Review: Air Canada Business Class 787 (YYZ-MIA)

Review: Air Canada Business Class 787 (YYZ-MIA)

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FROM: YYZ
TO: MIA
CABIN: Business
DATE: January 2023
REVIEW RATING:
SEAT MAP: 787-8
BEN SAYS: Air Canada offers an amazing short haul Boeing 787 business class experience, with full bedding and a multi-course meal service. Add in a friendly crew, and this was a great flight.
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For the last segment of my whirlwind Aeroplan adventure, I flew Air Canada’s Boeing 787-8 business class from Toronto to Miami. Fortunately this trip ended on a high note, as this flight was spectacular, by far the best 2.5 hour flight I’ve ever had within North America.

Getting to fly a wide body on flights within North America is always a treat, but Air Canada takes it to the next level by offering a similar soft product to what you’d get when traveling long haul. Furthermore, unlike on my long haul flight, the crew on this sector was friendly and professional.

How I booked my Air Canada business class ticket

I booked my Air Canada business class ticket using Aeroplan points. Specifically, for the return portion of my ticket I redeemed 87,500 Air Canada Aeroplan points to fly from Hanoi to Frankfurt to Toronto to Miami, all in business class (I’ve already reviewed the Bamboo Airways Boeing 787 and Air Canada Boeing 777 experiences).

For more details on how I booked that, see my post about how to redeem Aeroplan points like a pro. Aeroplan points are easy to come by, as the program is transfer partners with Amex Membership RewardsCapital One, and Chase Ultimate Rewards. On top of that, there’s the Aeroplan® Credit Card (review) in the United States, which is phenomenal.

Specific to the Air Canada portion of my trip, here are the flights I took:

1/10 AC841 Frankfurt to Toronto departing 9:45AM arriving 12:30PM
1/10 AC1201 Toronto to Miami departing 6:30PM arriving 9:40PM

Air Canada business class lounge & boarding

In the last installment I reviewed the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto, located in the transborder area of Terminal 1. It offered a pretty good experience for a lounge specifically for North America flight, with a particularly good selection of food and drinks.

Boarding was scheduled for 5:50PM, 40 minutes before departure. Sure enough, that’s exactly when boarding started, with business class being invited to board first.

Air Canada boarding gate Toronto Airport

Air Canada 787 business class cabin & seats

Air Canada has great product consistency throughout its wide body fleet, as you’ll find the same Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seats on all planes. Air Canada’s Boeing 787-8s have a total of 20 business class seats, spread across five rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. This takes up the entire space between doors one and two.

The Boeing 787-8 might just have my overall favorite Air Canada business class cabin. I appreciate the intimate feel of the business class cabin, with so few seats. On top of that, I like how the second half of the cabin doesn’t have overhead bins in the center section, which makes the cabin feel more spacious. Combined with the typical Dreamliner touches, it’s a great cabin.

Air Canada Boeing 787 business class cabin
Air Canada business class cabin Boeing 787

If you’re traveling with someone, you may prefer to sit in the center section. However, be aware that there are dividers between the center seats, and they can’t be lowered on the 777s and 787s (meanwhile they can be lowered on the A330s).

Air Canada business class seats Boeing 787

I assigned myself seat 5A, the window seat on the left side in the last row. Yes, this seat is totally missing a window, so that’s something to be aware of. However, on this late evening departure in the dark, that didn’t bother me. Seat 4A was also empty, so I could have moved forward if I wanted to. Personally I preferred having the seat in front of me and the seats across from me empty.

Air Canada business class seat Boeing 787
Air Canada business class seat Boeing 787

As is standard with these reverse herringbone seats, there was a console to the side of the seat that could be opened. Not only could it be used for storage, but it also contained the entertainment controller, USB-A outlet, AC power outlet, and plug for headphones. Immediately underneath that was a monitor for controlling seat functions.

Air Canada business class seat console
Air Canada business class seat storage
Air Canada business class seat controls

The tray table extended from underneath the fixed personal monitor.

Air Canada business class seat tray table

The seat had a footwell, which felt a little tighter than on the 777, but that’s to be expected given that the fuselage of the 787 isn’t quite as wide.

Air Canada business class seat footwell

There was also an aisle-side armrest, which could be raised and lowered, and which had an exposed storage area.

Air Canada business class seat armrest

Lastly, as you’ll find pretty consistently on Air Canada, there were individual air nozzles.

Air Canada Boeing 787 individual air nozzles

This is a solid business class product, especially when you consider I was just flying 2.5 hours from Toronto to Miami.

Air Canada business class amenities

What delighted me most about this experience is that Air Canada largely offers its long haul business class experience on shorter flights operated by wide body aircraft. For example, my seat had the full bedding set, including a pillow, blanket, and mattress pod.

