Review: Air Canada Business Class B737 – MAX 8, Vancouver – Phoenix
As Air Canada receives more deliveries of their newest narrow body aircraft, the Boeing 737 Max 8, we are starting to see more frequencies using this particular aircraft type on its short haul routes. With a change in aircraft, we were keen to continue to test out it’s Business Class offering. How did the aircraft stand up on our transborder flight between cities on North America’s Western Coast?
This post is one chapter on my brief trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, United States of America. This trip was enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and Air Canada’s Aeroplan. 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.
If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.
✈️ Read more from this trip:
- Introduction: A Mileage Run to Scottsdale via Air Canada Business Class
- Plaza Premium Lounge – Vancouver Transborder
- Air Canada Business Class: Vancouver – Phoenix
- My Experience Renting as a Hertz President’s Circle Member at Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport
- The JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa, Arizona, USA
- The American Express Escape Lounge – A Centurion Studio Partner, Phoenix, USA
Review: Air Canada Business Class B737 – Max 8, Vancouver International Airport – Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport
As the year drew to a close, I found myself short a few Air Canada Aeroplan Status Miles in order to re-qualify for the next calendar year. I had initially planned the year out to balance with the magical number of miles, but when I had challenges getting my last Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul – Paris flight credited to Air Canada, decided I’d better book something as a back up just in case.
In this case, since I only needed about 525 status miles, I didn’t have any particular destination in mind. I used Google Flights to explore the options and came up with cheap departures from my home base of Vancouver to Calgary, Edmonton (not so exciting in the winter) or Palm Springs and Phoenix.
All of these offered the amount of miles that I’d need and had low weekend fares that I’d need so I would haven’t take any time off of work. Since I had never really explored Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, I opted for Phoenix Arizona and a visit to the legendary JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort and Spa.
Cyber Monday came around and I was able to further capitalize on the first thousand tickets being sold with a thirty percent off promotional code. I was able to book the fare from Vancouver – Phoenix into a Comfort Fare bucket for $120.40 CAD ($90 USD) in base fare. With all taxes and fees, the return ticket came out to $381.13 CAD ($285 USD).
Checking into Air Canada Business Class:
When it came time to check in, Air Canada was offering a Last Minute Upgrade from economy to Business Class. It was priced at $256.20 CAD ($190 USD), or $85.40 ($64 USD) an hour on a three hour flight. Despite not getting the full business class mileage that would normally come from a business class ticket, I thought this was a reasonable deal and opted to upgrade.
The Air Canada Last Minute Upgrade Offer for my return flight was $950 CAD ($710 USD), so the outbound flight was a substantially better deal.
Although I had checked in on line, I took a wheel past the Air Canada Priority Check In Counters at Vancouver International Airport. Air Canada has set up a Priority Check In area across from the regular Vancouver International Airport Transborder check in zone.
The Vancouver International Airport operates a US Customs Pre-Clearance facility, this check in process can tend to be a bit bottled necked at peak morning travel times. As a result, this spacious area is a great upscale touch for those looking for a little extra space.
I passed through the CATSA Security Screening Checkpoint using Nexus front of line service. Despite this being a Saturday morning, there were almost seventy five people in the Nexus line and likely well over three hundred travellers in the general security line.
I used Global Entry to enter the United States with an unusual thirty travelers in line waiting to see two Customs and Border protection officers that were processing Global Entry Travelers today.
I visited both the newly renovated Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver Transborder and the included with my ticket Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver Transborder. Since I had previously reviewed the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver Transborder, I won’t do so again since there haven’t been many material changes between last visit.
I ended up boarding down by Gate E. As an Air Canada Business Class traveller, I was given Zone 1 Boarding and was among the first on the aircraft.
YVR – PHX (Vancouver International Airport – Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport)
AC 1054 – Business Class (R)
9:30 AM – 1:31PM
Dec 10, 2022
Booked: Boeing 737 Max 8
Flown: Boeing 737 Max 8
On Board Air Canada Business Class on the Boeing 737 Max 8:
Historically, Air Canada has operated an Airbus fleet domestically within Canada, with sporadic forays into the Embraer executive jet market. Air Canada made the decision to enter the Boeing 737 Max aircraft market as the Airbus series aircraft get older and are getting closer to retirement. Unfortunately, the synchronicity of computer system issues and a global health epidemic hampered the development and adoption of this equipment type.
Four rows of business class in a 2 – 2 configuration make up Air Canada Business Class on the Boeing 737 Max 8. As opposed to the glacial blue that existed in its previous generation on the Airbus Series, Air Canada has chosen a darker shade for its seats. The new style is significantly more modern and elegantly understated.
The Air Canada Business Class seats on a Boeing 737 Max are the newer slim line generation of seats. They offer a little more room, although you’ll never mistake them for a pod styled seat with a fully flat bed. Air Canada has clearly gone for a higher density cabin. While you won’t notice much of a difference on a shorter three hour flight like this one, you’ll probably start to notice it around the five hour mark if you were travelling to Hawaii from North America.
As in the past, I’m happy to report on the Air Canada Boeing 737 Max seats are actually more comfortable than their older Air Canada Airbus Series Business Class barcalounger style counterpart. I also found them more comfortable than the comparable puffy seat found in the Alaska Airlines First Class product.
