Flight Review: Air Canada, 787-8, Business Class, Dublin (DUB) - Vancouver (YVR)
Airline: Air Canada
Date: August 2022
Duration: 9 hours
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
Seat: 2D - Business Class
Wi-Fi: Yes (technically - but I was unable to connect)
Inflight Entertainment: 18 inch touch screen (with remote)
Inflight Meal: Dinner, light second meal
Snacks: Mid-Flight – chips, chocolate bars, beverages
Cost for this ticket : 52,833 Aeroplan points + $87 + 11 e-upgrades
Seating Area: 8
Cabin Service: 8
In-Flight Entertainment: 9
Meals and Snacks: 8
This is a review of my flight from Dublin to Vancouver aboard Air Canada's Boeing 787-8. Air Canada has eight of these aircrafts in its fleet. Ladi previously provided an in-depth review of flying on Air Canada's 787-8 in business class earlier this year, so I won't be repeating the same details about the aircraft. Instead, I will primarily focus on my experience with this particular flight. You can find Ladi's earlier review of Air Canada's 787-8 here.
Booking the Flight
This flight was my return flight from a European vacation I took over the summer with my wife and kids. Initially I had two separate flights booked with two people booked on each flight since I couldn't find space in business class for all four of us on one flight on the desired date. As a result, the original plan was for my wife and one of my kids to take this direct flight from Dublin to Vancouver. Their tickets cost 62,817 points each for business class seats. Meanwhile, myself and my other son were going to leave a few hours earlier and fly Dublin to Frankfurt on Lufthansa and connect to a direct Air Canada flight from Frankfurt to Vancouver where we would arrive in Vancouver close to the same time as my wife and my other son. That flight cost 54,119 points + $87 for Economy Class Latitude Fare tickets which I could instantly upgrade to business class seats for 11 e-upgrades per ticket.
After making the initial booking connecting through Frankfurt, I kept any eye on this flight to see if seats opened up on the direct flight from Dublin to Vancouver. A few months later space did open up. Since my flight connecting through Frankfurt was a Latitude fare, I could cancel that flight with no penalty and obtain my points and e-upgrades back instantly. I then purchased Latitude fare economy class tickets on this flight from Dublin to Vancouver for 52,833 points each and used 11 e-upgrades on each ticket to instantly upgrade to business class seats. Voila, four of us all together in business class on the same direct flight, and, better yet, these seats were slightly cheaper than the connecting flight through Frankfurt so I also received a refund of 1,286 Aeroplan points for each of the two booked tickets when I cancelled the flight connecting through Frankfurt.
While it's not particularly easy to find four seats in a business class cabin at a reasonable cost in points, it is worthwhile to always keep a close eye on availability so you are ready to jump should any seats open up. In this case, having booked a Latitude fare and the flexibility of using e-upgrades to upgrade to business class was a real advantage.
Check-In and Boarding
Prior to check-in, we had to complete the ArriveCan app. As we were travelling only with carry-on luggage, we simply checked in on the Air Canada app. Other than the time it takes to upload the COVID vaccine documents for both the ArriveCan app and the Air Canada check-in app, it was an easy enough process. I have to think at some point Canada is going to drop the requirement to upload proof of vaccine. During our travels to Ireland, the U.K, France and Italy, we did not have to show any proof of vaccine.
Our flight out of Dublin was a morning flight. The Dublin airport has been receiving some bad press about the long security waits, however, I flew out of Dublin twice this summer, with this flight being my second. Air Canada recommends that you arrive FOUR hours before your flight when flying out of Dublin!! The first time I flew out of Dublin a couple of weeks earlier, security took about 45 minutes so I gambled that it was unlikely to be a problem. As we had no bags to check and not wanting to deprive ourselves of sleep, we decided to arrive at the airport three hours before departure and that was plenty of time. Security took in the range of 30-40 minutes to get through.
One we got through security, we headed to the T1 Lounge, which is the lounge for Air Canada business class passengers. I will be posting a review on that lounge at a later date.
When the boarding time came, we headed to our gate. Air Canada's gate was a fair trek, about 10 minutes away from the lounge. When we arrived at the gate there was about a 10 minute delay in boarding as the aircraft was being serviced. When boarding did take place, the location of the boarding lane set-up was odd as it was basically beside and behind the seating area at the gate which meant that once boarding was announced everyone jumped up and clogged the narrow area which made for a very crowded boarding process. To reach the boarding lane you had to wade through a crowd of people. Less than ideal.
Our flight ended up being delayed by about an hour from its scheduled departure time. Not bad and pretty much to be expected in the summer of 2022.
