Review: Air Canada Signature Business Class – Pandemic Edition B787-9, Toronto – Vancouver
Air Canada offers a variety of business class cabins and aircraft to cross Canada on a trans continental trip. With Toronto being a major business centre for Air Canada, it’s part of Air Canadas’ business strategy to offer a flagship Air Canada Signature Business Class Cabin when departing Canada’s largest city. Air Canada Signature Class offers an end to end experience which offers a fully flat bed in an executive pod. While we’ve taken this trip several times, it would be among our first times travelling this route during the pandemic. What would the service changes be under this new health environment?
This post is one chapter on our trip during the pandemic to Toronto, Ontario, Canada to Buy a Car. This trip was enhanced through Air Canada Aeroplan Elite Status 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.
Read more from this trip:
- Introduction: Travelling 4,300km to Buy a Car
- Air Canada Signature Business Class Pandemic Edition: Vancouver – Toronto
- Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- The Process of Buying an Audi on the Internet, Ontario, Canada
- Plaza Premium Toronto Concept Pop Up Lounge – Terminal 1, Toronto, Canada
- Air Canada Signature Business Class Pandemic Edition: Toronto – Vancouver
- My Experience Shipping a Car Across Canada
Review: Air Canada Signature Business Class – Pandemic Edition B777-300ER, Vancouver International Airport – Toronto Pearson International Airport – Terminal One.
I purchased a regular economy class ticket in the Flex category. I was able to upgrade into the Air Canada Signature Business Class cabin as a result of e-upgrades courtesy of the Air Canada Aeroplan Elite status. For more on the upgrade process, please see the trip introduction.
Getting to Toronto Pearson International Airport:
I checked into this flight on line. After departing the Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel and returning my Hertz Rental Car, I wandered into the terminal and eventually walked down to the Air Canada Business Class Check In Area located at the far end in row one.
Air Canada keeps an exclusive walled check in area near the South end of the Terminal. It’s a great impression and serves a function when the terminal can tend to be crowded and filled with people at peak travel times.
After an initial visit to the temporary Plaza Premium Concept Pop Up Lounge Toronto Terminal One, I wandered upstairs to Level 4 to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Toronto Domestic Lounge. Access to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto Domestic was included on a complimentary basis with my Air Canada Signature Business Class ticket. I’ve reviewed this lounge before so there wasn’t any real need to review it again. Please see our earlier review for details on the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Experience.
After enjoying the lounge, I left the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto Domestic and walked down to Gate D43. The snow was starting to come down. Per the weather forecast, it was expected for Toronto to get 10 – 15 cm of snow accumulation overnight starting at about 4 PM. Since my flight was departing at 7 PM, I was hoping to miss this weather system and not get stuck in Toronto overnight.
The Toronto Pearson International Airport flight board was already showing about 7 domestic cancellations out of about 30 flights that had been listed. Most of them were local prop planes or narrow bodies from eastern Canada and the Eastern United States of America.
Thankfully, there was a plane at the gate when I arrived. Our Boeing 787-9 was parked at the gate awaiting boarding.
Boarding got underway reasonably quickly. The Toronto Concourse doesn’t offer a lot of physical space so it got crowded with Zone 1 very quickly. We had many travellers fighting for left over space at the counter; either from cancelled flights or upgrades. We had single jet bridge boarding today with boarding through Door 1L.
AC 125 – Signature Business Class (R)
YYZ – YVR (Toronto Pearson International Airport – Vancouver International Airport)
February 17, 2022
7:00 PM – 8:58 PM
Booked: Boeing 787-9
Flown: Boeing 787-9
On Board Air Canada Signature Business Class:
Air Canada calls its domestic Business Class “Signature Class” if you are flying in an executive pod. If you happen to find yourself flying transcontinental in a regular business class seat, it’s just called Air Canada Business Class.
Stepping on board Air Canada Signature Business Class, I found my way to my seat 6A. The Air Canada Signature Business Class on the Boeing 787-9 is set up like on the Boeing 777-300 in a 1 – 2 – 1 configuration. My reverse herringbone seat on the aisle faced outwards towards the fuselage.
The seat has several convenient seat storage options, that include space to store and charge a laptop and other devices during flight.
The seats also offer electronic controls for relax, recline and lighting features. The call buttons are also integrated into the handy touch screen, which was easy and intuitive to use.
The seat configuration in Air Canada Signature Class remains among my favourite business class configurations for both working, resting and relaxing. With the counter space surrounding the suite, it’s easy to remain productive while you travel. The suite also offers a small partition which allows a bit of privacy from the aisle.
On the seat a bottle of Naya Water was waiting for me, in addition to an individually wrapped pillow, blanket and mattress pad. There were also a pair of Air Canada noise cancelling headphones.
Pre Departure Services:
There was no offer of a pre departure beverage today. Instead, we had a purser introduction to each passenger with a reminder to relax and enjoy your flight.
Given the bad snowy weather conditions, the captain announced we would head for de-icing with an announcement of “who knows how long that will take…”. It ended up taking about 50 minutes.
