I had never tried Air Canada business class before, so on the return leg of my trip to Asuncion, Paraguay, I opted for a different route to the one I took on the way in. Leaving Asuncion with GOL to Sao Paulo before connecting to this flight to Montreal and a final connection to New York.
I must say I was very pleasantly surprised. The experience was shockingly good. Seriously, I left this flight wanting to fly Air Canada again quickly! It was a fantastic flight and nearly perfect. I thought it might be a fluke, but I found the same thing on my second flight onwards to New York from Montreal.
Despite the higher cost, this fantastic experience left me wanting to fly Air Canada time and time again on this route. In fact, taking this flight made me very happy that I had already booked a flight later this year from New York to Montreal to Casablanca with Air Canada, and on to Istanbul with Royal Air Maroc.
Booking An Air Canada Business Class Ticket
I booked this itinerary using Aeroplan points, and while initially it was very well priced, I had to cancel and rebook to a later date, which became much more expensive. My route from Asuncion to New York involved two airlines and three flights.
- GOL from Asuncion to Sao Paulo in Premium Economy.
- Sao Paulo to Montreal with Air Canada in Business Class.
- Montreal to LaGuardia, New York, with Air Canada Business Class.
The first time I booked this itinerary, it set me back 52,500 points plus taxes and fees. However, after needing to change my date slightly, I canceled and rebooked. The new booking set me back a much dearer 92,300 points plus C$145/$110 in taxes and fees.
The booking was simple enough and followed the typical process on the Aeroplan site. I somehow neglected to select my seats on the Air Canada legs of my site, but I got lucky (more about that later). For the GOL flight, I was unable to check in or select seats in advance.
The Ground Experience
This time around, I was transiting Sao Paulo. I arrived in terminal 2 off my GOL flight from Asuncion. While the transit process was straightforward, where my passport and ticket were checked, I made my way through security.
The walk between the terminals was massive and took a whopping 15 minutes. To make matters even less exciting, there was nothing to see on the walk. There were no shops or other items of interest; it was like walking through a sterile military base in a Sci-Fi movie.
In retrospect, if I ever have a long layover in Sao Paulo again, I would exit the airport and take part of the city or find somewhere nearby to work. That said, if you were in Sao Paulo already and leaving from Terminal 3, I am sure the experience would have been more fun. After checking out my various lounge options, I finally settled on the Espaco Banco Safra Lounge.
The Espaco Banco Safra Lounge and Boarding
The Espaco Banco Safra Lounge is one of the better lounges in South America. However, it is not ideal by any stretch of the imagination and is not the best choice if you have a long stopover in Sao Paulo.
That said, it is still an excellent facility with delicious food and shower rooms that I have reviewed. And if I have a short transit in Sao Paulo, I would not hesitate to revisit it in a heartbeat.
Boarding was an interesting experience; I set off from the lounge at around 7:48 p.m. As I was just leaving packing my laptop, an announcement was made that both the Air Canada Toronto and Montreal flights were about to board.
I was stunned to see a massive swarm of people rise and make their way towards the gates for both Air Canada flights. It felt like the entire plane was in the lounge. Walking and Sao Paulo airport go hand in hand, and it was another 15-minute walk from the massive terminal to the gate. Once there, it was clear the flight was packed, with very few seats to spare.
Although I had checked in for this flight in Asuncion, I was checked in once again at the gate. I was given two new boarding passes; however, I noted the agent made a point of scribbling across my old ones, which was interesting.
Boarding was chaotic due to the number of people trying to get on the plane. It began with passengers with young children and the elderly, followed by business class travelers. After a long queue to get on the plane, I was greeted at the door, turned left into the business class cabin, and realized my mistake!
Somehow, I had ended up with a 6G aisle, not a window seat. So I asked the flight attendant if I could change my seat to 6K, which still wasn’t taken. They said they would see what they could do, and amazingly, the gentleman in that seat volunteered it to me once he arrived! I was so grateful, and he was so gracious. If you are reading this, thank you, sir!
Air Canada Business Class Cabin and Seats
The Air Canada business class cabin is stunning. It is beautifully prepared, with meticulous attention to detail. The beautiful cabin tones feature classy black, red, grey, and warm wood tones.
The cabin has a very open and spacious feel and features a beautiful Air Canada logo to the rear. While it also featured excellent soft lighting colors.
