A Positioning Flight to Toronto: Air Canada B777-3, Vancouver – Toronto


The simple goal for today was to get myself to Toronto with all my bags in order to collect my son and start our international adventure to Portugal, the United Kingdom and Ireland. I had purchased this ticket on a separate ticket as a one way. While this isn’t a full review, I thought it would be interesting to share in the experience of summer travel with Air Canada before a longer journey over to Europe.

This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through 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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Read more from this trip:

A Positioning Flight to Toronto: Air Canada B777-300, Vancouver International Airport – Toronto Pearson International Airport Terminal One

In order to start this trip off, I had to travel from Vancouver to Toronto to get onto the main event, a business class flight on TAP Portugal Business Class Toronto – Lisbon.

My arrangements were to collect WT73Jr at the Toronto Pearson International Airport while he was out of town on a separate trip with his mom and his step dad.

I have reviewed Air Canada Business Class Vancouver – Toronto countless times so I won’t get into much detail on how the flight was exactly. However, I thought it would make an interesting post on how this trip started.

Booking the Ticket:

I had purchased an economy “comfort” seat for this flight on one of Air Canada’s random direct targeted “15% off” one day sales. I was able to get into a nice bulkhead aisle in 18H, along with a free drink, 115% mileage earning and priority boarding for about $30 extra; definitely a score. All in, it was about $336 CAD ($255 USD), which is pretty reasonable for this route in the middle of the summer on a weekday Monday morning in a country that has almost no air competition. I credited these flights to Air Canada’s Aeroplan frequent flier program.

Using some e-upgrades courtesy of my Air Canada Prestige 25K status that I had accumulated through work travel, I listed for an e-upgrade at the 4 day window for access to business (or premium economy). At the time of the trip, I hadn’t been flying Air Canada unless I absolutely had to or unless the company is paying for it. As a result, I had no other immediate use for the e-upgrades. The upgrade was processed to the waitlist without any issue. I was debited 8 credits for the upgrade lottery privilege.

On the way home on my last day of work at 12 hrs before the flight, I received the dreaded automated email that my flight was cancelled and that rebooking was in progress. I did a little investigation and through the Air Canada app (which allows you to track the inbound plane), it appeared that the B777 was in Hong Kong. At the time of this flight, protestors had taken over the Hong Kong airport for two days in a row so it seems that the crew likely timed out with the delays resulting in the cancellation of the HKG – YVR flight. With the aircraft stuck in the ground in HKG, my subsequent YVR-YYZ flight on that equipment was also cancelled.

Not knowing whether this was going to be a scramble for best available seats, I got on the phone to the “AC Priority Contacts” where I sat on hold for about 30 minutes. During the call, I was notified by email that I was automatically re-booked onto AC 2066 which was brought in as a replacement B787 to run the flight at the exact same times. I lost my bulkhead and had been automatically re-assigned to 32B, a middle without many exciting prospects.

I logged on and managed to change it to an exit row, settling for 31H. I tried to re-list for an e-upgrade for this particular flight but the reservation was stuck “Not eligible for upgrade” and advised me to check in at the counter. I tried several times through the app and on the internet but was unsuccessful. Of course, there was lots of opportunity to purchase an upgrade to premium economy and business class, which was listed as $278 CAD and $940 CAD accordingly.


Checking Into Air Canada:

On the date of travel, and leaving her for 3 weeks, MrsWT73 was kind enough to be able to give me an early lift to the airport. It was a 5 AM wake up and I got dropped off at 6:30 AM. There were long summer lines this morning as the day started; it had been a while since I’d been over at the domestic side at this early hour. Most of my domestic flights are at the more leisurely and reasonable business traveler hours later in the day.

Over at the Air Canada Priority Check in, I asked about e-upgrades and the agent now quoted me $250 and 11 credits for the privilege. Somehow the computer screwed up my comfort fare and moved me into a flex fare category. I didn’t fancy spending that kind of money for what might be a premium economy experience and figured I would try at the gate. Air Canada’s newer policies have upgrades that fail to clear into Business Class now clear into Premium Economy.

The Air Canada Domestic Priority Check In Counters

I dumped the bags off, hit up the Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Domestic courtesy of Priority Pass, and headed over to the gate. Since I’ve reviewed that lounge before, I won’t get into the details of it here.

