Review: Air Canada Executive Class E190, Vancouver – Los Angeles

The first leg of our around the world adventure was on our home carrier Air Canada. Since there is no first class on Star Alliance from our home airport in Vancouver, we had a short hop down to Los Angeles where the real fun was to start.


This post is one chapter in our Around the World in Star Alliance First Class via China, Thailand and Spain. This trip was booked using Air Canada Aeroplan miles. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Read more from this trip:


Review: Air Canada Executive Business Class, Embraer 190, Vancouver – Los Angeles

“Air Canada Executive Class offers a competitive business class product on its Transborder flights.

While the product is pretty conventional, it does offer free Star Alliance Lounge access with a business class ticket which it’s competitors don’t offer”

After a wonderful 4:15 AM wakeup from the house, we made our way to our home airport. Our first leg of our journey was from Vancouver to Shanghai Pu Dong via LAX and ICN. We checked in at the USA departures area in Vancouver and our bags were tagged all the way through to Shanghai. The service was pleasant and I noticed our check in agent checking our ITIN and for our Chinese Visa’s and their validity as she flipped through the passports.

Like other Canadian Airports, US Customs / Immigration Pre-Clearance, so you clear US Customs in Vancouver, and arrive at domestic terminals in the USA. To spice it up though, they’ve added Nexus / Global Entry “Fast Track” lanes that are sometimes, but not always in operation. They seem to be a bit limited on space here so the process involves a labyrinth of mazes and back and forth walking in order to get through the hurdles. Leaving YVR for the USA involves several steps and in the morning it always seems to be a mess.

On the public side, we headed over to the baggage drop, which at this hour was where our line ups started. All carriers share the same belts and your luggage tag passes over a built in scale before it departs on its journey. We joined about 50 people, mostly leisure and cruise travelers as we moved forward to the baggage belts where they scanned our boarding passes with the luggage codes. With three belts / attendants helping people load things on, the process was moving really quickly.

Ms WT73 was fortunate enough to have her Air Canada Boarding Pass stamped with the dubious “SSSS” and was shown over to the “special” screening on the far right. She did get the nude-o-scope, which seems to be par for the course these days. Thoughout all this mess, there were a lot of senior citizens traveling at this time of the day. I took some amusement as US CBP questioned two senior citizens in the booth next to me, whom had never flown internationally before. “Exciting isn’t it?”, asked the CBP officer, in her amused, but sarcastic professional voice. At this point, I was already happy to have invested in Global Entry. I also learned that Nexus is much quicker than Global Entry (if you’re presented with both) as it’s 2 questions plus an eye scan, versus 6 questions, a fingerprint check and a passport scan.

Passing through Customs Clearance, I joined up with MS WT 73 who made it through SSSS unscathed. Already 2 hours into a trip around the world and her eyes were rolling at the whole process.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver Transborder

After a check of the YVR duty free cosmetics for price comparisons, we were over to the comfortable Air Canada Vancouver Transborder Maple Leaf Lounge. Access to the lounge was granted courtesy of the Business Class status of our ticket. Of note, Air Canada offers Business Class Lounge access with its Business Class tickets, unlike it’s fellow American carriers that do not always offer access without the purchase of a day pass or an annual lounge membership.

This is my favorite Maple Leaf Lounge at Vancouver because it’s never over crowded, has lots of natural light, and is quite spacious.

The lounge had some offerings with breakfast. This is usually a cereal offering, with yoghurts, juices and toasts / bagels. It is more than enough for me to make it worth the while to visit, rather than line up at the Starbucks one floor down. In addition, the free, easy to connect Wifi is easy and the use of wireless printing is really handy as well as it keeps life in check (I’ve purchased and printed Bon Jovi tickets from here on a past trip). The only minus to the Maple Leaf Lounges is that due to Liquor Control laws, there is no alcohol served before 11 AM (even if it is in the US Pre-Clearance area!). Minus one point for AC here…

Our flight was leaving from the usual LAX gate today and boarding was without issue.

Air Canada
Executive Class
YVR-LAX (Vancouver International Airport – Los Angeles Terminal 2)
AC 550 – Executive Class (I)
08:00 AM – 10:46 AM
May 5, 2012
Booked: Embrauer 190
Flown: Embrauer 190

On board Air Canada Executive Class:

The cabin was 9/9 today with at least one e-upgrade that I noticed. We were flying an Embrauer 190 down to LAX today. AC Executive has been very full lately, and there are rarely any empty seats anymore. Orders were taken by our flight attendant straight down from the front. Our flight attendant, in a typically French Canadian accent asked us: “Whoould you like an OMeletee or a PANNNcake?” No menus were offered this morning. I asked for a souvenir menu – “Oh, I DIDn’t hang them out because they were waterlogged in Vancouver” A strange comment considering how it wasn’t raining when we left.

Air Canada Executive Class Business Class Seat

Meal Service “Breakfast”:

The usual Air Canada Breakfast Omelette

I enjoyed the usual Air Canada omelette today.

The steward serving us was kind enough to open the bar as soon as we were airborne so Ms WT73 and I shared a bottle of Henry of Pelham Sauvingon Blanc from Niagara Ontario on our way down the coast.

Air Canada Wine Service

The headphones were passed out (free up front). Mine were defective but I was feeling a bit lazy from the early wake ups to bother geting another set. The IFE has recently been expanded on Air Canada’s Aircraft, and, despite the usual problems with the system previously crashing, it is actually among the nicer In Flight Entertainment Systems that are out there. Air Canada had added some older content such as Major League and War of the Roses. I settled into Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and tried to stay as awake as long as I could.

Before we knew it, LAX was in our sights on approach, with new adventures waiting for us.

We arrived into Terminal Two and into the heart of American airports. My personal opinion here, LAX is among the sorriest airports to transit through in America – I am sure it is a shock for some that pass through here. It’s functional, and has some food choices depending on what terminal you are in, but it doesn’t seem very clean and it doesn’t seem well maintained.

Arriving to LAX Terminal Two

You can just see the LAX Maple Leaf Lounge entrance in the upper left hand corner next to the Glorious Air New Zealand Koru Club. That is glorious with a capitial “G”. 

;)

If you need to change terminals at LAX, you have to leave the secure side and walk over (or take the bus) outside, to your next terminal. This can take a bit of time and we walked over to the Tom Bradley International Terminal in anticipation of a wonderful Asiana experience. Since it’s California, the weather is usually always sunny.

Air Canada Transborder Executive Class Summary:

Air Canada Executive Class is a competitive way to get to and from the United States. It provides a competitive product compared to its US Counterparts. Lounge access is complimentary with Air Canada for Business Class ticket holders, unlike the US Carriers that require a lounge membership or day pass purchase in order to access.


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