The cabin seating is configured in a Saffron herringbone configuration, which is common on many airlines. This seating type is also used on Air France and KLM, among many other airlines. Above the middle seating, there are central baggage bins that run the length of the cabin.
The configuration is well thought out, and the Seats are staggered between the aisle and window seats. This gives even more privacy as you cannot peer past the aisle divider looking both ways.
Air Canada Business Class Bathrooms
The Air Canada Business Class cabin features two bathrooms—one at the front and one in the middle of the cabin.
There is only one bathroom at the front of the cabin. This one was very basic and simple, very much function over form.
Each bathroom featured an Air Canada motif and some nice lighting. The bathroom was basic, with a soap dispenser, and the restrooms had only a fold down tray table, and no special amenities. However, there were some flowers on the wall.
Two bathrooms are in the middle of the business-class cabin, and they are far nicer than the one at the front. They are remarkable, extremely spacious, and feature a window. The bathroom also features the fold-down table, making baby changing more straightforward.
My only issue with these bathrooms is that they are very simple and poorly stocked. You get some flowers on the wall. And a basic soap dispenser, and that is it! It would also have been nice to see a few other amenities here. On the plus side, they do have some nice lighting!
Seat 6K is excellent, especially if you like looking out of the window as I do. It has two windows in perfect alignment for views outside and clears the engines nicely. If you enjoy looking out the window during flights, seat 6 or those in rows 3 or 4 would also be perfect.
The foot well is spacious, with plenty of space for your feet and another storage cubby below for your shoes. Below the seat is more storage to the left and right and a special footwell light to see in the dark when retrieving your items.
An armrest can be raised or lowered on the aisle side of the seat, depending on how you want it. The seat also came with a pillow wrapped in plastic and a mattress pad for the seat. While to the right-hand side, there is a reading light that you can push to tilt for the perfect angle.
Lots of storage space
The work surface with this seat is enormous. To the front, there is a folding table. A lever below releases it; you can have it in 3 positions and fold it open to become larger. I found it provided a vast working surface and was super stable and strong.
In fact, between the table and the side surface, I could eat and have a laptop plus a side display set up. Having that much work surface space on a business-class flight was exceptional.
In terms of storage and space, the seat is abundant. First to the right by the window, a vast surface is ideal when working. Here, you can find a storage cubby with a power socket, USB, and a headphones port. The space is perfect for storing cables and charging your phone if needed.
The seat has a massive 16-18” TV in front, and while this is fixed, it can tilt a little for better viewing angles.
Overall, the seat was a brilliant experience, and choosing a seat on the right-hand side of the plane if you are right-handed is perfect. I loved the configuration and found it exceptionally useful.
My initial seat is an aisle seat. It is the mirror image of the 6K seat. The only difference is that you have a center divider that can be lowered or raised instead of a window.
I prefer a window seat and looking outside. On this flight, I enjoyed watching the sunrise during the breakfast services as we rolled over a thunderstorm.
Air Canada Business Class Seat Controls
The seat comes with what I can only describe as advanced seat controls, offering you plenty of customization options. They are found right below the interior tray panel, to the side of the seat. The controls are a digital touch screen and are the same interface as Oman Air. Seat control functions include:
- Window darkness
- Light in the footwell
- Overhead light
- Headrest massage (can also move up or down).
- Lumbar massage (can also move up or down).
- Lumbar firmness.
- Massage functions.
- Can easily switch to Sit, Relax, and Rest modes.
- Can also individually adjust any seat position.
- Seems to be all tied together.
- Do Not Disturb
- Wake Me for Service
- Call Attendant
Also, Lie Flat, Takeoff, and Landing Buttons are on the side of the seat. These are non-touch screen.
The Air Canada Business Class Amenity Kit
The Air Canada Business Class Amenity kit is from Acqua Di Parma and comes in a yellow color scheme. The beautiful case is made from a thick and durable fabric material. It is made exclusively for Air Canada, and I found its contents comprehensive and very useful. Most items came jet black and were difficult to photograph.
Amenity Kit Contents:
- Eye Mask – oversized and extra large. Very comfortable.
- Socks – black, very large.
- Glass cleaner – how useful!!
- Dental Kit with Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Hand cream and Lip Balm (boxed)
I also received Air Canada-branded noise-cancelling headphones with two plugs. These came in plastic wrappers. These were collected before landing.
