In spring of 2018, Air Canada upgraded their business class product by introducing “Air Canada Signature Service” on select flights. Having flown on Air Canada in business class domestically and internationally in the past, I was excited to get upgraded on our flight from YYZ-YVR this past February to experience the new Signature Service product on the 777-300ER. In this post, I share information and a review of Air Canada “Signature Service” on flight AC 103 between Toronto and Vancouver.
Routes with Signature Service:
Signature Service is available on routes servicing international and North American destinations.
- International routes: It is offered exclusively when flying to and from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America on board mainline Boeing 787, 777 and 767 aircraft and our Airbus A330 aircraft.
- North America: it is offered on daily and overnight flights between Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver and Toronto; and daily flights between Montreal, New York-Newark and Vancouver and new bi-weekly flights between Toronto and Honolulu, on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting December 15. Like international destinations, it is offered exclusively on board mainline Boeing 787, 777 and 767 aircraft and our Airbus A330 aircraft.
Features and Amenities of Signature Service:
- Priority Check-In
- Access to Priority Airport Security Screening
- Priority Boarding
- Priority Baggage Handling
- Access to Priority Customs and Immigration Kiosks (where available)
- Concierge Service
- Access to the Air Canada Signature Suite Lounge (International flights only) and Maple Leaf Lounges
- BMW Chauffeur Service for International to Domestic connections
- The upgraded seat, see below for specifications:
We had checked in online already so we didn’t use the priority check-in. It is definitely nice and sleek at YYZ – Toronto Pearson Airport though.
The Lounge – Maple Leaf Lounge:
Since we were flying domestically, we did not have access to the renowned Signature Suite lounge, we only went to the Maple Leaf Lounge at YYZ. Maybe we’ve been spoiled by American Express Centurion Lounges, but other than the magazines and wine at the Maple Leaf Lounge, I’m hard-pressed to enjoy my stay there because it is always crowded and the food options are limited, never change and vary lounge-to-lounge. Most often, I use my American Express Platinum and go use that lounge for a more quiet atmosphere and better variety of food. We hate to complain about free lounge access, but feel the Maple Leaf Lounge has gone downhill in the last few years. We do hope to experience the Signature Suite one day to experience the food, which we hear is phenomenal.
The boarding process went well and they use two jet bridges so that people going to the economy cabin didn’t walk through the business class cabin. We were promptly offered a newspaper and a choice of drink: water, mimosa, or champagne (which was actually Prosecco but no complaints). The drink service was actually a nice touch and I enjoyed my Prosecco as I settled into my seat. It should be noted that in the past, Air Canada only offered sparkling wine of any type on International flights in business class.
The one thing I enjoyed the most on this flight was the seat; we’re used to flying about 6 hours in First Class on Alaska Airlines to Hawaii and Florida on a 737 with a seat that reclines about 36”-41” so being on a 777 with a full lie flat fancy reverse herringbone seat was a treat and a luxury. It also made our delay bearable to be honest; a 2 hour delay goes by faster in a business class seat like this one. When you consider the reverse herringbone seat, seat controls, soft and silky linens, and large entertainment screen, it stacks up to the flights we’ve done on Cathay Pacific and EVA Air between North American and Asia. We’d flown the old 777 product that was lie flat but not as comfortable and annoying since you couldn’t see the screen very well in bed mode. This seat was a major upgrade and can see why Jason enjoyed his flights on this aircraft so much this year.
Unfortunately, it was a morning flight so only breakfast was served; those flying during lunch and dinner service will experience better food for sure. If we’ve spoken in person, you’ve heard us complain about the same omelet with the chicken sausage, and red and white blobs they’ve been serving on Air Canada for the last 5+ years and well, this was going to be an omelet flight. Thankfully, a friend of mine shared a tip about how to eat the omelet to make it more palatable; chop everything into small pieces, mix it together and eat it. We did, and it was definitely better. They do have other breakfast options, but if you’re hungry, this the only option; the pancakes and health choice (oatmeal and granola bar) are not very filling.
After the breakfast service, we were offered some hot nuts and drinks. If there is one thing Air Canada does well in the food and beverage department, it is their wine program; there is always something interesting to try that ends up being delicious and a wine that we look for on the ground. If there is one downside to Air Canada’s bar service, it’s the beer; they serve Heineken, Coors Light, and Canadian are the only beers you can get (Lager, lager, and more lager…). They offer premium beers in economy and unless you want to buy one, they will not give you one in business class. We feel that Canadian airlines, including Air Canada underestimate Canadian’s taste in beer and are missing an opportunity here; EVA Air and Cathay Pacific each worked with a craft brewery to brew their own signature craft beer for consumption only in business class.
Other than Air Canada, in the past two years, we’ve flown on the following airlines with in-flight entertainment (tablets or seat based): Emirates, Qatar Airways, Alaska Airlines, WestJet, Malaysian Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Thai Airways and in our opinions, Air Canada has one of the best curated systems out there. I like more artsy films and documentaries and have always found something to watch. We also really enjoy their Trivia Game; Jason and I play it incessantly and wonder why no one else joins in.
We’ve completed the Air Canada status challenge and have had mixed feelings about our experiences with Air Canada in general. While it was a treat to fly in Signature Service, it is very unlikely this would be our usual experience based on the routes we fly with the airline. We are definitely saving our eUpgrade credits for these types of flights though as they are every comfortable and fun.
Just this year, we’ve had to submit two mileage credit requests as we were not given the points for the fare class we booked and even when we get those points, we’re not as excited about the points redemptions options through Aeroplan and eventually the new Air Canada loyalty program that will be announced in 2020. In Canada, there isn’t a lot of competition and flying one of the 2 major carriers is more of a necessity than a choice. That being said, I’m striving for 35K status next year when my 50K expires because boarding zone 5 is not fun or fair, especially when you’re used to priority boarding on other airlines.
We are making plans to pay and book for business class fares for our annual trip this fall and Air Canada Signature Service is definitely in our top 3 options at this times. We are very impressed with Air Canada’s improvements to their hard and soft products for business class and do see value in obtaining and maintaining elite status with them even if we like other programs better.
Have you flown Air Canada? If so, what was your experience?
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