I’ve taken a countless number of American wide body flights from Miami to Dallas and New York, and it’s always a bit disappointing how there’s no bedding, so you can’t really enjoy the spaciousness of the seat. I really love that Air Canada does this right.

Air Canada business class bedding

On top of that, there were the same headphones as on the long haul flight.

Air Canada business class headphones

There was also a bottle of water waiting at each seat.

Air Canada business class bottled water

Menus and the wine list were distributed during boarding.

Air Canada business class menu & wine list

The only thing that was different than on the long haul flight is that there was no amenity kit, which is fair enough.

Air Canada business class entertainment & Wi-Fi

Air Canada excels when it comes to entertainment, and has a huge library of movies and TV shows. While the selection was the same as on my previous flight (operated by a Boeing 777), it’s interesting that the interface looked different.

The way I view it, the previous Boeing 777 flight had a much more modern interface than on the Boeing 787, which is surprising (since the 787 is a much newer plane). Is there something I’m missing, or is my impression of what’s “modern” just off?

Anyway, the selection of movies and TV shows was huge, and I had no problem staying entertained.

Air Canada business class entertainment selection
Air Canada business class entertainment selection
Air Canada business class entertainment selection
Air Canada business class entertainment selection

I also enjoyed the map feature throughout the flight.

Air Canada moving map Boeing 787
Air Canada moving map Boeing 787

Air Canada’s Boeing 787s have Wi-Fi, and specifically have Gogo 2Ku, which is quite fast. There were three different pricing plans for the Wi-Fi:

  • The Browse plan cost 9.75 CAD for the full flight, and supports light browsing, email, messaging, and social media
  • The Stream plan cost 15.50 CAD for the entire flight, and offers faster speeds that support streaming sites and browsing
  • The Ultimate plan cost 20.75 CAD and offers premium internet service that supports higher quality streaming
Air Canada Wi-Fi pricing Boeing 787
Air Canada Wi-Fi pricing Boeing 787
Air Canada Wi-Fi pricing Boeing 787

I purchased the most premium pass, and found the speeds to be excellent.

Air Canada 787 departure from Toronto

Air Canada flies a lot of wide bodies between Toronto and Florida in winter, for obvious reasons (soft demand across the Atlantic, while lots of Canadians want to enjoy the warm weather in Florida). Yet oddly this flight was empty. 14 of the 20 business class seats were taken, and I’d estimate that there were otherwise a few dozen people on the plane otherwise. There were probably 60 passengers onboard at most. Hopefully the plane was busier on the return the following morning!

At 6:20PM the main cabin door closed, and at the same time the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 2hr30min, and our anticipated early arrival in Miami.

We started our pushback at 6:25PM, and at the same time the safety video was screened. We had a roughly 15 minute taxi to the runway, and were cleared for takeoff by 6:40PM.

Air Canada business class dinner service

A full dinner service was available on this quick hop to Florida, and you can find the full menu and drink list below.

Air Canada business class menu
Air Canada business class menu
Air Canada business class drink list
Air Canada business class drink list

The seatbelt sign was turned off about 10 minutes after takeoff, at which point the crew sprung into action quickly. The curtains were immediately closed between the cabin and galleys.

Air Canada Boeing 787 business class cabin

I think there’s something to be said for how quickly after takeoff a crew can get started with service, and this crew deserves awards on that front. Warm towels were distributed 12 minutes after takeoff.

Air Canada business class warm towel

Then carts were rolled down the aisles with drinks, and I had my first drink just 14 minutes after takeoff. That has to be some sort of a record, aside from flights within the Gulf region.

To drink I ordered a glass of the sparkling wine, which was Bottega Millesimato Brut (which is quite a downgrade compared to the Laurent-Perrier on the previous segment, but still good enough). The drink was served with a ramekin of mixed nuts.

Air Canada business class dinner

35 minutes after takeoff cart were rolled down the aisles with the salad and appetizer. The appetizer consisted of smoked salmon tartare, and it was tasty. While I was also offered bread, I passed, as I had certainly eaten my fair share of carbs for the day (starting with pretzels in the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Frankfurt).

Air Canada business class dinner

The main course was served 45 minutes after takeoff. It’s pretty impressive to have four main course options. For this I selected the salmon with creamy lemon sauce, risotto, and red peppers. While the sauce was perhaps a bit overpowering, this was otherwise a great dish. I enjoyed the salmon and the risotto.

Air Canada business class dinner

Lastly, around an hour after takeoff, a trolley was rolled down the aisle with cheese, fruit, and dessert. I asked for the dessert (which was a cheesecake) and a cheese plate. Good thing I’m not lactose intolerant (most days)!