Seating Area (8/10)
As noted above, Ladi's review fully covers the seating on this aircraft so I won't go into much detail here and will provide just an overview. I do like Air Canada's business class pods on their 787-8. The business class cabin itself is quite small, having only 5 rows of 4 seats each, for a total of 20 seats. Business class was full on this flight. I do prefer this smaller cabin layout as compared to Air Canada's 787-9 or 777. It just seems cozier and I think the smaller cabin lends itself to better service.
Our party of four was seated at the front of the cabin in seats 1A, 1D, 2A and 2D. I was seated in 2D. Be aware that there is no luggage storage above seats 1A, 1D and 2D. However, the overhead storage in business class is ample, so there was no difficulty storing most of our carry on luggage above seat 2A, with one bag placed above 3A.
Waiting for me at the my seat was a mattress seat cover, blanket and pillow. As well, there was the typical COVID safety kit (masks, wipes, etc.), a bottle of water and an amenity kit.
The amenity kit was from Want Les Essentials, a Montreal based design company specializing in bags and accessories. The amenity kit came with toothpaste, toothbrush, a small container of mouthwash, a floss pick, eyeshade, socks, earplugs, a glass cloth and Vitruvi lip balm and hand lotion.
The business class seats in the 787-8 are the same as you will find in Air Canada's 787-9 and 777, and are in the familiar 1-2-1 configuration with a reverse herringbone layout and a seat width of 21 inches (53 centimeters). The seats are quite comfortable with ample leg room. There is a foot rest at the far forward area of the seat which connects to form part of the bed when the seat is in the sleep position. Beneath the footrest there is plenty of room to store a small bag.
This was actually the first time I have flown Air Canada Signature's Class in a middle seat as typically I choose a window seat. The privacy of the seats are generally good, however, the privacy screen between the middle seats is actually lower than I expected so I could quite easily see the passenger seated directly across from me in the adjacent middle seat. However, the privacy from the aisle was good. On this trip, my wife and I were seated in seats 1D and 2D respectively as I thought that we would have difficulty communicating with each other if we were each in middle seats in the same row. As it turns out, next time I think I would be inclined to pick the two middle seats in the same row. While Air Canada's business class seats really aren't great for couples travelling together, I would think the two seats in the middle row across from each other would be preferable to two middle seats in front and behind of each other as each time I wanted to speak with my wife I had to stand up and tap her on the shoulder.
The seat also comes with digital controls to adjust the seat.
The counterspace also includes a handy storage area containing a remote control, USB connection, a power plug and a headphone connection. It's a great spot to toss your phone into to let it charge. With respect to the headphones, Air Canada provides noise cancelling headphones at each business class seat. I used them on this trip and they were adequate - far from outstanding, but adequate.
Cabin Services (8/10 Points)
The service and staff on this flight were excellent. I would have to say this was one of top two best experiences flying Air Canada's business class and it exceeded my typical expectations. The head flight attendant went out of her way to connect with and chat with each passenger and seemed genuinely interested in them, whether it was a book they were reading or where they were travelling to or from. The service itself was efficient and friendly with regular inquiries as to whether everything was fine and whether there was anything the staff could do for you. This is the level of service that is typically far too lacking on Air Canada flights. I am hopeful that such service levels will start to become the rule rather than the exception.
The aircraft was equipped with Wi-Fi which was available for purchase. I have never actually purchased Wi-Fi on an Air Canada flight, but on this trip I thought I would give it a go by using some Aeroplan points to purchase a Wi-Fi package. A few hours into the 9 hour flight, I tried to purchase a Wi-Fi package. First, the loading of the web page to purchase the Wi-Fi was quite slow. Then, because I wanted to use Aeroplan points to purchase a package, it would attempt to take me to my Aeroplan account page, but often the page simply stalled and didn't load. Those times that it did load, I would click to make the purchase but, again, the page would stall. After about 20 minutes of trying, I simply gave up and decided to watch a movie.
Below is the pricing for the Wi-Fi package. I can't say whether the performance of the Wi-Fi is worth purchasing but given the outcome of my efforts to simply try to purchase a Wi-Fi package, the performance on this particular flight did not seem promising.
Price (Cdn$ or Aeroplan points)
$7 or 700 points
$11.25 or 1500 points
Ultimate Pass (Includes Streaming)
$13.75 or 1400 points
$24 or 2400 points
Air Canada Plan
$65.95 / Month
In-Flight Entertainment (9/10 Points)
Every business class seat is equipped with an 18 inch Panasonic eX3 high definition touch screen.
As usual, Air Canada had a very comprehensive selection of entertainment options, including feature movies, regular movies, TV shows, music and audio programs, games and an interactive map. I rarely have complaints about the quality and the variety of Air Canada's entertainment offerings.
