Air Canada Signature Service. Vancouver to Toronto.

My journey home after Seattle pride was sub-optimal.

I was booked on an Alaska Airlines flight at 07.00 on Monday morning from Seattle to Portland.  I was then connecting to an Air Canada flight from Portland to Vancouver where I connected to another Air Canada service to Toronto.

The problem was that Sunday afternoon is the Cuff block party at Seattle pride.  I was with friends.  I might have had a drink or eight.  I think I got to sleep about 01.00 after perhaps making a new friend.

I checked out of the Seattle Westin (which I’ve previously reviewed here) around 05.30 and Uber’d to the airport.  I was through security and had a good 45 minutes to boarding.  I was hung over to buggery.  I found a diner in the airport and had the carbiest, greasiest food I could find.  It helped.  A bit.

I boarded.  We took off.  We landed in Portland.  I wandered to the next gate where I sat for a bit.  I found a burger which helped the hangover a somewhat.

The Air Canada flight (like the Alaska one earlier) was also a Bombardier Q400, although was running around an hour late.  My connection time was meant to be 2h 15 minutes, so this reduced it to a little under an hour and a half.

Again, we took off and I napped.  We landed in Vancouver and taxied to the gate.  There then followed a *long* walk, perhaps a good 700m to the main terminal.  There was an Air Canada lady asking if people were connecting to a domestic flight.  I was, so she gave me an orange card.  I walked on and entered the immigration hall and my face dropped.  It was utterly packed.

However there was a sign for those with an orange domestic connections card, like the one I was given.  I followed it and it lead to a gentleman checking boarding passes – he saw the orange card and directed me into an empty tensa-barrier maze that lead to some immigration machines.  I completed the formalities there and handed my slip to the friendly immigration officer and was on my way in under five minutes.

I walked into the customs hall and again there was a section for people with an orange domestic connections card.  It was also empty and I was through there, into an elevator, and up onto another level with another 200m walk and finally a security check-point.

There was only one scanner working and perhaps 40 people ahead so took about 15 minutes go get through and for me to re-enter the airside area.  By this time it was just under an hour before my next flight was due to board.  I nipped into the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge for a quick pit stop and headed to the gate were the boarding queues had already formed.

The four hour flight was operated by a Boeing 777-300ER and I had seat 4A.  Air Canada have the B/E Super Diamond reverse herringbone seat installed in the aircraft.  I have to say of all the off-the-shelf business class products out there, this is one of my favourites.  It’s well laid out, spacious, has all aisle access and quite private too.  There was a great IFE with a touch screen remote control too.

By this point I had mostly got over my hangover and decided to enjoy a glass of Prosecco whilst boarding was still completing, and the other passengers were settling in.

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Air Canada business class Prosecco pre-departure drink

It wasn’t long before we were in the air and the in-flight service started.

The lovely crew came around with hot towels and took drink orders.  The Prosecco must have helped the hangover so I felt it was time for a gin and tonic; it was served with some warmed nuts to nibble on.

Lunch was quickly brought out and a table cloth laid out.

Compared to my United flight the previous direction, the quality of the food definitely seemed a step up.  The food seemed a little less mass produced and tastier.  The wines were massively better.

Cheese was offered round to the cabin.  Purely for review purposes I opted for a glass of port as well.

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Air Canada business class cheese course

Then the crew separately went around offering dessert.  I was on a roll by this point, so felt I may as well have a glass of Cognac too.

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Air Canada business class dessert and cognac

With that I decided to nap for the remainder of the flight!

Thoughts

Apart from the bloody obvious point of not booking a 07.00 flight on the morning after Seattle Pride and the Cuff block party, it was a remarkably pleasant journey.

Vancouver immigration was a complete zoo, but thanks to their connection programme, I breezed through.

Air Canada’s domestic transcontinental business class I thought was excellent.  It was a fantastic hard product, with engaged cabin crew, good quality food, lovely wines plus a choice of cheese and then dessert.

Whilst still a business class product, I felt it was a significant step up from the service that United provided on the way out and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.

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