Review: Air Canada Business Class 787 Toronto To Frankfurt

Filed Under: Air Canada

Air Canada 876
Toronto (YYZ) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Thursday, May 19
Depart: 9:40PM
Arrive: 11:10AM (+1 day)
Duration: 7hr30min
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9
Seat: 4K (Business Class)

I boarded through door L1, where I was greeted by the service director and pointed to the far aisle, where my seat was located. My previous flight was operated by a Boeing 787-8 featuring just 20 business class seats, while this flight was operated by a Boeing 787-9, featuring 30 business class seats. The seats were still all in a single cabin, but thanks to the bigger space between doors one and two, there were simply an extra two and a half rows worth of seats.

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Air Canada 787-9 business class cabin

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Air Canada 787-9 business class cabin

As on the 787-8, the 787-9 has reverse herringbone seats, and I had selected seat 4K.

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Air Canada business class seat

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Air Canada business class seat

There were a couple of pillows waiting at my seat, along with a plush blanket. Air Canada has fantastic pillows and blankets.

As before, the entertainment screen was positioned in front of me, immediately above the tray table, which could be pulled out during the meal service.

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Air Canada business class personal television and tray table

To the right of my seat were the entertainment controls, headphone jack, and power outlets.

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Air Canada business class seat entertainment controls

Already waiting at my seat was a bottle of water, amenity kit, and in-ear headphones.

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Air Canada business class amenity kit, bottled water, and headphones

The amenity kit featured the basics, including eyeshades, earplugs, socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a mint, along with some lip balm and lotion.

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Air Canada business class amenity kit contents

The business class cabin filled up pretty quickly, and the crew was great in hanging coats and greeting passengers as they boarded.

Once most of the business class cabin was settled in, the flight attendant working my aisle came by to introduce herself and present me with the menus for the flight. She explained that in addition to the dinner menu, there was a breakfast “card,” which would be collected shortly before takeoff. It’s a great concept, since you can basically already order what you want to eat before landing, to allow you to maximize your sleep onboard.

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Air Canada business class menu

Shortly thereafter the crew came around with newspapers, followed by pre-departure beverages, including the choice between water, orange juice, and champagne. I selected the champagne. Unlike on my domestic flight, drinks were served in proper glassware, rather than cups.

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Air Canada business class pre-departure champagne

As I sat there during boarding I couldn’t help but think that Air Canada would really benefit from some boarding music. Not that it makes the difference between a good flight and a bad flight, but I find memorable and soothing boarding music, like on Etihad or Oman Air, to really set the tone for a flight.

At 9:30PM the captain came on the PA to add his welcome aboard “one of Air Canada’s brand new Boeing 787-9 aircraft.” He also informed us of our flight time of 7hr2min, which he anticipated would put us into Frankfurt on-time.

The door closed at 9:40PM with a full business class cabin, and a couple of minutes after that we began our pushback, right next to a Lufthansa A330 (by the way, I love the night pictures that the Sony RX100 takes, which are so much clearer than what I’ve been able to capture with other cameras).

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Lufthansa A330 Toronto Airport

The safety video played as we taxied out, at which point the (Scottish) service director came around to take dinner orders, and also to collect breakfast cards.

Our taxi to the runway was fairly quick, and at 9:55PM we were airborne.

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View after takeoff from Toronto

After takeoff I browsed the entertainment selection. On my previous flight I hadn’t realized just how extensive the selection was, because under TV shows I never even checked the HBO options.

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Air Canada entertainment system

So I watched Whitney Cummings’ first HBO special, “I’m Your Girlfriend,” which was crass and hilarious.

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Air Canada entertainment system

The seatbelt sign was turned off 10 minutes after takeoff. About five minutes after the seatbelt sign was turned off, the crew came around with warm towels.

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Air Canada business class hot towel

At that point the dinner service began, or perhaps more accurately the “late evening express supper” service. The menu read as follows:

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The wine and beverage list read as follows:

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Air Canada’s supper service is extremely efficient. On one hand I like the option of having a more drawn out menu while also having the option of an express option, but on a short transatlantic flight there’s something to be said for everything being served quickly, and the lights then immediately being shut off.

That’s exactly what Air Canada does on late night flights to Europe. About 30 minutes after takeoff the crew rolled carts through the aisle with drinks and the dinner service.

Everything was served on one tray, including a salad, main course, cheese course, fresh fruit, bread, and chocolates.