Unfortunately, I cannot vouch for their quality or effectiveness since I did not try them. They were all collected in a large red bag 30 minutes before arrival for servicing.
Air Canada Business Class Inflight Entertainment & Wi-Fi
Without a doubt, Air Canada Business Class has one of the best In-Flight Entertainment systems I have ever seen. The large screens have a vast array of options to choose from, and you can control it from the remote in your seat or via the touch screen.
The unit is very customizable with several unique functions, including:
- A do-not-disturb feature.
- Night mode: This takes away the blue light in the screen, making it much easier to read.
Another of the more fun functions of the IFE is that you can use it to control the tint in your window and its brightness – this is a 787, after all!
You can also keep tabs on your flight connections. I could easily add my connection, and the IFE showed the time, flight number, and the gate for my connection.
Nowadays, all long-haul flights should have reasonably priced or free Wi-Fi, and Air Canada delivered on that front. Shortly after taking off, the existence of the Wi-fi was announced. In addition, the TV screen also displays when Wi-Fi is available and when it is not available.
Sadly, the Wi-Fi is not free even for premium cabin passengers; however, it was very reasonably priced as follows:
- C$21.95 for an entire flight of basic streaming.
- C$29.00 for advanced premium streaming for the entire flight.
- You can also purchase one hour of the above packages for $10.25 or 1050 points or $13.75 or $1,400 points, respectively.
In addition to the Wi-Fi, texting was allowed, and Air Canada members could text for free. Unfortunately, I was not able to do the full-flight Wi-Fi work. Every time I tried, I would get stuck on the registration page.
After getting frustrated, I gave up and eventually did the one hour of Wi-Fi closer to landing. However, once I connected to that, everything worked very smoothly.
Pre-departure champagne was offered, and the purser also came by to take our orders before we even left the gate. This likely allowed them additional time to prepare the food. This was not just the main meal order but included dinner and breakfast.
I was told breakfast would be served at 4:30 a.m., and asked if that was alright, and I said yes. I was also asked about my drink choices and wine as well.
Post Departure service
Shortly after take-off, the service began. The first flight attendant walked around serving hot towels. These were piping hot and individually given from a hand cart — some of the most sizzling towels I’ve had and smelled good.
Shortly after, the towels were collected, and the flight attendant came down the aisles to take drinks orders and deliveries. A warm cup of nuts was also offered, and I found the nuts were warm, which was awesome.
I was also asked which wine I would prefer. I asked for a recommendation on red wines. She mentioned that the Spanish wine was not as popular as the Italian wine. I decided to go with the Spanish wine, but to my great surprise, she took out two cups and poured a little sampler of each. To my second surprise, I liked the Italian wine selection more.
So far, I can say that the service was spectacular and what you would expect from a top-notch carrier.
Air Canada Business Class Meal Service
About 40 minutes after take-off, the main meal service began. The meal was served one course at a time from a cart. Coffee was also brought out with my meal. It was hot and not too strong.
I should also note here just how much surface area this seat design offers – I was able to have my dinner fully out, while simultaneously having out a laptop with keyboard, and a second screen, and a mouse.
The food was good and tasty, and I found the presentation excellent. The service was speedy and efficient. And the attendees worked very hard to make it a fantastic experience. I counted six different rounds where the FAs brought items for service (maybe it was seven?) Far more than on most airlines. The meal service included the following:
- Small Appetizer Course: Smoked salmon, wild rice salad, asparagus, pickled carrots.
- Salmon, Carrots, and Lemon. Includes
- Seasonal green salad – was incredibly fresh! With carrots. Came with olive oil. Delicious.
- Bread Selection:
- White breadGarlic bread – I chose this and thought it was slightly bland in taste, but the bread was fresh, which is most important.
- A second round of bread was also quickly brought out within five minutes.
- Main Course Items: Salmon dish was unavailable when my order was taken. Beef Tenderloin, red wine demi-glaze sauce, roasted pumpkin puree, red pepper, and beans.
- Beef tenderloin – cooked well done. I enjoyed the Red Wine demi-glaze sauce; it was tasty but not overpowering. I did not taste any salt, which is most important. Very fresh.
- Served with asparagus, which was fresh and tasted great!
- Dessert: chose various fruits, which were served in a medium-sized bowl.
- These were brought out in another service tray and given promptly.
