Air Canada 787 Business Class: An Astonishingly Good Flight

Air Canada 787 Business Class: An Astonishingly Good Flight

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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.

Air Canada 787 business class cabin

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.

Air Canada 787 business class cabin

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 787 business class seats

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.

Air Canada business class bedding
Air Canada business class headphones

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).

Air Canada business class menu

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.

Air Canada business class dinner service

Next up was the first course, consisting of a smoked salmon tartare starter, as well as a mixed salad.

Air Canada business class dinner service

Next up was the main course. There were four different options, and I selected the salmon with creamy lemon sauce, risotto, and red peppers.

Air Canada business class dinner service

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.

Air Canada business class dinner service

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).

Air Canada 787 business class bed
Air Canada business class entertainment selection

All too soon we were already landing in Miami…

Map enroute from Toronto to Miami

Bottom line

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?

Conversations (35)
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  1. Don Guest

    Thank you so much your review is very inspiring!. I will have same experience!

  2. Dan Guest

    I took roughly 130 AC domestic flights last year with around 90% in business and I agree, AC has the best domestic soft product offering in North America and is the most consistent.

    Sure not every flight is amazing and many people will have negative things to say, but in having taken a high volume of flights with them as well as many in Delta First and United Business on domestic routes, AC is by...

    I took roughly 130 AC domestic flights last year with around 90% in business and I agree, AC has the best domestic soft product offering in North America and is the most consistent.

    Sure not every flight is amazing and many people will have negative things to say, but in having taken a high volume of flights with them as well as many in Delta First and United Business on domestic routes, AC is by far a league above with the soft product.

    Hot breakfast on a hour flight? No problem. While I enjoy Deltas hard product and their service is generally very good, their food options are woeful compared to AC and somehow I'm always left disappointed by United.

    And at the end of the day, I found AC the most consistent with service and product.

  3. Sean Guest

    I'm a big fan of the domestic and trans-border widebody service from Air Canada. Being based in YYZ, can generally find them to YVR, YYC, MIA, FLL, SFO and LAX. The only real difference between domestic/transborder and international is that on international flights you get the nicer amenity kit and the wine is generally a little nicer. But otherwise it's incredible to get the same service on a 2.5 hour flight as a 12.5 hour flight.

  4. Wendyonthesouthcoast Guest

    But never fly in economy....London to Toronto, 2 hours before we even got a bottle of water (with dinner) & the drinks trolley turned up after we had eaten so I wouldn't use Air Canada again even for Business!

  5. Zach Guest

    A little secret about your different experiences on the last two AC flights… Almost all AC crew will be nice and welcoming like you experienced on your flight to Miami. However, when you experience rude, indifferent, and unapproachable staff… You can almost guarantee they are a Montreal based crew lol.. Quebec based AC staff undo all the hard work Aeroplan does to build loyalty lol

    1. Dan Guest

      Unless you speak French then you get looked after amazingly, regardless of status.

  6. Bennett D Guest

    You must have been paid and astonishing amount of money to make that statement. Did you sit in seat 5A or 5k without a window?
    What international airline sells a business class seat without a window? My recent January 3rd flight from Rome to Toronto on a 787-800 aircraft was the worst business class seat I have ever purchased in 80+ years of flying.

    1. Canadian Platinum Guest

      You should always use Seat Guru before you choose your seat. The only time I didn't, I selected a seat on a Dash 8 without a window. Lesson learned. Thankfully it was only a 20 minute flight gate to gate.

    2. Nb Guest

      Seat guru is outdated, it still shows A380 for AF

    3. GBOAC Diamond

      While a window is important to both me and obviously you, the fact that a vast majority of passengers prefer keeping the window shades down during the entire flight suggests to me that the presence or absence of a window make no difference to most passengers:-(

  7. Humayun Kabir Guest

    When compared to BusinessClass facilities, I as a frequent flyer long distance between Canada and South East Asia, would say that Air Canada has a huge job at hand to match any airlines on REAL long distance flights. It’s crews too need an solid service culture training and customer friendly attitude. Etihad, Turkish, Qatar are but a few that are worth following, to begin with. This short haul experience is a good start though.

  8. Mike Hornett Guest

    Must admit I have travelled with Air Canada only one and I can tell you my experience was not good, in fact by choice I will never fly with them again. Food was disgusting and Gluten free literally non existent. Terrible experience.

  9. HCoronado Guest

    Just a reflection of how civilized Canadians are.

  10. Sainnt Guest

    This was a fluke. I flew the Air Canada 787 from Toronto to Bogotá, a nearly 6 hour flight, and the only good thing about the flight was the hard product.
    My suspicion is that this was a last minute equipment change, and the aircraft was already loaded so they went with it. I hope I'm wrong, and if I am, I'll give the Toronto to Bogotá flight another chance in the future.

  11. bleus Guest

    FYI, the 3-hour Montreal-Ft Lauderdale A330 flights also have Air Canada Signature Class service. Some amazing Aeroplan point redemptions to be had on these routes.

  12. Alvin | YTHK Diamond

    I'm struggling to see whether some of the longhaul bedding (exclusively available on widebodies as per the post...?) is a bug or a feature. Assuming you're on a 787 and get swapped to an A220, that must feel like even more of a downgrade...