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Air Canada business class dinner service

There was a side salad consisting of cherry tomatoes with vinaigrette, which was fine, though on the small side.

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Air Canada business class dinner — mixed greens, grape tomatoes, vinaigrette

For the main course I had the cod loin, which was exceptional. It was flavorful, and I enjoyed the grain medley and vegetables which were served with it.

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Air Canada business class dinner — roasted cod loin with grain medley and roasted vegetables

The cheese course was quite nice as well.

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Air Canada business class dinner — oka, camembert, cheddar, and crackers

And the fresh fruit was good for what it was.

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Air Canada business class dinner — fresh seasonal fruit

Then there were a box of chocolates, which I saved for a later time.

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Air Canada business class dinner — chocolates

Once the meal was done, the crew came around with coffee & tea. I had a cup of coffee.

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Air Canada business class dinner — coffee

Less than an hour after takeoff the cabin lights were dimmed. Like I said, usually I’m not a fan of airlines only offering an abbreviated service, but for a short transatlantic flight I see merit to it, so that noise and light are kept to a minimum.

I will say the crew was once again very good. They were efficient, graceful, and jovial.

After dinner I headed to the lavatory behind the cabin. While there are two lavatories behind business class, one is reserved for premium economy. The lavatory was fairly nice, and it’s kind of cool that there’s a window in there.

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Air Canada 787-9 business class lavatory

An hour after takeoff we were just north of Boston, and I was ready to sleep.

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Airshow enroute to Frankfurt before going to sleep

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Airshow enroute to Frankfurt before going to sleep

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Airshow enroute to Frankfurt before going to sleep

I managed to get a solid 3-4 hours of sleep, which was much better than I usually do on a short transatlantic flight. I woke up just off the coast of Ireland, with under two hours to go until our arrival in Frankfurt.

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Airshow enroute to Frankfurt after waking up

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Airshow enroute to Frankfurt after waking up

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Airshow enroute to Frankfurt after waking up

At this point the cabin was still mostly dark, as many passengers were sleeping (though a surprising number were also awake and watching TV).

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Air Canada 787 business class cabin

When one of the flight attendants saw I was awake she came by with a snack basket to see if I wanted anything, and said breakfast service would start soon.

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Air Canada business class snack basket

I watched another sitcom, and about 75 minutes before landing the cabin lights were turned up in anticipation of breakfast. The menu read as follows:

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Service was performed off a cart, with the crew having prepped each tray with what each passenger had ordered, except for the hot dishes, which were brought around afterwards.

I had ordered the fresh fruit, a yogurt, a muffin, and coffee.

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Air Canada business class breakfast

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Air Canada business class breakfast — vanilla greek yogurt

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Air Canada business class breakfast — muffin

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Air Canada business class breakfast — sliced fresh fruit

A few minutes later I was also served an omelet. The omelet was light and fluffy, and I loved the red pepper relish it came with.

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Air Canada business class breakfast — omelet with sausage and potatoes

After breakfast I continued to browse the entertainment selection, and ended up watching “The Travel Show: Japan” starring Rajan Datar. I love Japanese culture, and especially enjoyed this episode. If you have time to watch the part about the Japanese village filled with scarecrows, I highly recommend it. It’s both heartwarming and sort of sad.

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Air Canada entertainment selection

About 40 minutes before landing we began our descent, and about 20 minutes after that the captain came on the PA to provide us with updated arrival information, informing us we’d be landing at 10:55AM. As usual, views of the German countryside on approach were gorgeous.

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View on approach to Frankfurt

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View on approach to Frankfurt

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Airshow on approach to Frankfurt

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Airshow on approach to Frankfurt

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Airshow on approach to Frankfurt

We ended up flying past the airport and then making a 180 degree turn to land into the west, and had some great views of the field while doing that.

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View of Frankfurt Airport on approach

On final approach we had some nice views of the Frankfurt skyline as well.

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View of Frankfurt skyline on approach

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View on final approach into Frankfurt

We touched down at Frankfurt Airport on runway 25R at 10:55AM.

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View on final approach into Frankfurt

From there we had a fairly long taxi to our arrival stand, as is the norm in Frankfurt.

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Taxiing Frankfurt Airport

Despite a high speed taxi, it took us about 15 minutes to get to our arrival stand. I didn’t mind one bit, given that I love the traffic at Frankfurt Airport. I love Lufthansa, so any chance to gaze at their planes is an opportunity I’ll take advantage of.

