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Flight Review AC063: Air Canada, 787–9, Business Class, Vancouver (YVR) – Seoul (ICN)

Updated: Feb 6, 2023


 

Airline: Air Canada

Flight: AC063

Duration: 11 hours

Plane: Boeing 787-9

Seat: 2A

WiFi: Yes

Inflight Entertainment: High-Definition touch screen

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)

Cost for this ticket : $2,566.56 Return (Flex Fare) + 20 e-upgrade points

 

Rating: 8

Seating Area: 9

Cabin Service: 9

In-Flight Entertainment: 8

Meals and Snacks: 6

 

Introduction


In May 2022, I took my first international flight to Asia for almost 21 months, from Vancouver to Seoul on a Boeing 787-9 with Air Canada in Business class. The dreamliner is one of my favorite wide-body planes. This was also my first long haul flight in about three years. I purchased a economy Flex fare ticket for $2566.56 return and then used 20 e-upgrades. While I could have purchased a Latitude fare ticket and then applied 13 e-upgrades, the cash price was about about 50% more than the Flex fare to secure a business class upgrade, so I gambled and went with the cheaper Flex fare. I have a fair number of e-upgrade credits so I preferred to expend those rather than cash. However, that did mean that my e-upgrade didn't clear for business class at the time of booking. Right up to the morning of the flight, business and premium economy were fully booked, so it was looking like my gamble would not pay off.

 

Check-in and Boarding

While my flight was not scheduled to depart until 13:30, I arrived at the airport as I had to take a Covid test for entry to the Philippines (my final destination). Despite the fact that I was only transiting in Seoul on my way to Manila, I had booked my flights on separate reservations as it was was 25% cheaper to do so rather than having all the flights on one ticket. As a result, I had to request the check-in agent to add my Seoul to Manila flight so that I would show as a transit passenger going through Seoul.


People are certainly heading back to the skies, and the lineups are getting longer. The picture below shows the super-elite and elite lineup at the Air Canada check-in. The shocking part is that they didn't have enough ground crew to facilitate this large number of people for check-in. This is not dissimilar to what Jason experienced at YVR on his recent flight to the US in his review which can be found here. The super elite line was very long as they only had three agents assigned to that line. I had taken my Covid test and was waiting on my result, which came in as I was sitting with the agent as we were clearing me for travel.



When you travel to the Philippines, you need to fill out an online Covid clearance form (One Health Pass). Once the form is completed, you receive a UPC code via email. The desk agent did a manual override to allow me to go through security and get into the Lounge so that I could go online and complete the online form for the Philippines. I actually should have waited until I had everything, including the UPC code from the Philippines form (One Health Pass). The check-in was painless but long; the international security lineup was surprisingly quick even though they only had two sections working. My Nexus card got me to the front of the line, which was nice, but undoubtedly irritating for the others in the queue. To those folks, I say get a nexus card; it's not an easy process but, in all honesty, it's the best 50 bucks I have ever spent when it comes to traveling.


I got to the Lounge and completed the One Health Pass. Upon completion, a UPC code was emailed to me. I was instructed that once I had everything filled out, I simply needed to go to the gate agent to get my final clearance to travel. Easy enough, right? Wrong! When I arrived as the gate, the agent asked me for my proof of travel insurance, which I thought I had purchased with the ticket (additional Covid coverage - $319). As I learned, this apparently only covered the ticket and not the trip... wtf? What a scramble (I lost a few years of my life). I contacted Allianz's insurance broker (at this time the plane had already started boarding). Luckily, it only took 15 minutes and $66 to get the correct insurance (Covid 19 health insurance). I was able to board, and with luck now running my way, I also got my upgrade into business class - my gamble had paid off!

 

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 29 787-9's 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.


Seat Configuration


On its 787s, Air Canada uses the Rockwell Collins Super Diamond seat, which is a seat I am generally quite happy to fly in. It has a reverse herringbone layout with a seat width of 21 inches (53 centimeters). There are 30 business class seats on the 787-9 (which is a more extended version of the 787-8), and on this flight, business class was full.


I was assigned seat 2A, which I gladly accepted given that, initially, I was in economy class. Though not my first choice of location, on the upside, seat 2A has overhead storage, two windows, and is close to the snack tray (Yes, the snack trays are back!). The downside is that the seat is close to the front and has washroom traffic. My preference for a window seat would have been 4A or 4K as these seats are still relatively quiet and peaceful with less traffic (note that 5A and 5K, while in a nice quiet location are window seats with only one rather than two windows - so I would avoid those seats). Speaking to the Inflight Director, Simon, he mentioned that the high mileage fliers seem to choose the seats in the back as they have slightly more room. I would caution against picking seats 2D, 2G, 3D, or 3G as those seats do not have overhead storage, meaning you will be sharing with the window passengers.

Seat 2A, Boeing 787-9

Generally, the seat was quite comfortable with all the features I expect when flying with Air Canada in business class. The seat does have a useful 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, when sleeping). My one comment about these seats is that the "massage" function is really a bit of a misnomer, rather, it's essentially a slight variable pressure adjustment, not a very prominent effect.


When you fly with Air Canada in business class, your are provided with a blanket, pillow, and mattress pad which are sitting on your seat when you arrive.


