Review: Air Canada Signature Business Class B787-9, Vancouver – Toronto


Air Canada recently recognized that they are able to offer a very strong competitive advantage in the form of a fully flat business class seat an executive pod over its usual narrow body recliner seats. Air Canada has branded this as Air Canada Signature Class promising an elevated end to end experience. How would it stand up on a trans continental route ?

This post is one chapter on our trip to the Republic of Tanzania and the Islands of the Seychelles. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and enhanced through World of Hyatt and Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. 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 Signature Business Class B787-9, Vancouver International Airport – Toronto Pearson International Airport Terminal One

We had a bit of a rushed get away this morning from the house. With this being the first leg of a two week East Africa trip, we took extra steps to make sure the house was buttoned up. We’ve had a dry spring so I spent lots of time giving the plants an extra long water. MrsWT73 volunteered to drive us to the airport today so we packed up the car and we were off at 10 AM.

Checking into Air Canada Signature Class:

MrsWT73 dropped me off at the Vancouver International Airport Domestic Terminal with the bags while she went to park the car. The area is getting quite small and they have out grown their foot print in the old original airport building which dates back to 1968.

Air Canada Vancouver Domestic Priority Check In

We checked in at the Air Canada Priority Desk that has been jazzed up in elegant black since the last time we flew with them. This desk handles all business class domestic and international check ins for Air Canada. The US Transborder Departures are handled at a separate area that is closer to the US Pre-Clearance facility.

Air Canada Vancouver Domestic Priority Check In

A friendly check in agent verified our Tanzanian’ visa’s and was excited to hear that we were travelling all the way to Tanzania. “Have fun you guys” she exclaimed as she sent us on our way with three boarding cards. Our bags were tagged the entire way to DAR Dar Es Salaam, and flagged with Star Alliance Priority Tags.

There was a long line at security screening today that had about 200 people in it. Thanks to Nexus Trusted Traveller cards, we followed the pathway around to the left at screening check point “B” and snuck our way into the security lane that only had about 5 people in it. While Air Canada Signature Business Class also offered Priority Security Screening, we didn’t end up using this feature.

After we had cleared security, we passed the new First Nations Art work in the C wing. We headed down to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge – Domestic Terminal. It is pretty cool that there are Brentwood boxes decorating the inside of the Vancouver Airport representing the local indigenous art of the area.

Indigenous Art in Vancouver International Airport

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver Domestic:

I’ve reviewed the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge – Domestic Terminal several times before, so please see there for those reviews along with access information. This lounge used to be a regular stop over of mine, but it has been probably 6 months since I’d visited last.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Access

The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver Domestic has its lobby area on the entrance level followed by a rectangular shape on the upper level. The lounge itself is looking quite worn. The leather chairs are quite beat up and there are a lot of stains on the carpet. The place has gotten quite a bit of use recently.

Lounge Seating: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver Domestic
Lounge Seating: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge – Vancouver Domestic

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge – Food and Beverage

MrsWT73 insisted that we eat in the lounge on the way there instead of stopping for a proper meal. “There will be sandwiches there lovey”. Famous last words. . . Unfortunately, it seems as though there have been some cost cutting. Two salads, green peas and flatbread was all that was on offer. Now looking less than United Clubs an Even the Plaza Premium Priority Pass options in Vancouver are looking much more nicely appointed than the Maple Leaf Lounge.

Despite the meager food selection, there were a handful of British Columbia wines available. There were also lots of self pour spirits. It wasn’t anything too exciting but nice to have the option.

A Wide Selection of Hard Spirits

The best part of the lounge are the large windows with views across to the domestic / international swing gates and the coast mountains north of Vancouver. There are great views from the lounge of the international and domestic apron.

Views of an Air Canada Boeing 777 from the Comfort of the Lounge
Outstanding Views of the Air Canada Glacier Blue Green Livery
Air Canada
AC 116 – Signature Business Class (I)
YVR-YYZ (Vancouver International Airport – Toronto Pearson International Airport)
May 26, 2018
01:00 PM – 8:22 PM
Booked: Boeing 787-900
Flown: Boeing 787-900

We headed down at about fifty minutes before our flight to Gate C49, which was one gate up from the Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver Domestic. Today’s service was on a beautiful new Boeing 787-900 with the attractive “sunglasses” livery. Air Canada boards by zone and it wasn’t long before the zone gate mazes filled up.

Air Canada Boarding by Zone Maze at Gate C49
The Air Canada Sunglasses Livery for the Air Canada Boeing 787-900

On Board Air Canada Signature Business Class:

We were able to board in Zone 1 and we were the 5th and 6th people on board the aircraft. We guided ourselves to our assigned Signature Business Class Seats 4A and 3A. Air Canada offers a pretty nice 787 reverse herringbone product with a business class cabin set up in a 1 – 2 – 1 configuration. When we arrived to the seat, we found the sleep set waiting for us, consisting of upgraded but unbranded bedding along with a pillow.

Air Canada Signature Business Class B787-9
Suite 4A: Air Canada Signature Business Class
A Suite of Contrasts
An Overhead View: Air Canada Signature Business Class
A Space With Lots of Elbow Room
A Video System that Highlighted Our Destination

The seat itself has electronic seat controls accessed by a touch screen. These controlled the seat reclines, the in suite lighting system and the flight attendant call button.