    1. GBOAC Diamond

      You are spot on. I have an upcoming SFO YYZ flight originally scheduled on a 787 that got downgauged to 737 and I am quite disappointed

  13. GBOAC Diamond

    I flew AC from YYZ to SFO three times in 2019 (in the before times) in J in a 787-800, a 787-900, and a 777-300. The hard product was essentially the same in all three planes -- I preferred the -900 slightly bigger cabin than Ben's.
    This is a longer flight but had the same soft product as Ben's flight. And I've found the crew friendly and engaging. In fact the service manager on...

    I flew AC from YYZ to SFO three times in 2019 (in the before times) in J in a 787-800, a 787-900, and a 777-300. The hard product was essentially the same in all three planes -- I preferred the -900 slightly bigger cabin than Ben's.
    This is a longer flight but had the same soft product as Ben's flight. And I've found the crew friendly and engaging. In fact the service manager on my first flight showed me the (flight) crew rest area above the cabin just behind the galley and he invited into the cockpit once we had landed and were deplaning.

    I'm curious what the cabin service is like on domestic wide body flights. I'm hoping someone from Canada can fill us in on that.

    1. foboscan New Member

      The domestic wide body service and food are identical to US/Caribbean flights.

    2. GBOAC Diamond

      @foboscan:
      Thanks for the clarification. Much appreciated.

    3. GBOAC Diamond

      Thanks foboscan for the clarification. Much appreciated.

    4. --- Guest

      Pre-COVID, SFO-YYZ, LAX-YYZ, and YVR-YYZ we're part of Air Canada's North America Signature Service. They advertised that it would be flown with wide-bodies and have elevated service akin to (but not exactly the same as) long-haul Signature Service.

      I don't think that has returned though; SFO-YYZ is now flown with a mix of 737s and 787s...

  14. Roundtree New Member

    Thanks for the review. I personally don’t get value from a pillow and blanket on a short flight like this. I typically just stuff them in the overhead bin to free up space. The good food on the other hand-that matters a lot to me. I’ve never flown AC but now will look to.

  15. Canadian Platinum Guest

    Enjoyed reading this review and it matches my experience and expectations of Air Canada.
    I have flown AC Business class domestically, within North America and internationally for the past 30 plus years and I have never had a bad experience.
    I’ll be flying Emirates later this year from JFK to Dubai (90000 Aeroplan miles one way in Business) and it will be interesting to see if an ME airline is (much) better than AC.

    1. Andrew Diamond

      Service wise? No. AC is among the best.

      Hard product depends on what you get. I was unfortunate to get an EK 777 business class instead of A380 from SFO->DXB. I had some dude standing on top of me while waiting for the restroom because there's no good place in the galley. He had to stand in front of my TV. It was insane. No rest the entire 16 hour flight.

      I can't believe...

      Service wise? No. AC is among the best.

      Hard product depends on what you get. I was unfortunate to get an EK 777 business class instead of A380 from SFO->DXB. I had some dude standing on top of me while waiting for the restroom because there's no good place in the galley. He had to stand in front of my TV. It was insane. No rest the entire 16 hour flight.

      I can't believe i actually considered dropping $5k to pay for an upgrade to first on the return, just to get away from the sadness that is the EK 777 J experience. Verify your craft first!

  16. Howard Guest

    I love your airplane reviews but one thing I would like to see you do more of and it would be easy is to tell us what the food and alcohol options are on a flight- not just what you chose. You could either just write a sentence or 2 or post the menu. We are like to eat and drink different things. Looking forward to more reviews!

  17. Mike O. Guest

    I wonder what they had in Economy.

    Years ago, PR had service between YVR-LAS to serve the Filipino diaspora on the A340. I doubt that service will ever return (well the YVR-LAS portion at least; I won't be surprised if LAS returns as a non-stop).

    https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=954145

  18. Eli Guest

    Yoy I love this, I wish AA would at least give me a pillow and blanket when I fly from JFK MIA on the 777

  19. Alec-14 New Member

    Looks better than any international Polaris flight I’ve taken

    1. NFSF Diamond

      Polaris is a great hard product, but man does the crappy food (and limited drink selection) really bring it down.

    2. Steven E Guest

      Absolutely agree - internationally appalling I’d never fly them again !!!

    3. Zach B Guest

      I remember a friend comparing United catering to hospital, which oooof.

    4. Rubondese Guest

      Catering is fine. It’s the attitudes of some FAs that need to go. But hard to blame UA. The real culprit is shitty culture in the United States.

    5. UA-NYC Guest

      Polaris is a mediocre hard product IMO. Mostly inferior to any standard reverse herringbone seat, which is always more spacious. Only “good” Polaris seats are the true window ones. Angled seats lack any privacy whatsoever.

  20. Willem Guest

    Was on a 787-8 from both Dublin to Toronto and Toronto onwards to SFO, the 20 seats is great, but it's harder to end up in the middle of the cabin (my preference) away from potential galley noise.

    The meal you got to Miami is exactly the same as what I got to San Francisco, interestingly enough!

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Canadian Platinum Guest

Enjoyed reading this review and it matches my experience and expectations of Air Canada. I have flown AC Business class domestically, within North America and internationally for the past 30 plus years and I have never had a bad experience. I’ll be flying Emirates later this year from JFK to Dubai (90000 Aeroplan miles one way in Business) and it will be interesting to see if an ME airline is (much) better than AC.

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Alec-14 New Member

Looks better than any international Polaris flight I’ve taken

2
foboscan New Member

The domestic wide body service and food are identical to US/Caribbean flights.

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