We taxied to the runway and were on the runway when an aircraft “got stuck” at the end 1 mile down due to accumulating snow. We had to wait for a tow off.
I was getting pretty worried as the snow was coming in quite considerably at these times and I was hoping we would not time out with the icing melt. We finally got underway at about 80 minutes past schedule with the engines spooling up cutting through the snow.
The Entertainment: Advanced Video on Demand
Air Canada offers an advanced video on demand system. The system offers a touch screen and is easily navigated through either touching the screen or using a wired remote.
Like many other carriers, Air Canada has offered aspiration photographs of the destination that cycle through the monitor.
The entertainment system features several movies consistent with the long haul nature of a Boeing 787-9 being a long distance international carrier. There were approximately 40 movies and about 20 television series available from the entertainment system. The headphones of the noise cancelling variety were provided along with the ability to plug into a triple prong plug.
The entertainment system also provided the flight track map. Today’s planned flight track would have us travelling along the Canada – United States border towards our destination of Vancouver.
The Amenity Kit that was previously presented on this route has gone the way of the do – do bird and was completely absent for this route; a victim of the pandemic. It seemed like this has been cut as a result of cost savings.
The truth be told, I didn’t really miss it. Anything that was essential was provided in the Air Canada Care+ Package provided earlier in the flight.
The Meal: A Full 3 Course Dinner
“served shortly after take off”
Once we were in the air, we had a pre-meal almond and a beverage service. I had red wine of Zuccardi Los Olivos Cabernet Sauvingon, Mendoza, Argentina to go with it. The wine were not of super high end quality, but otherwise a little under reasonable. While the nuts were previously served in a cocktail dish, they were presented within the package for the passenger to open on their own.
I tucked into the James Bond movie “No Time to Die” in order to pass the time.
While service had gotten underway, the menu’s had been distributed. The Air Canada Signature Class printed menu is a nice feature that you don’t always get on a long haul trans-continental flight in North America.
An Air Canada Signature Class Wine List was also provided. I don’t find the wines on Air Canada to be all to exciting, but there is more than enough there between the wines and the hard spirits to keep you engaged with something on the list that is to your liking.
The first courses included a tasty and upscale smoked salmon, hard boiled egg, capers, guacamole cream, honey mustard vinaigrette and mixed greens that was featured as a John Park signature dish. The dish was more exotic than I was expecting for Air Canada. The smoked salmon set the tone for a nice meal.
The main course was veal osso buco, asparagus risotto and gremolata. It was again a tasty dish, although not to heavy on the flavour. It was nice to have something different tasting on a plane than the usual chicken, beef or vegetarian options.
Despite the wonderful taste, the appearance of it wasn’t too appealing. Upon looking at the photograph, MrsWT73 stated that it looked like someone had thrown up on the plate; yikes… Take that Gordon Ramsey.
The dessert was a choice between a Nanaimo Bar “John Park Signature Dish”, a cheese plate or a fruit plate. I ended up with the Nanaimo Bar. Although it was a John Ark Signature Dish, it didn’t taste all that different than a regular Nanaimo Bar.
After dinner, we were just passing Fort Frances and only about 1/3 of the way in our flight. Our one hour and twenty minute delay was posting as a 40 minute delayed arrival time in Vancouver per the flight map.
I watched the balance of the No Time to Die movie, which was long enough at 2 hrs 36 minutes running time to keep you entertained on what was supposed to be a 5 hour and two minute flight.
In terms of service adjustments as result of the pandemic, the flight crews pretty much disappeared for the flight. The usual offers of regular water or beverage refills that were around pre-pandemic were pretty much gone.
I took a nap as a result. The Air Canada Signature Class Executive Pod was reasonably wide, and the fully flat sleep allowed me to get a reasonable rest as a result of a quick turn around trip. Although the Boeing 787-9 is still noisy, it wasn’t a truly quiet rest and it was more of a light nap given the short distance of the flight.
The Second Service:
The second service consisted of a similar wrapped plastic bag containing a bag of chips and a chocolate bar. Since it wasn’t too engaging, I ended up passing on the extra calories.
Landing in Vancouver:
After departing all the bad Toronto weather, we landed into Vancouver. We pulled up to gate D52, about sixty minutes behind schedule.
With one hour and twenty minute delay departing Toronto, we made up approximately twenty minutes of this time. Our Air Canada Boeing 787-9 was continuing onto New Delhi after our flight, a long 14 hour proposition.
My Thoughts on Air Canada Signature Class:
In a world where most of the trans-continental flights are on less exciting narrow body jets, the ability to easily fly on a wide body aircraft Boeing 787-9 that happens to be well aligned with your schedule is an asset to air Canada. The Air Canada Boeing 787-9 is my favourite Air Canada flight experience, thanks to it’s smaller capacity, it’s improved air quality and an overall newer flight experience. Air Canada Signature Class remains the most comfortable way to cross Canada.