Air Canada, Executive First

Oct 1, 2013
2013 / October 2013

On the Ground: At Shanghai Pudong Airport Terminal 2, a large family was checking in at Air Canada’s business-class counter, but I was helped in less than five minutes. Although I had checked in online at aircanada.com, I still had to secure boarding passes at the check-in desk. I immediately went through security and exiting procedures for China and walked to the shared Star Alliance lounge; 45 minutes prior to takeoff, I went to Gate 87 for priority boarding with the other business-class passengers.

Pre-Flight: As I got myself settled and enjoyed a glass of Champagne, flight attendants took my jacket, offered newspapers and distributed the Air Canada business-class menus. Amenity kits (lip balm, socks, eye shades, lotion, toothbrush/paste and other items), a pillow and a blanket were on each seat. The friendly and charming staff took drink orders for cruising altitude, and we backed off the gate. The captain warned us of the number of planes stacked for takeoff, but the silver lining was the strong west-to-east winds that would get us into Toronto 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

In-Flight: Once the flight leveled off, the team on board Air Canada went into action and began their in-flight service. My drink was delivered with a small bowl of warm nuts that was replenished often.

Dinner consisted of an appetizer of prawns, pancetta with asparagus and a choice of four main courses: roasted lamb chops, roasted chicken breast, grilled filet of sole or stir-fried pork. I selected the lamb, which was served with a rosemary sauce, potatoes au gratin and zucchini and cherry tomatoes. This was followed by a tasty cheese course with after-dinner drinks and a pear almond tart or fruit. A fine selection of wine ranged from a Bogel Chardonnay to a Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec. The team at Air Canada has always selected in-flight wines with great care.

Once the meal service was complete, I worked on my laptop for about an hour and watched two movies during dinner and after. The entertainment system offers a wide variety of movies from current releases to classics as well as a host of TV programming and music.

Finally, I was ready to take advantage of the Air Canada business-class flat-bed seat and was impressed with the roominess once the seat was fully deployed as a bed. I slept for at least six hours and awoke an hour and a half before landing at Toronto, in time for the full breakfast service of a capsicum omelet with potatoes, chicken sausage and sautéed spinach. This came with all the regular items such as croissants, banana muffins, fruit, yogurt and juice. A host of items are available during the flight, including hot noodle soup, hot sandwiches, squash salad, dim sum, ice cream and a selection of snacks.

Once you deplane in Toronto, it’s easy to find your connection to the United States by following the purple walls. Global Entry makes this even simpler. Air Canada has a transiting lounge with drinks, a buffet, reading materials and plenty of seating. My connection was in a couple of hours, so I was able to catch up on emails and complete this review. In less than an hour, I was in Philadelphia.

The Experience: Air Canada provides a seamless connection and ease for U.S. travelers to Asia (I also flew Air Canada on my westward journey to Hong Kong). The Toronto airport is wellorganized and makes it easy to connect to your flight to any Air Canada gateway in the United States.

GT CHECKLIST

  • Less than 10 minutes for check-in
  • Friendly and helpful agents
  • Priority tagged bags
  • Airport lounge
  • Complimentary in-lounge food
  • Priority boarding
  • Helpful and courteous flight attendants
  • Pre-flight beverage service
  • Pre-flight newspapers and magazines
  • Extensive on-demand menu
  • Self-serve in-flight pantry
  • Amenity kits
  • Slippers
  • Lie-flat seat/bed
  • Mattress and comforter
  • In-flight menu with three entrée choices
  • Top-shelf wines and liquors

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