Back on AC, this time in busines class
I went to University in Montreal, so I am no stranger to Air Canada. But back then, on a student’s budget and having yet to discover the amazing world of credit card rewards, international business class was the last place you’d find me – more likely in the back of the plane on a transcon of some sort 🙂 Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and I’m flying AC’s great business class from Beijing to Vancouver on my way back to Seattle. Both Hainan and Delta fly nonstop between Beijing and Seattle, but ever since I started seeing pictures of Air Canada’s new reverse herringbone business class floating around online, I have wanted to fly it. Plus, I’ve flown Delta’s A330 business class a few times now, and as a card-carrying avgeek, trying a new airline/plane always takes precedence over minimizing connections!
In this post...
Reviewed in 30 seconds
How I Got Here
As an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner (points transfer instantly…), Aeroplan lets you book flights directly on Air Canada. This flight, in particular, was 75,000 miles and CAD 287.40, so it seemed like a worthwhile redemption, given that buying this seat would have cost me $3,886.20 retail! That means I was getting $0.05 per point, well within my “good value” range which requires getting at least $0.04 per point. Earning Membership Rewards points can happen with a number of their cards, my favorites being:
- The American Express® Gold Card – currently offering a 35,000 MR point welcome offer, with the ability to earn 3x points on dining and 3x points on airfare and groceries (groceries capped at $25k/spend/year).
- The Platinum Card® from American Express – 60,000 point welcome offer, 5x on airfare, $200 Uber credit, lounge access, Marriott and Hilton Gold status, and more…one of the cards that will always be in my wallet.
I actually have both of those cards and use both at different times for different reasons. If you’re looking to come at Air Canada from a different angle and for slightly more points than with Aeroplan, you can always check out the Chase credit cards, whose UltimateRewards points can be transferred to United, then redeemed as a partner redemption on Air Canada.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – 60,000 points bonus, 2x on dining and travel, including hotels, airfare, and transportation (think Uber etc.). This is probably one of the most popular rewards cards out there right now.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card – another points earning powerhouse, the Reserve has a 50,000 points sign-up bonus as well, but it earns 3x on travel and dining, gets you Priority Pass lounge access, a $300 annual travel credit, and a $100 Global Entry/PreCheck credit.
I enjoyed this seat quite a bit. It has the right amount of technology, clean design, good privacy, and I slept rather well in it. At first glance, this is just another reverse herringbone seat, but it’s got some details the make it stand out from the competition. First – the divider: it actually makes these middle seats more private because it’s effective at separating you from your neighbor. I didn’t see the person next to me the whole flight.
Moving on to the rest of the seat, you’ll notice some nifty little storage areas. I especially like that I could charge my phone and leave it tucked in the little compartment where the power port is, rather than having it resting on the armrest, at risk of falling down into the seat and ruining your chances of reclining (more on that in my post about Qatar 787 business class…).
The seat controls are simple, intuitive and placed right where they should be, which is more than I can say for some other carriers. Headrest and lumbar adjustments are a nice touch and always welcome on a business class seat. I didn’t use the massage feature and pretty much never do, as a little vibration and/or a bladder slowly inflating/deflating isn’t really going to do anything to either a) relax me, or b) work out any tension in my back muscles.
Now the one thing I didn’t like about this seat is that you feel pretty confined when sleeping. Your traytable and IFE housing assembly ends up being right about waistline when you’re lying down, so you feel a bit boxed in. You can kind of see how far that whole part of the seat comes out in the picture below:
More miscellaneous shots of the seat are below:
The Food and Service
Service was great on this flight IMHO. I felt like the cabin crew was attentive and that I was never wondering when whatever I ordered was coming or when they’d be walking through the cabin next, which is a good thing.
The flight started with your standard PDB service, for which I decided on sparkling water instead of champagne, for once 😉 Then on to dinner service, and of course the pre-arrival breakfast. I slept pretty much the whole flight except for these two meals so didn’t sample and mid-flight snacks. Overall the food was good and what I would expect in business class on a top-tier carrier.
The Amenity Kit
Everything you need and nothing you don’t. A razor would’ve been a nice touch, but that’s something you typically only see in first class. Socks, moisturizer, refreshing towel (kinda not needed with hot towel service), eyeshades and earplugs for sleeping, and toothbrush/toothpaste. I did like that we also got slippers – like direct aisle access for everyone, no business class experience is complete without them.
The In-flight Entertainment
Air Canda’s business class features 18″ screens, which I would say is larger than average for seats of similar design, where you’ll typically see something more like 15 inches (or worse!). The high-resolution screen is accompanied by a touchscreen/video remote tucked away next to the power port. This means to use the remote you’ve got to pull it out of its holster and leave it on the armrest or your lap – not ideal, but not a big deal, either. As is the case on most carriers, there’s plenty of options to choose from, and if you’re curious what’s playing on your flight, simply follow this link. Noise-cancelling headphones – standard on most carriers in business and first these days – were fine, but I opted to use my own personal Bose QC35 wireless headphones, probably the best travel accessory for long flights that I’ve ever purchased.
The Bottom Line
I really like Air Canada business class a lot, and will definitely fly it again. For longer flights, I think the Amex points are well worth spending on Air Canada – service is good, you get all the amenities you need, and the seat is stylish, functional, and comfortable. What more can you ask for in business class?