A Touch Screen Seat Control
Service, Ambiance, Seat Control and Comfort Menus

There were also thankfully individual air vent nozzles. It’s a feature I’ve grown to appreciate more and more through my years of flying.

Our Seat had Personal Individual Air Nozzles

Consistent with a modern seat, there were lots of great cubby holes, storage place and plug ins. The most convenient one was the wallet, phone and device storage that featured Empower in seat power. It also featured a wired remote control for the television monitor.

A Wired Remote Control, along with Empower in Seat Power
A Space for Water Bottles under the side of the seat
A Magazine Rack in the Footwell, featuring Air Canada’s Enroute Magazine

Pre-Departure Services:

As we prepared to get underway, a bottle of Naya still water was dropped off. It wasn’t clear to me whether this was to be saved for the flight or whether this was the “pre-departure beverage”. It seems that they have either cut the Pre – Departure Beverage on domestic flights since no one ever came around again to offer anything. I ended up shelving the water for later in the flight.

The Pre-Departure Water that became a regular water

While we were waiting to get underway, the menus were also dropped off. The wine lists were of the “ask your server” variety; also known as non existent as it wasn’t loaded.

Air Canada Signature Class Menu
Air Canada Signature Class Menu Vancouver – Toronto

The captain came onto the public address system to announce a shorter than usual flight time of 3 hrs and 47 minutes flight time and 4 hours and 19 minutes gate to gate. As this was happening, the flight attendants came around to take lunch orders. The orders were taken from the right of the aircraft to the left. Although I was near the end on the left side, I was still able to get my first choice of entrees.

Departing Vancouver:

We had a short and unexplained push delay of about 10 minutes. We set off for Runway 08R which had us departing Vancouver International in an eastward direction over my home town of Surrey. Were we joined a queue of about 7-9 aircraft waiting to take off. This included a Korean Air Cargo Boeing 777 Freighter.

Our Flight Track from Vancouver to Toronto
Lining Up for Runway 8R
Spotting a Korean Air Cargo Jet
Taking off over Vancouver

Once we were under way, the in flight service started with a towel service.

The meal service started with a beverage service with nuts. I thought that the staff would not be back again for a while, so I filled up with a Tanqueray gin and tonic AND a white wine. I was pleased to report staff was around frequently for drink refills.

A Mixed Nut Service with a Tanqueray Gin and Tonic and a White Wine

The Meal: A Three Course Lunch

After the initial drink and cocktail service, it was time for lunch. The well advertised Air Canada Signature Hawksworth menu items surprisingly absent and missing from the printed menus. Despite this, food that was offered was tasty and pleasant.

The Appetizer plate was served on a full tray. The first course consisted of Ceasar salad, romaine, pancetta, Parmesan pepper crisp, French bread croutons, creamy Ceasar salad dressing (is there any other kind)?

Ceasar salad, romaine, pancetta, Parmesan pepper crisp, French bread croutons, creamy Ceasar salad dressing
A Great Ceasar Salad

The main course was Chicken Piri Piri, smoked paprika, curcuma basmati rice, green beans, carrots, red peppers. The sauce was great and nice to have some spice on the plane where everything usually tastes so bland.

Chicken Piri Piri, smoked paprika, curcuma basmati rice, green beans, carrots, and red peppers

The final course was dessert and a Chocolate chip cookie baked fresh on board, vanilla (gelato) ice cream, and a coffee since we had a long travel journey ahead of us.

Gelato and a Chocolate Chip Cookie

After the food service, the cabin was turned down and I settled into the in flight entertainment system. Throughout the balance of the flight, there were frequent drink refills and I was addressed by name at almost every opportunity. It was a solid effort by Air Canada.

The Air Canada Signature Business Class Cabin

The flight entertainment system is a much stronger version than on their narrowbody aircraft with many more movies available.

MrsWT73 had no issues with the Air Canada Signature Business Class set up by the looks of things. The seat was quite comfortable for relaxing, and did fold to fully flat for sleeping if you were so inclined.

MrsWT73 relaxing her way across Canada

Arriving into Toronto Pearson:

We arrived to Toronto just as the sun was setting for the day. As always, it was an approach over many of Toronto’s freeways.

Winding Down Our Flight into Toronto Pearson
On Final Approach Over Toronto

We landed into Toronto Pearson International Airport arriving to gate D24. We would head over to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto International, prior to connecting onwards later in the evening to our Turkish Airlines Business Class Toronto – Istanbul flight.

My Thoughts on Air Canada Signature Business Class service:

The Air Canada Signature Business Class Boeing 787-900 flight with its reverse herringbone configuration remains THE most comfortable way to skip across Canada. We had great and friendly service from our crew. The food was also reasonably tasty. The only let down in the service was the initial lack of food in the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver. It certainly beats the narrow body recliner seats that most Air Canada flights offer on their Airbus fleet. I can’t wait to fly Air Canada Signature Class again!

If you regularly travel across Canada, do you make an effort to fly in Air Canada Signature Business Class or do you just go for the most conveniently timed flight ?

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