Air Canada business class dinner

What a fantastic meal for such a short flight. There’s not another 2.5 hour flight within North America where you’ll get this kind of meal service, so two thumbs up to Air Canada.

Air Canada 787 business class bed

After the meal I reclined my seat and tried to get some rest. I found the bed to be fairly comfortable. It was a bit tight around the knees, but that’s normal for reverse herringbone seats on 787s.

Air Canada business class bed Boeing 787
Air Canada business class bed Boeing 787
Air Canada business class bed Boeing 787

While I tried to get some sleep, it got really turbulent for the second half of the flight, so it was too bumpy to fall asleep. That wasn’t an issue, since I’d shortly be in my comfortable bed at home!

Air Canada 787 business class lavatory

The Air Canada Boeing 787-8 had three lavatories around business class — one at the front of the cabin, and two behind the cabin. I think the ones behind the cabin might at least partly be shared with premium economy, but there was never a wait to use the bathrooms.

The lavatories were pretty typical ones for a Dreamliner, and were modern. I also liked the wallpaper, which added some Canadian flair to the space.

Air Canada business class lavatory Boeing 787
Air Canada business class lavatory Boeing 787
Air Canada business class lavatory Boeing 787

Air Canada business class crew service

Unlike on my previous flight, the crew on this flight was great. Not only were they incredibly attentive and efficient, but they were also friendly and seemed to enjoy their jobs. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

It’s amazing how much of a difference crew attitude can make when it comes to the perception one has of a flight. A flight is just so much more enjoyable when you feel like you’re being served by people who aren’t actively unhappy to be there.

Air Canada 787 arrival in Miami

At around 8:35PM the captain announced we’d be starting our descent shortly, and should be landing in about 30 minutes. At this point the crew collected headsets (offering to replace them with disposable ones), and started to prepare the cabin for arrival.

Air Canada Boeing 787 map approaching Miami
Air Canada Boeing 787 map approaching Miami

We ended up touching down in Miami at 9:05PM. From there we had a 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we pulled in at 9:15PM, 25 minutes ahead of schedule. While I had an amazing trip, I was oh-so-excited to go home and see my family!

Bottom line

I had a phenomenal Air Canada flight from Toronto to Miami. It’s enough of a treat just to get a wide body on a short flight within North America. Air Canada really takes it to the next level, though, by offering its full premium bedding and long haul meal service on these sectors. Add in the great crew, excellent entertainment and Wi-Fi, and intimate Boeing 787 cabin, and this was a lovely flight.

This was by far the most pleasant 2.5 hour flight I’ve ever had within North America.

What do you make of Air Canada’s Boeing 787 business class?

Conversations (21)
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  1. Martin Guest

    The biz class is decent, but in no way special. I needed help but the call center did not accept calls and only had an announcement to try later. No alternative was offered. That is the reason why I won't travel with AC again. If there is a problem I need to be able to get somebody on the phone

  2. Galinka Guest

    Two hour flight and when to sleep there? a lot of things that you don’t need to use at all, but you need to pay!

  3. Derek H Guest

    Just another day in the roulette of AC service.

    One day you get the worst of possible service, the next you find you had a pleasant flight. Tune in next time to see what the luck of the draw has in store for you--but hope it isn't a long transatlantic or transpacific flight!

    But seriously, AC is so hit or miss with everything from a hard-product last minute swap, to the soft product being all over the place, to terrible food.

  4. Kair Member

    Is there any reason why Air Canada installed overhead bins on forward half of the cabin?

    1. Michael Member

      My best guess would be that the overhead bins in the front of the cabin are part of the overhead flight crew rest compartment module. I know on AA's 787s, the pilot rest compartment is in that location, and I imagine that's fairly standard.

    2. GBOAC Diamond

      @Michael: Bingo The flight crew rest compartment is located above the center overhead bins. It's accessed by steps behind a door in the center of the front galley.
      I was shown this by a very personable service manager on a 787 flight from YYZ to SFO in 2019. I flew twice more that year and all three flights had friendly crews and good service.

  5. Brad Guest

    I think it’s rich that AC charges for WiFi for business class passengers. Considering the enormous premium for “business” that extra $20 just seems rude!

  6. S Gold

    Always funny the places they have on the IFE maps. Danville? Some no-name FL town over Orlando? Columbus over Chicago and Nashville over Atlanta? I just laugh at how those places are randomly picked. This happens on a lot of airlines, not just AC.

  7. Flynn S Guest

    How nice. I usually get bait and switch from lax and sfo to yyz wherein ac sells a lie flat and equipment swaps to some narrow body. Happens on 80% of flights.

