Review: Air Canada Business Class B787-8, Vancouver International – Seoul Incheon


Our Air Canada Business Class International Departure had us on one of the newest Air Canada configurations in the Boeing 787-8 long haul aircraft. It featured the newest Business Class reverse herringbone suites; which are incredibly private and comfortable for working. Despite a mostly comfortable flying experience, and some somewhat absent service, unfortunately, our flight was set by a two hour delay that made us mis connect.

This post is one chapter on our third Round the World trip via South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, the Maldives and India. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport (World of Hyatt) loyalty programs. 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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Review: Air Canada Business Class B787-8, Vancouver International Airport – Seoul Incheon.

“Air Canada’s newest International Business Class offered a comfortable class leading fully flat suite, highlighted by some sterile service and a two hour delay”

As it came time for our International flight, we departed the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver International and headed down to the gate through the beautiful Vancouver International Departure concourse. It’s always been one of my favourites in the world. It just looks so fresh as far as airport spaces go.

First Nations Art in the Vancouver International Airport Departures Concourse
Tropical Fish Tanks mark the departures hall

We headed down to the boarding gate D54, which was a little ways down the concourse.

The boarding area was a slight mess. The gate agents did their best at managing to keep a priority boarding zone. This meant that they flipped around the priority boarding Zone 1-2 sign to the empty side away from all the travellers that were blocking the entrance. 

Boarding at Gate D54
Air Canada
Business Class
YVR-ICN (Vancouver International Airport – Seoul Incheon Airport)
AC 63 – Business Class (I) 
1:35 PM – 4:20 PM
April 2, 2015
Booked: Boeing 787-800
Flown: Boeing 787-800

The Air Canada Boeing 787-8 is Air Canada’s newest long haul equipment type. It is designed to service the long haul routes when lower capacity seating from a Boeing 777 is needed.

Air Canada Boeing 787-8 livery looking smart in Glacier Blue

On Board Air Canada Business Class:

We made our way through the boarding crowd and made our way on board through a single jet bridge. Once on board, we had a left turn from the boarding door and a clean and fresh looking cabin in the reverse herringbone seats. The Air Canada Boeing 787-8 Business Class configuration is 1-2-1 seating up front.

Air Canada Business Class B787-8 Cabin Overview
Air Canada Boeing 787-8 Business Class Cabin Overview
Air Canada Business Class Cabin, looking aft
Air Canada B787-8 Cabin Overview

Getting to the seat itself, the seating layout wass a little more compact than the past AC Extreme Makeover (XM) Business Class herringbone pods. However, the space is highly functional and well signed for working. There was a load of 10 / 20 today in business class, making for a nice quiet and relaxing ambience.

An Air Canada Business Class Pod – Seat 1A
Air Canada Business Class- Bulkhead Seat 1A
Well designed shelving offers space for storage or work

The space featured many spots to stow articles like phones, and plugs in’s, USB chargers available, although this time there are compartments to actually put them in, as opposed to having them skid all over the countertop. The space was very well designed and is among the best business class spaces that I’ve had the opportunity to sit in; an exceptionally private and productive space.

Under Seat Storage for Laptop Bags

A magazine rack offered space for promotional material, and a reading light was embedded into the structure of the pod.

Magazine Racks for Storage
Reading Lights

The hand controller for the movies features a plug in nearby, along with a touch screen to control the seat movements. I see this as an improvement over the old blue lights. There were additional compartments available to stow devices, that allowed for sufficient space to allow for device charging while securely stowed.

Empower Seat Power and a Wired Remote

The seat adjustments themselves were controlled by touch screen. The design allowed for sit, relax and recline positions.

Touch Screen Seat Controls
Seat Controls

Over time, the Air Canada Boeing 787 Pod takes a bit of getting used to. It has some unusual ergonomic features – arm rests that raise on levers, tables that extend after some fiddling. The on screen seat computer is much darker than the classic pod which has annoying bright blue lights, making it easier overall to get some rest. The large screen monitor is also a nice feature.