The seat has ample counter space, which is helpful to place your belongings as you get settled into your seat.


Counter Space

The counter is also where you will find a storage compartment. Within the storage compartment is 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. The storage compartment also houses the remote for the in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen. While the IFE is a touch screen, the remote is handy to control the screen, particularly when reclined.

Accessory locations

To the left of the seat, directly below the storage compartment, is a touch screen from which you can adjust the lighting, call for service, and adjust your seat.

The seat also has a light, to the left of the headrest which is particularly useful for reading at night.


Cabin Services (9/10 Points)


Cabin Staff

I must say, I found the service on this flight to be outstanding. Overall the staff were quite pleasant under the direction of Simon. I have noted in a previous review that Air Canada no longer seems to offer to take coats to store in the closet as I have experienced with past flights pre-pandemic. I continue to miss those little details.


The inflight director, Simon, suggested having the chicken pot pie after I had a conversation with him about how Turkish airlines have a chef on board. I think this was his way of promoting the food options. It was also a nice touch that Simon came by near the end of the flight to check on how I was enjoying the flight.

The cabin was also rather quiet during flight reading only 71 Decibels.




Personal and Protective Kit

Once we sat in our seats, the inflight service personnel handed out a personal protective equipment kit - which is pretty commonplace now on Air Canada flights. As I have mentioned in other reviews, I would have preferred that the kit had been waiting at my seat so I could have wiped down my seat area before getting comfortable.


As well, Air Canada provides a personal amenity kit in business class long haul international flights, as well as slippers.


Personal Protection Kit, Amenity Kit and Slippers

The personal amenity kit included socks, ear plugs, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a dental floss pick, mouthwash, lip balm, hand moisturizer, an eye cover and a glasses cleaning cloth.


Restrooms

The restrooms on the 787-9 are an adequate size with a grey decorative wallpaper on one wall displaying tree branches with maple leaves. The restroom did not have a window, unlike Air Canada's 777 which you can read about here. The restroom is stocked with hand cream and hand wash which are quite nice with a lovely scent. The restroom appeared to be clean mid-way through the flight when I visited.


I did notice on the door that there is still a place to put your cigarette, something I found to be quite strange given that smoking is banned on aircraft. I found it a tad amusing to see a no smoking sign right next to the ashtray. I found this article from Simpleflying.com which explains the reason new aircraft still have ashtrays in the bathroom. It's an interesting read - spoiler alert - it's an FAA requirement.


No Smoking... and an ashtray?

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 in the airport lounge.


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.



Air Canada supplies noise-canceling headphones in business class. The quality is average. I prefer to stick with my Bose headphones.

Meals and Snacks (6/10 points)

This flight included a complete lunch/dinner meal.


The smoked salmon appetizer was delicious. They have changed up the smoked salmon from my last business class flight where it was thin smoked salmon or lox to a filet style. I thoroughly enjoyed it and there was a healthy portion of salmon on the plate. As usual with Air Canada, the bread wasn't warm and the butter was cold and hard making it impossible to spread on the bread evenly. This seems to be a common theme for Air Canada and is one of the little things that keeps me from giving them top marks for meals and snacks. How hard would it be to serve margarine as well which might actually be spreadable. I do like the salt and pepper shakers made of ceramic (I may or may not have a few of them at home).




The hot meat meal choice was either veal, chicken, cod, or cheese tortellini. Some delicious sounding options and I went with the veal; however, upon receiving my meal, I questioned the description on the menu. The menus said braised veal, mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes, and broccoli. The only accurate part of the description was the braised veal. The sauce was garlic-based; the vegetables were cauliflower, diced sweet potatoes, and potato with string beans. Very delicious but not as advertised, hence the harsher mark. I found the meal better than in my previous reviews but, in line with my previous reviews, I still found the meal somewhat salty.


Cheese and Crackers were offered after the main meal and a tasty Caramel brownie. OH!! notice the latte in the picture below, this is a nice and welcome touch.


Shortly before landing we were offered another hot meal and I went with the Chicken tortellini. It was rather bland. Offering some parmesan cheese could have improved the flavour.


In-flight Snack

Part way through the flight, after the dinner/lunch service, an in-flight snack was available at the front of the cabin near seats 2D and 2G. The snack consisted of Miss Vickie's (Canadian) original flavor chips, a Lindt dark chocolate bar, Made good Granola bars, shortbread cookies, and Kit-Kat bars. This is a welcome back service that Air Canada can provide again; however, no fruit is served as in pre-covid times. I guess we are getting there. Also Simon suggested I order the Chicken pot pie which was a nice hot meal snack for mid flight.


Conclusion

Besides the pre-boarding fiasco, the flight itself was very smooth and reinforced my love of this aircraft. Seat 2A turned out to be a good seat and location with two windows to watch the world go by. I enjoyed my flight, and I wouldn't hesitate to fly this route again in business class with Air Canada in the future. However, I wish the insurance mishap was caught at the check-in desk before security. As it turned out, nobody asked about the insurance when I landed in Manila; all they were interested in was the UPC code, Proof of vaccination, Proof of negative test, and my boarding pass. Nonetheless, it appears it is a requirement to board the plane. I gather we are all learning to fly again.


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