Meals and Snacks (8/10 Points)
On this flight, we were served dinner shortly after taking off from Dublin and then a light meal before landing in Vancouver. We departed Dublin at around 11am, and dinner was served about an hour after departure. It is a little odd to go from breakfast to dinner in a matter of a couple of hours, but does start resetting the body clock in preparation for Vancouver time.
Below is the menu for this flight:
Prior to the meal, the flight attendant came by and placed a linen tablecloth over the table and took my beverage order. Below is the beverage menu:
For a beverage, I started with a Perrier which was offered with ice and a lemon slice (I try to stay hydrated on long flights). Shortly after receiving my beverage, the appetizer course was delivered.
The presentation of the appetizer course was well done. Smoked salmon is a staple on Air Canada's appetizer menu and I like the fact that they mix it up by providing different types of smoked salmon (this time on offer was the lox variety) and I appreciated the addition of the poached prawns. The salmon and prawns were very fresh and cool and I thoroughly enjoyed them.
The salad, as I've come to expect with Air Canada, was pretty basic and came with a vinaigrette dressing. It was fresh, so I have no complaints, though the addition of some vegetables like tomatoes or peppers would be a welcome change rather than merely grated carrots. The whole wheat roll was adequate, though, as I have complained before, Air Canada continues to serve the roll with rock hard butter which makes it impossible to spread on the roll and just ends up tearing the roll apart as it sticks in a big chunk on the roll.
For dinner, I chose the beef fillet. After the appetizer course, drinks were again offered and I opted to have red wine with my dinner. I went with the French wine, Oustau St-Andre, which paired nicely with the beef fillet. The flight attendant was very efficient in keeping my wine glass topped up.
On past reviews I have mentioned that Air Canada never seems to have sufficient beef dishes in stock and I haven't been able to actually try the beef for that reason. I was pleased that I was able to order the beef on this flight. The beef fillet was quite nice and relatively tender. It could have used a bit more black pepper sauce. The squash had a good texture and taste and thankfully was not overcooked and mushy. The potatoes were fine, but fairly bland. A nice surprise was that the grilled zuchinni which had great flavour, was not overcooked and tasted as if it had just been removed from the grill.
Next came the dessert. On offer was a cheese plate, fresh fruit and a cheesecake. This was different than the menu which indicated white chocolate mousse, not cheesecake. That menu change fine with me as I am a fan of cheesecake. I requested a cheese plate and a piece of cheesecake.
The cheese plate was quite nice with very flavourable cheeses, Port, Brie and cheddar. The serving size was also about right. My only complaint is that it came with only two crackers which was not sufficient given the amount of cheese on the plate.
The cheesecake was disappointing as it tasted like a processed packaged dessert - kind of like what you might get at a cheap buffet.
Shortly before landing, we were served a light meal, consisting of prosciutto, ham, a roll, grilled chicken, potato salad, a side of fruit and chocolates. The meats and grilled chicken were tasty enough. The potato salad left much to be desired as it was quite a mushy consistency without great flavour.
The side of fruit was very fresh, crispy and refreshing.
The two designer chocolates to end the meal were a nice touch. Apparently they were tasty because they didn't last long enough for me to get a picture of them!
During the flight there was also a basket of snacks set out at the front of the cabin for self service, along with bottles of water. The snacks included Ms. Vickie's potato chips, Kit Kat and Lindt chocolate bars and packages of almonds. This is an improvement over the previous COVID protocols where you would simply be handed a plastic bag with a package of chips and a chocolate bar at your seat near the end of the flight. It was nice to be able to graze throughout the flight whenever you found yourself a bit peckish.
Overall, I have to say that I quite enjoyed the meals on this flight. With a few minor exceptions, the quality of the food wasn't just fine, it was actually very good.
From start to finish, this flight ranks as one of the most enjoyable flights I have had with Air Canada. While the hard product remains the same as other flights I have taken, the personal attention of the staff and the quality of the food were big improvements this time around. I had a similar good experience on my flight to Dublin (review to come). Air Canada seems to be upping their game and I look forward to flying with them again.
When In Vancouver:
Westin Bayshore: https://www.pointspals.com/post/hotel-review-westin-bayshore-vancouver-canada
Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa: https://www.pointspals.com/post/hotel-review-hilton-whistler-resort-spa-whistler-canada
Other Air Canada Flight Reviews:
787-8 - Business Class YVR-YYZ
737-Max 8 - Economy Class YVR-LAX
777-300LR - Business Class YVR-YYZ
787-9 - Business Class YVR-ICN
A220-300 - Economy Class YVR-SNA