Overall, the layout appears much fresher than the older blue pods. The design of the business class layout is much easier to work and relax in, than the last generation.


Pre Departure Beverage Services:

When we arrived to the seat, a bottle of Naya Still Water was waiting for us. A Pre Departure Beverage of “Italian sparkling” was offered. This was topped up with Drappier Champagne about 10 seconds after the aircraft door was closed.

Naya Bottle Watered Made Available on Every Seat

The television monitor is much larger, and is now permanently mounted (no swivel). It now smartly features your seat number. 

It was not the best on time performance from Air Canada today. We were a bit late pushing back at about T + 30. We taxied out to the immediate apron and sat there for about 30 minutes. At about T+ 60 minutes, the captain came on and announced: 

“There’s a problem with the air conditioning unit. We will have to return to the gate for a hard re-boot of the Avionics.”

It seemed fine to me based on the ventilation from the air nozzles, but it was probably different at 40,000 feet. 

“We’re going to have to return to the gate to get it sorted out.” 

We returned to the gate and jet way was put back up to the aircraft. An army of “ACM” vested Air Canada Maintenance Crew boarded the aircraft (6 plus). One person appeared to doing most of the work, with the others standing around. It was sort of like the union break situation at the construction sites I pass by on my drive to work (laughing).

The Captain was out and about during the maintenance process, doing his best to assure passengers of the sustainability of this particular flight. “Looking good” he said with a wink and a smile. 

Air Canada Amenity Kits:

While the maintenance review is was happening, I took a look at the amenity kit. It’s been re-designed to match the new interior. The case of the kit is unbranded like many other Air Canada kits, but contained Escents lotions. It’s a pretty middle of the road kit. Slippers were also offered to passengers (not pictured).

Air Canada Amenity Kits
EScentes Branded Lip Balm and Lotion

We had another announcement at T+80 that the re-boot has been solved and now a pre-flight check needed to be completed. All the maintenance people deplaned while the check was underway. The reboot took much longer than my Windows terminals in my office, lasting about 30 minutes. . . 

We were finally underway from Vancouver on the usual Runway 26 L at T+120; approximately two hours late. We had a quick clear climb to altitude as we finally got underway.

The Meal: A Full Lunch

While we were waiting on our two hour delay sitting on the ground, the menus were passed out. The dinner orders were taken at seat prior to departure. Today’s dinner menus and bar menus…

Air Canada Wine List and Menu
Air Canada Business Class Menu
Air Canada Main Course Menu

Air Canada Wine Consultant Ken Chase was killing me softly again today, advertising wines that were “not available locally”. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything over the top exciting on the menu today, but I was surprised to see some British Columbian Okanagan White Wine on the menu from Quail’s Gate winery about 500 kilometres from the house.

Wine Introduction
Air Canada White Wine List
Air Canada Red Wine List

Getting to the meal service itself, the meal services started with a pre-meal cocktail of Drappier Champagne along with mixed nuts.

Pre-Supper Cocktail with Mixed Nuts

As an appetizer, I enjoyed Poached Nova Scotia Lobster, marinated shrimp and sautéed scallop on tapenade with cucumber, mango salsa and yellow pepper sauce, along with Mixed greens, grape tomatoes, and parmesan served with Balsamic Vinaigrette, paired with Quails Gate Chardonnay.

Poached Nova Scotia Lobster, marinated shrimp and sautéed scallop on tapenade with cucumber, mango salsa and yellow pepper sauce

The main course consisted of stir fried pork and mushroom with Korean chilli paste, presented with steamed rice, and bok choy. It was surprisingly tasty with a bit of a zip. I congratulate Air Canada for getting away from the usual offerings that they’ve had year after year. It was satisfying to try something different on Air Canada for a change.

Stir fried pork and mushroom with Korean chili paste, presented with steamed rice, and bok choy

The third course was assorted cheeses. Oka, camembert and medium cheddar with crackers. The water crackers were served onto the tablecloth no less.

