The Vancouver-Toronto route is one of the busiest in Canada, with 27 flights a day. Air Transat only operates one of these, and Air Canada and Westjet operate the other 26. Air Canada’s frequency and price made it an easy choice, but can it live up to its reputation?
We arrived at Vancouver just over 2 hours before our scheduled departure time and walked up to a check-in desk. Air Canada generally has short lines at Vancouver, due to an abundance of desks at the airport. Unfortunately, our check-in agent wasn’t very well trained and wasn’t able to even complete a paid upgrade to an exit row for my 6’5″ travel companion who usually needs the extra space. After that underwhelming experience, we headed through security, which was a very quick process, and a 10-minute walk took us to our gate.
About 10 minutes before our scheduled boarding time, the gate agents announced that boarding would be slightly delayed, due to the aircraft arriving late from Sydney. Also, they provided the opportunity to check any carry-on bag you pleased to your final destination for free, which I took advantage of. Around 30 minutes late, boarding started. Air Canada boards economy from the back of the plane to the front, so we were among the last to board, as we were near the front of the plane. The process was efficient, however, and boarding a fully-loaded 777 didn’t actually take that long; about 20 minutes after boarding started, we were on-board.
Seats and Entertainment
Air Canada arranges their 777s in a 3-4-3 configuration, which is becoming the norm these days. We were assigned the four-seat center section near the front of the forward economy cabin. Both economy cabins appeared the same size, so I didn’t really have a preference between the two. The 777s have plenty of legroom, at around 32 inches of pitch, with the standard 17.5 inches of seat width – more than ample for most.
The seat padding was very good, especially in comparison with past flights. This was one of Air Canada’s refitted 777s, so the plane was equipped with new, slimline seats, as well as Premium Economy, the new Reverse Herringbone seats in Business, and the new Panasonic ex3 entertainment system in all classes (more on that in a bit). The tray table was standard-sized and clean.
This flight was the LR variant of the 777-200, which is one of the longest range airliner in the world, however, it was not very popular, with only 60 built. This was the second I’d flown on – after one on Emirates a couple years ago.
The system had a large selection of games, movies, TV shows, and music to pick from, so I was never bored. The screen was touch, and quick to respond. During the flight, it was easy to get in a number of movies, ranging from comedy to dramas.
Flight and Service
During boarding, the friendly flight attendants made sure that you were comfortably settled in, and that baggage was stowed well. Then, after boarding was finished, the captain came on the PA to apologize for the delay. Air Canada Flight 34 is a flight from Sydney to Vancouver, continuing on to Toronto. Since the flight from Sydney to Vancouver is almost 15 hours, there are bound to sometimes be delays on the Vancouver – Toronto segment of the flight. After the announcement, the captain announced our flight time of five hours, and that we would be pushing back shortly.
We then proceeded to taxi to our departure runway, followed by a quick takeoff due to not needing much fuel for such a short flight (for a 777). Our climb-out was smooth, and the seatbelt sign was turned off about 5 minutes after takeoff. Once we reached cruise altitude, I checked out the lavatory, which is located at the rear of the rear economy cabin. It was spacious, with standard furnishings.
After a few minutes, the flight attendants came through the cabin with the drink service as well as buy-on-board meals. The prices were reasonable, and I ordered a pepperoni pizza, which cost about $5 and was delicious (I was too hungry to take any pictures!) The drink selection was quite large, with soft drinks, coffee, and tea available, along with some other selections.
The second drink service took place before our descent into Tonroto. This time around, I ordered a Decaf Coffee, which was high-quality for economy – it wasn’t powdered, and they offered milk, creamer, and sugar with it. It was a nice touch to set a drink service above comparable experiences.
Before I knew it, we were descending into Toronto. Just before landing, the flight attendants came through the cabin with pre-landing checks. Soon enough, we were on final to Toronto, had a smooth landing, but then followed by a lengthy taxi to our arrival gate. The flight attendants allowed Business and Premium Economy passengers to disembark first, before Economy passengers were allowed off, and it was obvious from a few faces that the extra delay was testing their patience.
Air Canada’s 777 made for a great domestic flight. I love the 777 as a plane, including its comfort and refined design. I loved Air Canada’s attention to detail and service, such as the decaf coffee, and the large movie selection. The flight attendants were very pleasant, and overall, the flight exceeded my expectations.
Featured image by Chris Lofting via Wikimedia Commons.