TESTED BY Clement Huang
PLANE TYPE 777-300ER
SEAT CONFIGURATION 1-2-1
SEAT PITCH 75 in/191 cm
SEAT WIDTH 20 in/52 cm
SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek round trip business class ticket to Hong Kong in April start at C$5,053 ($3,631) including taxes and surcharges.
VERDICT: An excellent business class seat that was matched by very good service and premium amenities. However, the same can’t be said for Air Canada’s ground operations, which didn’t cope well with the disruptions.
CHECK-IN: I arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport at 0710 for the scheduled 1000 departure of flight AC15 to Hong Kong. The economy check-in process was atrocious (I held an economy class ticket, with the possibility of an upgrade to business at the gate). Not only was there a long queue, but when it was finally my turn to be checked in a power outage hit the airport, leading to the shutdown of all computers.
To further complicate matters there was confusion over the name my booking was in. The counter staff struggled to find my booking on the computer. I finally made my way through security at 0820 and was airside in about 15 minutes.
LOUNGE: Since I only held an economy class ticket, I could not access the Maple Leaf Lounge, located on level 3 at Node F. However as a Priority Pass member I could use the Plaza Premium lounge, also located in Terminal 1. The facility was modestly sized with plenty of seating available, with a generous F&B selection.
BOARDNG: As I approached the ticket counter I was promptly handed a new boarding pass for business class. I switched lines, was quickly processed and boarded the plane at 0935.
THE SEAT: Air Canada operates a two- and three-class version of the 777-300ER. I was on the former, which features 42 seats in business class arranged in a 1-2-1 layout, meaning all passengers have direct aisle access. Overall, the “Classic Pod” business class product leaves a positive impression. The seat can be extended into a fully-flat bed and offers individual power outlets to charge electronic devices, as well as a USB port by the side of the seat.
There really isn’t a “bad seat” in business class, as even the middle seats are angled away from each other, meaning that individual passengers enjoy excellent privacy. I was in 10G, a middle seat toward the back of the cabin. An attendant soon came along with a tray of welcome drinks – I chose a glass of orange juice.
THE FLIGHT: Service on the flight was impressive and I was addressed by name most of the time. Overall, it was much better than the service I had previously experienced flying on most North American airlines.
Every business class seat came with an amenity kit, bedding and a bottle of mineral water. Browsing through the in-flight entertainment options, I found the touchscreen to be intuitive and the sound quality from the headphones was excellent.
Flight AC15 took off at 1020, approaching cruising altitude ten minutes later. A second round of drinks was served along with an in-flight dining menu; this time I chose Moko Black Sauvignon Blanc, a New Zealand wine that was refreshingly crisp.
Lunch service began just before 12 noon with a tuna appetizer. For my main course, I chose the sablefish – a signature dish by Vancouver fine dining chef David Hawksworth. It was delicious, soft and flaky, and the brown rice and bok-choy added texture. I chose to skip the cheese course and had the dark chocolate fondant cake with a sweet blackberry compote instead.
After lunch, it was time to get some sleep, so I reclined my seat into its fully-flat configuration, laid out my bedding and got eight full hours of uninterrupted sleep on the comfortable and supportive bed.
The brunch service began roughly two hours before arrival, but it was a forgettable affair. I opted for the parsley omelet and was rather disappointed. (Admittedly, I’ve yet to be impressed by any omelet served in the air.)
ARRIVAL: Descent was announced at 1230, with a new arrival time of 1320 – more than an hour ahead of schedule. The plane landed and approached the gate five minutes later.