For the very last segment of my review trip, I flew Air Canada’s Boeing 787-8 business class from Toronto to Miami. After crossing the Atlantic in Air Canada’s Boeing 777-300ER business class, I tried to come into this flight with reasonable expectations. To my surprise, I was blown away.
Did I mistakenly end up on Qatar Airways?! This is hands down the best 2.5 hour flight one could possibly take within North America.
Air Canada’s intimate 787-8 business class cabin
Let’s start with the hard product. Air Canada’s Boeing 787-8s have a small business class cabin, with just 20 seats. Much like on the last flight, these were reverse herringbone seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.
There’s something in general that’s nicer about the more intimate cabin, since there are only half as many business class seats. Furthermore, there are no overhead bins in most of the center section, giving the cabin a more spacious feel.
This is a fantastic hard product, especially for such a short flight within North America. However, that’s not what impressed me most…
Air Canada’s amazing service on a 2.5 hour flight
Air Canada operates a lot of wide body jets to South Florida (Miami and Fort Lauderdale) in winter. That reflects that Canadians want to travel somewhere warm in winter, and long haul demand in other markets is more limited than in summer, so the airline has some spare jets.
My expectation was that this flight would have a great hard product but a soft product that wasn’t too exciting. For example, I fly American wide bodies all the time from Miami to Dallas, and while it’s great to have a flat bed, you don’t even get a pillow or blanket.
Well, this is an area where Air Canada rocks. Even though this flight is only 2.5 hours (a little less, actually) and Toronto to Miami isn’t typically marketed as a premium route for service purposes, Air Canada offers a much expanded service when the plane is operated by a wide body.
Upon boarding there was proper bedding at each seat, including a great pillow, blanket, and mattress pad. There were also headphones, as well as a water bottle.
But here’s what surprised me more — there was a full menu and wine list, with “Signature Class” branding (the name of Air Canada’s long haul business class product).
So yeah, this flight more or less had the same dinner service you’d have on a long haul flight. Service began with drinks of choice, as well as mixed nuts.
Next up was the first course, consisting of a smoked salmon tartare starter, as well as a mixed salad.
Next up was the main course. There were four different options, and I selected the salmon with creamy lemon sauce, risotto, and red peppers.
Lastly there was an after dinner trolley with cheese, fruit, dessert, and liqueurs. I ordered a cheese plate as well as the dessert, which was cheesecake.
There were also espresso-based drinks of choice, though I couldn’t bring myself to order anything else.
The crew on this sector was also quite good. They weren’t anything over the top, but they were friendly and seemed to enjoy their jobs, which is about all one can hope for within North America.
Not that there was much time to relax after the meal service, but I managed to recline my seat into bed mode briefly, and watch a couple of TV shows (Air Canada has an excellent entertainment selection).
All too soon we were already landing in Miami…
I had a phenomenal Air Canada Boeing 787 business class flight from Toronto to Miami. While I knew my flight would feature a flat bed, it’s the soft product that blew me away. On this 2.5 hour flight there was full bedding, proper headphones, and the same multi-course meal you’d get on a long haul flight.
While quite a few airlines in North America operate wide body planes on shorter flights, typically the soft product isn’t differentiated. That’s not the case at Air Canada, as the airline offers a top notch experience on these planes.
I’d ask if anyone can think of a better experience within North America on a flight of this length, but I already know the answer — nope, it doesn’t get better than this. If you have the chance to fly Air Canada on a route like this, I can’t recommend it enough. Very well done, Air Canada!
What do you make of Air Canada’s service on these short routes to Florida?