Assorted Cheeses: Oka Camembert and Medium Cheddar

I was still a little hungry at the end of the meal service, so I went with the fourth course and enjoyed a Chocolate marble cheesecake and Bailey’s liqueur. 

Chocolate Marble Cheesecake with Chilled Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur

I am sad to report that the service on today’s flight was much like our experiences on Thai Airways. After the food service was dropped off, the crew pretty much disappeared for the rest of the flight. I never got a single beverage re-fill offered, or even the attendants coming through to offer water. Drop and go was pretty much the set up. This isn’t a direct criticism, but it is in some ways. 

Partway through the flight, we had an announcement that they had to re-boot the in flight entertainment as it was crashing throughout the plane. This wasn’t so bad, except that every announcement was repeated in French and Korean. Those that fly Air Canada regularly will know that every announcement is repeated in several languages. When you start traveling, it’s a bit of a thrill, but after a while, I find it gets pretty old quickly!

After lunch, we had some great photos of the Alaskan handle after lunch.

Photos of the Alaskan Coast
Photos of Mountains in the Alaskan Coast Line

After lunch, the cabin went down for rest 4 hrs into flight, or at about 6:30 PM Vancouver time. 

After the meal service, my pod seat adjustments recliner decided to quit and freeze in a partially reclined state. Since it was impossible to sleep, I had cabin staff restart the software, which took a few minutes and a small commotion as the in-charge figured out who knew how to open the under seat aisle compartment in order to complete this process.

Once the seat was able to recline, I crashed out for about 5 hours. While I was sleeping, the size of the pod is smaller than the previous Air Canada XM Extreme Makeover configurations. As a side sleeper that likes to bend his knees, I found the leg cavity to be a bit tighter than I would like. I had my laptop charging throughout the flight but somewhere along the way the Empower in seat plug decided to quit and cease to work. It’s strange as MrsWT73 power in the seat behind me was working throughout the flight without any issues, meaning that it was a localized problem specific to my seat. 


The Second Service: A light supper

As we were over the Island of Japan, we were set for our second service. The second service consisted of a full meal, including a fruit starter, and a main course. The main course was a vegetarian option, consisting of peppers with Korean glass noodles.

Flight Path over Japan
Fruit Salad, Ciabatta and White Wine
Peppers with Korean Glass Noodles
Wonderful Glass Noodles

On the final approach, we had some views of Incheon Airport at dusk; with some haze oversetting the horizon.

Arriving to Seoul Incheon at Dusk
Korean Air B777 being towed at Seoul Incheon

We landed at Seoul Incheon International Airport and had a “Follow Me” car that led us to our international arrival gate.

Follow Me Car leading us to our Arrival Gate

We ended up arriving to Seoul Incheon over two hours late, which placed us in jeopardy for our connecting Asiana Airlines Business Class Seoul Incheon – Ho Chi Minh flight. We would end up missing this connection, as a result of the delay. Air Canada put us up on a complimentary basis at The Nest Hotel, a Member of Design Hotels during our mis-connection down time.

Our experience on Air Canada Business Class Long Haul:

To sum up the whole experience, Air Canada is offering a slightly better product than the legacy North American carriers. Despite massive investments in new hard product, the 787 suite, although clean and well appointed, it wasn’t as comfortable for a tall person side sleeper like myself. However, it was terrific for working and relaxing.

The food was slightly above average, and the wines were just okay. The service levels were nowhere near the Asian carriers or the Middle Eastern Three. When you add large fuel surcharge fees that apply to some reward programs to the above and there’s a clear reason why there are less trip reports being featured around here with the Air Canada product. Add a two hour flight delay on top of this, and it sums up why I was not completely overwhelmed with joy over the experience.

If you’ve flown Air Canada International Business Class Long Haul, what was your experience like?

3 Comments on “Review: Air Canada Business Class B787-8, Vancouver International – Seoul Incheon

  1. Pingback: What is Air Canada’s business class like? - What Type Degree

  2. Pingback: Which airlines offer business class? - What Type Degree

  3. Pingback: What are the Air Canada business class seats like? - What Type Degree

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