- Had five different pieces of fruit. Including melon, strawberry, cantaloupe, and watermelon.
Mid Flight Snacks
Throughout the flight, there were plenty of snacks available. Packaged snacks are available in the galley. While many snacks were positioned at the front of the cabin in a tray. Snacks included:
- Biscoff cookies
- MadeGood Granola Bar
- Roasted Almonds
- Miss Vickie’s original potato chips
- Popcorn chips
- Haribo Gummy Bears
Air Canada Business Class Sleep mode
After dinner, it was time to catch up on some sleep, so I requested a turn-down service. The flight attendant wasn’t sure what it was, which was funny, so I asked her to make the bed for me.
The seat has a thin mattress pad, a thick comforter, and a puffy pillow. It also has more than enough space for sleep mode, with plenty of room to get comfortable in
This was one of my minor issues with the flight, and my one comment to Air Canada is that the bedding quality should be improved substantially. I didn’t feel like the mattress pad or comforter was thick enough. Also, the seat was showing some age and wasn’t entirely smooth.
Air Canada Business Class Breakfast Service
I woke up at 4:20 a.m. with an announcement that the breakfast service would begin soon. This was approximately 1h20m before landing.
For breakfast, I was offered the choice of an omelet or a pancake plate. I chose the pancakes. This came covered in foil, which was removed before serving. The Blueberry pancakes, with caramel sauce and chantilly cream, were delicious.
The Caramel sauce sprinkled around the sides made the pancakes less dry and more moist, which was absolutely needed. However, I found it could have done with more sauce.
The pancakes were followed by a fruit plate with mango, pineapple, peach, and grapes. Again, this was very fresh and delicious.
Finally, the breakfast menu had a Bircher muesli with coconut and berries, which was rich and creamy. I loved the texture; it was a bit tart and super tasty!
There was also a croissant, jam, and butter. The croissant would have been better fresh; it was stale and wrapped in plastic.
I also had two coffees and an apple juice, although I could have chosen orange or cranberry.
Arrival at Montreal
With 45 minutes to go, the pilot announced we were beginning our descent into Montreal. Then, landing preparation began with 30 minutes to go. The flight attendants came around with a tray and collected all the headsets. They also inquired if everything at the seat was working and if nothing was broken.
Before long, we were on the ground in Montreal, and after deplaning, I began my long walk to the transfer zone. The walk is elevated above the airport and takes about 15 minutes.
Arriving at the main junction for immigration, there was one lane for US-bound traffic. Unfortunately, I discovered that the Security and Border Crossing does not open until 7:00 a.m., so we needed to wait. I waited 30 minutes for this lane to open, but once it did, I was through and heading for my connection to LaGuardia.
There is very little negative I could say about the whole experience. The soft and hard products far exceeded my expectations. The food and service were outstanding, not to mention the amazingly friendly and professional crew. In fact, the level of service is the kind you would typically associate with Singapore Airlines and such.
But that was not all! The IFE system was brilliant, and the seat in sleeping mode is outstanding. My only minor gripe is that the seat could do with a little more upscale, softer bedding in sleep mode. The padding provided was weak, and the blanket was thin and too light.
Compared to the other options for traveling between North and South America, Air Canada seems to be head and shoulders above the competition so far. Despite the slightly costlier price in miles or cash, it is still worth it compared to others!
- Excellent crew! Just wow! I was not expecting it. The friendliness, approachability, and service are top-notch and one of the best I’ve experienced.
- The crew even asked a gentleman across from me if he’d be interested in switching seats with me; I was surprised to learn that he agreed,
- Excellent service as well. Everything was well thought out to provide the best possible service.
- Very prompt, fast, and efficient service. I think it was even better than some Japanese carriers.
- The seat is excellent for working and multi-tasking. I could simultaneously eat and fit my computer and second screen on the side. Perfect and very convenient design.
- Incredible food, absolutely delicious! Both rounds.
- Slept very comfortably.
- One of the best IFE and Seat Control systems I’ve witnessed. It’s just super sophisticated and advanced.
- Lots of storage space.
- Great windows, lighting, and modern cabin feel.
- Clean aircraft.
- Wi-Fi connectivity was not easy to use. This was a registration problem.
- I think Air Canada should invest in better bedding. I slept comfortably, but the mattress pad was skinny, and the comforter felt light.