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Flight Review AC035: Air Canada, 787–9, Business Class Vancouver (YVR) – Brisbane(BNE)

Updated: Sep 3, 2023


 

Airline: Air Canada

Partnership: Star Alliance

Flight: AC035

Duration: 14 hours 40 Mins

Plane: Boeing 787 - 9

Seat: 6A

WiFi: Yes

Inflight Entertainment: High-Definition touchscreen

Inflight Meal: Dinner, Snacks, and light meal

Snacks: Mid-Flight – Wine, beer, spirits, Soft drinks, coffee, tea, chips, granola bars, chocolate bars (Lindt dark and Kit-Kat) and Chicken Pot Pie.

Cost for this ticket: CDN $2688.75 Return (Flex price) + 24 e-upgrade points

Points Earned: 7,350 Aeroplan points

 

Rating: 8.5

Seating Area: 9

Cabin Service: 9

In-Flight Entertainment: 8

Meals and Snacks: 8

 

Introduction


In April 2023, I took my first long haul (14 hours and 40mins) international flight to Australia, from Vancouver to Brisbane, on a 787 - 9 with Air Canada in Business class. The dream liner is one of my favourite wide-body planes, for many reasons, including centrally controlled window dimming systems. The flight staff can dim all the windows to help darken the cabin so passengers can get some sleep.


This was also my first long haul flight of the year. I purchased a Flex fare and then used 24 e-upgrades in order to upgrade to business class. To secure a business class seat immediately upon purchase, I could have bought a Latitude fare, however, the price was about 50% more, so I gambled and went the Flex route. While the Flex fare is a significantly cheaper fare, it does require almost twice as many e-upgrades than a Latitude fare. The gamble with using e-upgrades on a Flex fare is that you have to wait closer to your departure window to confirm the upgrade to business class. In my case, as a Super Elite, my e-upgrade window opened at 14 days before departure. The gamble worked as I got to my seat a week before the flight. My colleague travelling with me also put in for an upgrade to business class, he too is Super Elite, but only got his seat when he got to the gate. I expect the difference is that I hold an Aeroplan co-branded credit card which gave me priority.



 

Check-in and Boarding

I arrived at the airport by 9 pm and my flight was at 11 pm. There was no lineup at the Super Elite check-in. On this trip I was flying through to Christchurch, New Zealand, which I bought on a separate ticket. In the past, I have been able to have my bags tagged through to my final destination. I was advised at check-in desk that this could not be done for me due to some Covid regulations. I was somewhat suspicious of the reasoning but was not about to start an argument as I had a 2-hour layover in Brisbane which would allow me time to pick up and check-in my luggage in Brisbane from my flight to Christchurch. I was actually more concerned that the check-in desk would not allow me the two backpacks: my camera bag and a roll-on bag. This, however, was not an issue. I later learned that my travel colleague had his bags tagged straight through to Christchurch, so the rules seem fluid. Next time I will be more insistent.




 

Seat Area (9/10)

Aircraft interior characteristics

Air Canada Signature Class

Premium Economy

Economy Class

Number of Seats

30

21

247

Configuration

1x2x1

2x3x2

3x3x3

Rows

1 - 8

12 - 14

18 - 46

Seat Pitch

Individual pod

96.5 cm (38 in)

78.7 cm (31 in)

Seat Width

​​53.3 cm (21 in)

49.5 cm (19 in)

43.2 cm (17 in)

Seat Recline

​Fully lie-flat bed

17.8 cm (7 in)

12.7 cm (5 in)

Air Canada currently has 29 787-9s in its fleet, and all have the same layout. Business-class seats (called "Signature Class" on Air Canada) are in a 1-2-1 configuration, with each seat having direct aisle access.


On its 787s, Air Canada uses the Rockwell Collins Super Diamond seat, a solid product. It has a reverse herringbone layout with a seat width of 21 inches (53 centimetres). There are 30 business class seats on the 787-9 (a more extended version than the 787-8), and on this flight, business class was full but for one seat. This one seat was reserved for the flight crew (so I was told). I did not see that it was used; I did get an excellent 8-hour sleep, so maybe it was used then.


I chose seat 6A for its two-window configuration to take some great pictures.


Seat 6A

Heading south

Seat 6A also provided me with sole access to the overhead compartment above my seat. The only real drawback to this location is that it's a further walk to the snacks! I also like this location as there is little traffic, and I have a choice of using the front or back washrooms, so if one is busy, I can use the other one as they are an equal distance from this seat. I do prefer the back bathroom as it is larger in size. You will see a picture comparison later in this review. As mentioned in my review to Seoul (ICN), I caution against picking seats 2D, 2G, 3D, or 3G as those seats do not have overhead storage so you will have to share with the window passengers.



Seat Configuration

Generally, the seat was quite comfortable with all the features you would expect in a business-class seat.


Lots of leg room

As I have mentioned in previous reviews of this type of seat with Air Canada, it has a handy adjustable armrest which can be raised when you want to use it or lowered out of the way when it's not needed (for example, I would recommend lowering it when sleeping as it gives you that much more room). My final comment on these seats is that the "massage" function is more akin to a slight variable pressure adjustment, not a very prominent effect.

As expected in business class, a lie-flat seat, a blanket, pillow, and mattress pad are provided.