Somewhere in the morning while I was at the airport, the flight switched back from a B787 to a B777-3. I tried again for the upgrade at the gate, where the agent quoted me the 11 credits and a $250 upgrade “add on”. I questioned her about it as the online price was 8 credits and she gave me some line that it was to encourage travellers to list early. I explained that I did, but that the AC systems would not carry the list over to the new flight. That explanation didn’t sway her, or she wasn’t able to over ride anything. Ultimately, accordingly to the app, the flight went out with 5 empty seats in business and 8 empty seats in premium economy with no one on the waitlist. It was disappointing on AC’s part that they offer these e-upgrades but then don’t empower you to use them. Okay – rant over. Onto the flight…

It’s frustrating to have e-upgrade instruments available that can’t be used, despite space available

Air Canada
AC 2066 – Economy Class (U)
YVR-YYZ (Vancouver International Airport – Toronto Pearson Terminal 1)
August 13, 2019
8:00 AM – 3:20 PM (scheduled)
8:00 AM – 3:20 (actual)
Booked: Boeing 777-200
Re-Scheduled: Boeing 787-8
Flown: Boeing 777-300

On Board Air Canda’s High Density Boeing 777-300:

I boarded through gate C49, which is one of the domestic wide body gates in Vancouver by apron size. I boarded in Group 2 and found myself at 31H, which was the exit row near the bathrooms on the B777.

It was my first experience on the high density B777-3 with 10 across in the back and it was sure snug in the seat. It was so snug that my thighs regularly clicked against the FA call buttons which were somehow on the sides of the seats as the in arm tables occupied the sides of the arm rest. There is nothing like having your tail feel both sides of the seat. I was really relived to have no one in front of me.

Air Canada’s High Density Boeing 777-300 with 10 across in Economy Class
Spacious Leg Room in the Bulkhead Seats

From the bulkhead seat, the screen came out from the side seat. This further thinned the amount of available seat width for those looking for longer legroom that comes with a bulkhead.

Food and Beverage: Buy on Board

There was buy on board fairly promptly after the first flight. I received my free plastic bottle of white wine “Martinolles Colombard Chardonnair” Grenache Blanc which was dropped off along with a thimble of coffee in a paper cup courtesy of my comfort fare which included a free beverage. I chipped away at the start of this trip report and the Wedding Singer from the free advanced video on demand.Headphones were $3 CAD for purchase, but I had my own from many previous flights.

Almost There…

Arriving into Toronto Pearson:

We had a straight in landing with the usual windy conditions for Toronto. It was into the mess and mass of humanity of Terminal 1. Being summer, everyone was going everywhere.

Toronto Pearson Terminal One Domestic
Toronto Pearson Terminal One Domestic
Toronto Pearson Terminal One Domestic

I headed to baggage claim. Thankfully, all the bags arrived which allowed for a seemless connection to our TAP Portugal flights. I brought an extra suitcase so that WT73jr would have somewhere to place his souvenirs.

Toronto Pearson Terminal One Domestic Baggage Claim

Unusually so, I had to go for a Baggage Cart to carry all these suitcases by myself. Family travels seem to add a lot to the baggage allowance unlike all those “carry on only” business trips to you take on your own.

I had to go for the Baggage Cart to Carry all this By Myself

I built in about 5 hours into my separate tickets to mitigate against delays. To pass the time, I did some plane spotting. There wasn’t much to see other than an Air Canada Boeing 787 and an Etihad Boeing 777.

Air Canada Boeing 787
Etihad Airways Boeing 777

While I waited, I also wandered over to the International Arrivals zone made famous, or infamous, by where Canada’s Foreign Minister Crystal Freeland met the first Syrian refugees fleeing their country after the Arab Spring. The symbolism of this being broadcast across the news and the current governments position on immigration set the tone for Canada’s recent election issues.

Toronto Pearson International Arrivals Hall

At about 5 PM, I met the previous administration in the row A departure zone at Terminal 1 in Toronto. Handover was without drama and short and sweet. WT73jr was in a great mood and super excited for the trip.

We had 4 hours to kill between our flights so we headed over to the Sheraton Gateway Toronto In Tornoto Pearson Airport using the Toronto Pearson airport Airtrain that connects the terminals and the parking area. It was pretty slow service at the Mahogany Bar at the lobby lounge. It was about an hour and a half to get through a Cajun chicken burger with fries and a Bam Bam shrimp bite for WT73jr. We got a little lost on the way back as the zeal from jr sent us in the wrong direction on the train to the opposite end of the train and we ended up at Viscount parking. We were able to get sorted out an onto our TAP Portugal Business Class Toronto – Lisbon flight without issue.

The Bottom Line:

Air Canada has its challenges when it comes to working its way through irregular operations. While they salvaged the flight, unfortunately my E-Upgrades didn’t get salvaged in the same manner and I wasn’t able to use them for this particular flight. While it’s not the end of the world, it’s always a little disappointing when they go to waste. I was able to get to the intended destination in the end which was the most important thing.

If you have experienced irregular operations with Air Canada, did it work out well in the end, or did you come away with a headache ?

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