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Lufthansa A330 Frankfurt Airport

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Lineup of planes at Frankfurt Airport

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Lineup of planes at Frankfurt Airport

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Lufthansa A380s Frankfurt Airport

At 11:10AM we pulled into a remote stand between two United 777s.

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Remote stands at Frankfurt Airport

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Our remote stand at Frankfurt Airport

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United 777 Frankfurt Airport

Within a couple of minutes the doors were opened, and we were loaded onto the waiting buses.

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Remote stand buses at Frankfurt Airport

While I hate remote stands, I do like getting up close and personal with heavies, especially a plane as gorgeous as the 787.

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Air Canada 787 upon arrival at Frankfurt Airport

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Air Canada 787 upon arrival at Frankfurt Airport

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Air Canada 787 upon arrival at Frankfurt Airport

Our drive to the terminal took about 10 minutes, and we drove past a Singapore A380, Qatar 787, etc.

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Singapore A380 Frankfurt Airport

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Qatar 787 Frankfurt Airport

Air Canada 787 business class bottom line

This was another great flight on Air Canada. Air Canada’s 787s are gorgeous, with great entertainment, pillows, and blankets.

The crew on this flight was friendly and attentive, as was the case on the previous flight.

While the meal service on this flight wasn’t elaborate, it was extremely efficient, which is quite useful on a quick transatlantic flight.

Overall I’d say Air Canada offers one of the best business class products across the Atlantic. Now if only they’d install Wi-Fi throughout their longhaul fleet…

  1. Coincidence Lucky, when I booked I already selected seat 4K for my flight to Paris in July! But that’s on an AC777-300 with 42 seats in business class. But it’s the reverse herringbone new pods, nice to see that we are thinking the same way on seating strategy. Looking forward to the cod dinner if that’s what they’ve got on offer when I travel. I also like the idea of maximizing sleep time with the single tray service. I had figured on getting only 3 hours horizontal but now it looks like I’ll get more.

  2. Nice reviews!

    While I’m not much for airplane photos (I grew up next to JFK and had my ear splitting fill by age 7), you are right, that Sony takes great shots! I loved the clarity on the aerial view.

    While I share your enthusiasm for Kit Kats, not when Lindt Excellence us on offer! A nice basket indeed!

    Does Air Canada’s 787/900 seats share the same shake issue as Americans? Are the preferred seats (to avoid shake) the same as on American?

  3. Whoops, I see they are reverse herring ones on both flights! Ibviously a smarter group running this aspect of Air Canada then their AA counterparts.

  4. “it’s kind of cool that there’s a window in there.”

    What’s cool is that it has a real window shade. One major disadvantage of the 787 is that Boeing cut costs by building an extremely cheap airplane that doesn’t even come with window shades. You’d think no one fancier than RyanAir would stand for it, but they appear to be able to sell the planes.

    Still, it would be a nice upgrade to have those in every row.

  5. Air Canada will install wifi on all their Mainline widebody aircraft over the next two years.
    I believe all narrowbody Mainline and the CRA’s have wifi now.

    No shake issues with AC seats from what I can tell, have flown, and read.

  6. That SQ A380 was in the same spot a few summers ago as we were deplaning from our LH 748, another cool plane.

  7. @Lady Carnavon von villy | First, I’m annoyed I had to copy/paste your dumb username. Second, these reviews are actually very helpful for those of us who might be flying these airlines in the future and have options. Sorry if you’re not entertained, but please just stop reading the blog if it “all” really makes you “yawn.”

  8. @Lucky: for that A330 night photo, consider adjusting the camera white balance to Night or Incandescent to help neutralize the orange color cast.

    Otherwise good to hear you’re enjoying the camera and the AC flights!

  9. Small correction – AC serves prosecco on the ground and saves the Drappier for the air.

  10. The frequencies used for transmitting the radio signals from the plane to the ground within Canada were used for other purposes until relatively recently, meaning that ground based in flight wifi system deployment was delayed. Aircraft used for primarily US longer haul routes (eg YYZ-LAX) have had wifi available for quite some time.

