. Might be a work in progress.
Yes and Free
Yes and Purchase
✔︎ Not Available
Crew: 6 of 10 ✈
Made the flight special
✔︎Did their job
Did they board?
The FA crew was very nice. They were attentive but not necessarily proactive as I had to ask for some water.
Aircraft: 9 of 10 ✈
✔︎Didn’t realize was on a plane
Time for a trade-in
The Boeing 787 is quiet, spacious as well as having the pressurization/humidity benefits that I mentioned earlier. The mood lighting is also cool. If you need negatives, the lavatories are small and the cappuccino maker was broken.
This flight on Air Canada was a great experience. With the rankings I assign, this flight is up near the top. (7 of 10 where LH is tops with 8 of 10.) With some improvements in catering, AC could be a star. Even so, with an expanding fleet of 787 aircraft, good reward availability and a quality business class seat, I certainly don’t mind connecting in Toronto for more international flights on Air Canada.
Do you have any Air Canada experiences you'd like to share? Feel free to leave a comment.