I was seated in 3F today, a window seat on the right hand side of the aircraft. I was travelling with carry on luggage only, and had no issues stowing my luggage vertically in the overhead bins.
The Air Canada Business Class Boeing 737Max seat offers a little foot rest. Although the foot rest is a lot sturdier than versions that I have seen on the Airbus series of aircraft, it’s of limited use from a comfort perspective for a tall person like me.
The Air Canada Advanced Video on Demand Entertainment system showed photographs of the flight’s destination. In this case, we had photographs of Phoenix, ranging from palm trees to skyline photographs of downtown. I can’t compliment airlines enough for doing something as simple as this. It really increases the aspirational mood for travel, and reminds travellers of what they have to look forward to in a favourable manner.
The seat featured Empower charging based on a North American plug, and also offered a laptop storage contained underneath the centre arm rest.
The Seat Featured a recline option and a foot rest option. These features were accessed through level buttons on the wall of the seat itself.
There is also a seat extender for reclining comfort. You won’t mistake this for a fully flat seat, but it might make relaxing a little more comfortable.
The Boeing 737 Max featured individual air nozzles above the travellers seat. This is something that I always appreciate, since you’re able to control your own air flow, and make your flight just that more comfortable.
Pre Departure Services:
We had a pretty tame pre-departure beverage service. While it’s usual that you get an offer of water of juice from a tray on other carriers, or perhaps an open bar beverage in the United States, today’s pre-departure services consisted solely of a bottle of Eska water waiting on the seat for me.
Perhaps this was a result of service delivery being slow to resume after the pandemic, but the pre-departure beverages were economized out of the system.
The flight attendants stopped by and dropped off a printed menu for the breakfast service that would occur on this flight.
There was also a beverage list provided which contained some pretty straight forward mid level spirits. Air Canada has joined others around North America by not offering an actual list of wines available on it’s printed menus.
It’s a really nice touch that Air Canada still offers a printed menu in Air Canada Business Class. It’s nice to be able to see what you can expect from your in flight dining experience.
Departing Vancouver International Airport:
We departed Vancouver International Airport under grey December skies. It was training throughout the morning, and I’d be happy to be landing in Phoenix later that day under bright sunny blue skies.
It was a quick climb and we were up to altitude pretty quickly as we departed the mountains and islands of the Pacific Northwest. The engines on the Boeing 737Max are substantially quieter than those on the older Airbus series aircraft, and it is a much more peaceful climb to altitude.
The flight tracker provided a multitude of views of our aircraft and position as we navigated out of the Vancouver International Airport airspace. While it didn’t show. the exact projected flight path, there was enough information there to identify your journey.
We had a towel service once we reached cruising altitude. The towels weren’t super elegant, and the condition of the towels seemed to be pretty beat up. It was a nice feature anyway, and consistent with what you’d expect on a medium haul business class.
In Flight Entertainment:
Air Canada offers a modernized in flight entertainment system. The system has been modernized and features an easier user interface compared the last Enroute product found on the Air Canada Airbus Series. Unlike many of the American carriers, Air Canada offers a monitor at every seat on the aircraft, so there is no need to use your own device for entertainment, unless you want to watch your own content.
The Meal: Breakfast
We had a three hour flight time travelling down from Vancouver to Phoenix. With our flight departing at 9:30 AM, breakfast was the meal being presented.
On today’s flight, we had the choice of a parsley omelette, chicken sausage, roasted potatoes with red pepper relish, or pancakes with maple butter compote. Both of these breakfast menu items haven’t really changed much in the last twenty years of flying Air Canada Business or Executive Class as it was known back then.
Breakfast was presented all at one, with a warmed cibatta roll presented after the main course.
The breakfast was more than enough for a three hour flight. Although, Air Canada loses a few marks here for originality.
After breakfast service was completed, the cabin was cleared. I was offered a drink and a warmed nut service for the balance of the flight. The wines on offer were a Canadian Niagra Region white or a French Chablis.
The service on board was the usual Air Canada politeness; pleasant but not super interactive. Staff were available for drink refills, although I didn’t partake in many as I was driving on landing in Phoenix.
Landing at Phoenix Sky Harbour International:
Before I knew it, we were descending into the Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport. The Southern States of Arizona is a very pretty place to land into, and I had forgotten that the desert mountains were so interesting.
I was even able to see some of Lake Pleasant Regional Park while we lined up for our landing runway.
We arrived to Gate E8 in Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport under bright sunny skies. Being up front, it was a very quick deplane and I was in the terminal really quickly.
I headed onto pick up a Hertz Rental Car at Phoenix Rental Car Centre, which was quite an experience, and headed onto the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Resort & Spa for a terrific overnight stay.
The Bottom Line: Air Canada Business Class B737 Max 8
The Air Canada Business Class on the Boeing 737 Max 8 represents Air Canada’s business class of the future. It is a substantial improvement on the old Air Canada Business Class Seat with more comfortable seating, along with a more functional space for working or relaxing. The Air Canada breakfast omelette meal made a familiar re-appearance, but other wise everything was great. Given that the last minute upgrade was so cheap, it was an easy decision to upgrade your travels.