  11. I’m sure the “lineup of plans” was “fairy nice” like the lavatory. You know what I mean

  12. I get the fact that people want to sleep, but one more entree option would be nice.

    I love how the flexible option is basically the same as the regular meal, just minus the chocolates and bread lol

  13. If they had served the entire dinner service meal on one tray on AA, everyone would flip a ****. haha.

  14. @Aaron: on long-haul flights, you are presented with a relatively elaborate menu consisting of 5 entrees (typically 4 western and 1 exotic based on the aircraft’s destination and 3 non-veg and 2 veg). Also, the cheese, dessert and after dinner items are presented on a trolley to select from. During the entire flight, there are many snack options, including samosas, a medley of humus, felafel and baba ganoush with warm pita, fruits, chocolates, ice cream, etc on the long hauls. And of course, cappuccino and espresso on demand. Oddly, my understanding was that a single crew member designated as the “cook” is the one trained on using all of the heating/coffee preparation hardware. So, on my flight, when I wanted and espresso with ice cream 9 hours into a 14 hour flight, I had to wait a while until the FA on duty could figure out how to use the cappuccino maker (which is from Lavazza). The breakfast (or in some cases that “odd” meal) is typically the same trademark AC for as long as I have known.

    Other than that, the seats, service and drinks selections are perfect. FYI, the lavatory just behind the biz class cabins are actually just a bit larger and are nicer to change into/out of pyajamas, etc.

  15. 787-8 and 9 are fantastic hard products, great IFE….the problem is the food and amenities
    1.5 hrs from HND before a first beverage was served. The standard dried out filet option, with “world class wines by Ken Chase” which are in fact $15 mediocre reds and whites.
    And as for the bubbly, Drappier is probably the lamest champers out there, even entry Moet is better.
    So great hard product but for the Business Class price the dollar store amenity kit and low end sustenance and bev is really disappointing

  16. It is amazing that AC gets away with that same egg dish on North American and long haul flights, and has for at least 5 years now. It isn’t bad, but it is getting pretty trying. Also, hot cottage cheese is weird.

    I’m actually shocked you were as into the fish as you were. I’ve had nothing but poor experiences with fish on AC, to the point that I actively avoid it.

    I do find the AC cabin crews tend to be good at personalizing the service to each passenger. Those that want to sleep get left alone and those that want service get it.

    The seat is top notch. Basically a version of the CX/AA seat, but with some interesting differences (weird tray, for example). Extremely comfortable.

  17. Hi, first of all sorry for my english, I will try my best.

    I really enjoy reading your and other trip reports since I fly a lot every year and even if for flights inside Europe it is not necessary I always fly business because I really enjoy flying with this little extras, for transatlantic flights and flights to Asia business is a must for me… so I answer here because I am not agree with your positive evaluation about air Canada’s business class I think they lost a very good opportunity to make business class much better on the 787. The seats are to close together and the food is just standard, I also find that AC crews are not the most friendly one around there and your comment about AC is the best option to fly over the Atlantic makes me thinking that or AC pays you a lot or you never fly all the other airlines that offers flights over the Atlantic.

  18. Having wistfully looked into that reverse herringbone cabin on both a new 787-8 out and a tired old A330 back to Europe, I’m glad to hear of passable product and service in business class.

    In contrast, Air Canada sure makes no effort for the poor saps in steerage who get no manned check-ins at Heathrow, lousy food, cramped seats and indifferent crew.

    Especially the dragon on the way back who showed no concern for my tight connection at Frankfurt (we were, of course, late) and kept barking ‘two hour connection is the rule’ at me. Thanks to another FA, and some helpful Germans, I was chucked off Air Canada first and through security very fast and just made my connector, marvelling at the clean Lufthansa 320 and immaculate friendly crew.

    Crews like that might consider Those of us sometimes forced by company (or in this case, government) policy to fly economy also have discretionary points and dollars with which to buy our own recreational flights and Air Canada is the last with whom I would wish to fly on my own dime. A pity, as the AC standard I experienced is far short of the hospitable Canadians I have encountered in hotels and restaurants over there.

    Love your reviews, Lucky, especially the multiple photos. My daily treat.

  19. What a difference a class and crew makes.

    Two years ago, government policy decreed my Air Canada round trip (Heathrow to Toronto then home to Birmingham UK from Montreal via Frankfurt) be in Economy and boy was it. All-machine check-in in London (delayed ages by tech-phobic infrequent travellers and faulty machines) but, eventually, a passable steerage trip over in a nice new 787-8 (crew dimmed all the sun-side window shades after complaints from pax about the glare).

    Coming back, the scruffy A330 departed late and cabin crew could not have cared less about my consequent tight connection. Lousy food and poor entertainment didn’t help. I made my FRA connection to an immaculate Lufthansa A320, staffed by a welcoming crew, vowing never to fly Air Canada again.

    And I haven’t.

    In business class, it might be a different story.

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