The seat has ample counter space, which helps place your belongings as you get settled into your seat. Be careful, however, to take all your belongings with you when you leave as it would be easy to forget your stuff stored in different places. I generally like to keep all my things in one location, so I utilize the cubby hole under the counter, which also stores the remote for the entertainment center.


Counter Space with cubby hole

Part of the counter lifts to reveal the cubby hole storage space I referred to above. Inside the storage bin, you will find a 110V AC power outlet, one USB charging port, and the headphone jack. This is a convenient spot to store and charge your electronics during your flight. You will also find the remote for the in-flight entertainment screen in the storage bin. While the screen is a touch screen, sometimes it's nice to use the remote, particularly when reclined.


Accessory locations

The touchscreen controls for the lighting, service button, and seat controls are on the chair's armrest.



A light on your headrest is helpful if you wish to read a book at night or work on your laptop. I like this light better than the overhead one as I can better adjust the angle of light.


Cabin Services (9/10 Points)


Cabin Staff

Generally, the service was outstanding, and the staff was pleasant enough under the direction of Jerry. He introduced himself at the beginning of the flight, which is always lovely. The little details, like offering to hang up my jacket, are back. The inflight director came by near the end of the flight to check on how I was enjoying the flight and thanked me for my business.


Amenity Kit

Air Canada has changed its amenity kit and it now features Acqua Di Parma. The yellow amenity kits are larger than the previous ones which I appreciate as I am more apt to find a use for them when I get back home.


The amenity kit comes with socks, an eye mask (which is comfortable), ear plugs, hand cream, lip balm and a dental kit (toothbrush, mouthwash, Colgate toothpaste and dental floss). The lack of a glass cleaning cloth was notable as typically it is also included.



Restrooms

The restrooms on the 787-9 are an adequate size with grey decorative wallpaper on one wall displaying tree branches with maple leaves. The restroom in the front does not have a window, however on the right side of the aircraft at the back of the business class that washroom has a window and seems to be more roomy. Both washrooms are stocked with hand cream and hand wash. Both washroom were clean every time I happen to go in. There is also lots of headroom when standing as you can see from the pictures.


Back of the business class washroom

Front washroom
Lots of head room

In-flight Wi-Fi

I used the Wi-Fi just so that I could write this review. I have to say, I was amazed by the speed of the Wi-Fi! It was actually faster than what I expected. In addition, recently (as of May 15, 2023), Air Canada introduced free messaging for all Aeroplan members. Supported apps are (WhatsApp, Viber, iMessenger and Google chat) so you can always stay connected.


The table below shows the Wi-Fi pricing in Canadian dollars. There is also the option of using Aeroplan points to pay for your Wi-Fi.

Package

Duration

Price (CDN$ or Aeroplan Points)

Browser Pass

1 hour

$7 or 700 Points

Full Flight

$11.25 or 1500 points

All Day

$34.95

Ultimate Pass (Includes Streaming)

1 hour

$13.75 or 1400 Points

Full Flight

$24 or 2400 Points

Air Canada Plan

North America

$65.95 / Month

Global

$89.95 / Month


Entertainment (8/10 points)

As I have noted on previous reviews, Air Canada's inflight entertainment system is comprehensive and straightforward to navigate on the 18-inch High-Definition touchscreen. It had a good selection of movies, TV shows, music, and games, more than enough to keep you occupied on a typical long haul international flight.


I noticed an option in the movie section called “Watch with friends.” You can now have a movie night with up to three friends at 35,000 feet.



Air Canada supplies noise-cancelling headphones in business class. The quality is average but not better than my Apple iPod Max headphones which I just bought. I love these headphones. I switched from Bose, which are impressive, but the iPod Max gives you 20 hours of listening time. Also, noise cancelling is better. Don’t worry, Bose, I still have my four other headphones, but that is for another review, maybe.


Air Canada noise cancelling headphones

Meals and Snacks (8/10 points)

This flight included a complete dinner meal with a mid-flight snack and breakfast.


The gravlax salmon appetizer was delicious; I must give it top marks. The hot meal selections consisted of beef tenderloin, braised chicken, roasted cod, or cauliflower steak. As delicious as cauliflower steak sounds, I went with the braised chicken. It was very tasty and the accompanying spicy noodles were not too hot (I am not a big fan of spicy foods). The combination of the noodles, Bok choy and the chicken was delicious. The suggested pairing of the wine (Trius Chardonnay) was well-balanced.


In-flight Snack

Partway through the flight, after the dinner service, an inflight snack was available at the front of the cabin by 2D and 2G. The snack options consisted of Miss Vickie's (Canadian) original flavour chips, a Lindt dark chocolate bar, Made Good Granola bars, shortbread cookies, and Kit-Kat bars. Also the basket of fruit is back which was a welcome addition that Air Canada is once again providing. You can also request Chicken Pot Pie with potato wedges and dark chocolate. I won't pretend to be an expert on what type of chocolate to pair with chicken pot pie, though I think a Kit-Kat bar would be a better choice.



In Flight snacks

Chicken pot pie

Just before landing, breakfast was served with an option of pancakes or omelette . I opted to go for the omelette. However I must say that the cream sauce is not the same as it was pre-pandemic.




Conclusion

Besides the pre-boarding fiasco, the flight itself was smooth and reenforced my love of this aircraft. Seat 6A is the best seat in the house, with two windows to watch the world go by. I enjoyed my flight and wouldn't hesitate to fly this route again in business class with Air Canada.



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