    1. EC Guest

      Really? I've never had this happen on me. In fact I've only ever had AC swap between widebodies.

  8. Canadian Platinum Guest

    Should have added that the PSP-YVR flight was in Business Class.

  9. Canadian Platinum Guest

    "There’s not another 2.5 hour flight within North America where you’ll get this kind of meal service, so two thumbs up to Air Canada".

    My wife and I flew Air Canada Max 8 from Palm Springs to Vancouver on February 16th. The inflight service was supberb. The flight attendant called us by name on every interaction.
    There was a choice of appetizers and main courses. Choice of 2 whites, 2 reds and Prosecco. The...

    "There’s not another 2.5 hour flight within North America where you’ll get this kind of meal service, so two thumbs up to Air Canada".

    My wife and I flew Air Canada Max 8 from Palm Springs to Vancouver on February 16th. The inflight service was supberb. The flight attendant called us by name on every interaction.
    There was a choice of appetizers and main courses. Choice of 2 whites, 2 reds and Prosecco. The flight attendant came by to fill up our glasses without being called. Fabulous entertainment choice. Wide and comfortable seat with good recline, seat rest and thigh support.
    It was a flawless flight of just over 2.5 hours.

  10. Tony Meola Member

    I LOVE AC but I HATE transiting through YYZ.

  11. XPL Diamond

    "Getting to fly a wide body on flights within North America is always a treat..."

    Yes, or getting a wide body at all these days. It seems that the trend even on many high volume routes is toward greater frequency of service using smaller narrow bodies vs. less frequent service using wide bodies. Presumably higher frequency is what the market want and I can't blame the airlines for giving people what they want, but I...

    "Getting to fly a wide body on flights within North America is always a treat..."

    Yes, or getting a wide body at all these days. It seems that the trend even on many high volume routes is toward greater frequency of service using smaller narrow bodies vs. less frequent service using wide bodies. Presumably higher frequency is what the market want and I can't blame the airlines for giving people what they want, but I for one much prefer wide bodies, thanks. Glad you got to ride one here, Ben.

  12. Gregsdc Member

    Anecdotal data point: I've had two wide-body flights within North America in J on AC recently, and the crews were both also terrific. From Lucky's experience on the TATL leg and the resulting comments, it seems like this is not most travelers' experience flying overseas. Pattern, or coincidence?

    1. --- Guest

      Re: lavatories behind the business cabin, they set up the curtains usually do that Business has access to one of them and Prem Econ has access to the other. (At least they did on my YYZ-TLV flight last June)

  13. DORON HOROWITZ Guest

    I have only flown AC 787's long haul. The food is surprisingly good. The seat can be a little tight, especially in the well. The crews tend to be very professional and well-trained. This is particularly noticeable on the longer ones I used to take (YYZ-TLV).

  14. BlueFreak Guest

    "Not only could it be used for storage..."

    Placard in photo: "No stowage."

    I don't think the change in letter changes the meaning?

    1. David Diamond

      While that's technically true, I've never seen it enforced by any airline, ever. Not even Japanese airlines, who tend to be very strict with rule following.

  15. GBOAC Diamond

    Ben mentions "you’ll find the same Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seats on all planes".
    Can someone share what differences there are between the Super Diamond seats on the narrower 787 and wider 777. In particular is the seat itself narrower?

    1. JetBlueFanboy Guest

      I think that, based on the pictures, the seats are the same, except for them being narrower on the 787. Note that AC's retrofitted A330's have a slightly improved version of the seat (the same "bones", but more features).
      I'm not speaking from personal experience though, I'm just saying this based on what I've heard. Maybe Lucky or another user with first-hand experience can chime in.

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Derek H Guest

Just another day in the roulette of AC service. One day you get the worst of possible service, the next you find you had a pleasant flight. Tune in next time to see what the luck of the draw has in store for you--but hope it isn't a long transatlantic or transpacific flight! But seriously, AC is so hit or miss with everything from a hard-product last minute swap, to the soft product being all over the place, to terrible food.

1
JetBlueFanboy Guest

I think that, based on the pictures, the seats are the same, except for them being narrower on the 787. Note that AC's retrofitted A330's have a slightly improved version of the seat (the same "bones", but more features). I'm not speaking from personal experience though, I'm just saying this based on what I've heard. Maybe Lucky or another user with first-hand experience can chime in.

1
S Gold

Always funny the places they have on the IFE maps. Danville? Some no-name FL town over Orlando? Columbus over Chicago and Nashville over Atlanta? I just laugh at how those places are randomly picked. This happens on a lot of airlines, not just AC.

1
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