My thoughts after flying Air Canada’s Boeing 767 business class

When I flew back from a wedding in Canada a few weeks ago, I used Air Canada.  I was stunned – and delighted – to find that they flew directly from Edmonton to London.  I had resigned myself to a connecting flight to Calgary.

Air Canada has never been at the cutting edge of in-flight seats or service so I wasn’t expecting much.  However, for an overnight flight, I was willing to accept whatever was on offer if it meant a direct flight.

The ticket was booked using some Avianca miles from a friend.  He had bought a lot of them in a promotion but was caught out when they devalued, so he was happy to help me out.

Avianca does not add fuel surcharges – even though Air Canada would have added them if I had redeemed via its own Aeroplan scheme – so the taxes were only around £70.  This was another reason why I was happy not to be redeeming on British Airways via Calgary.  Whilst Air Canada generally only releases two business class seats per flight, the date of the wedding was known a year in advance so I could get the seat I wanted.

Here is a stock photo of ‘International Business Class’ on the Air Canada Boeing 767-300ER:

Air Canada Boeing 767 business

The seat is a variant on the Virgin Atlantic one.  Because the 767-300 is a small plane, Air Canada is forced into an odd 1-1-1 layout with a ‘wall’ down the middle of the cabin.  You can see it to the right in the picture above.

This is a photo I took from my seat which shows what I mean – you don’t get much of a view.  Not only can you not see out of the window easily, but I had to face a plastic wall!

Air Canada Boeing 767 business class

and

Air Canada 767 business class

Regular readers of HFP will know that I don’t like reviewing overnight flights as you don’t get a proper feel for the food and service.  I didn’t eat much as it was an 8pm departure and I had already eaten in the airport and in the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge, which was better than I expected.  Edmonton also has a Plaza Premium lounge for Priority Pass holders.

Here were the notes I made at the time:

The layout is odd.  Facing away from the window and into the wall (which had some interesting stains on it) was a bit discomforting.

There were no pyjamas given out.  This would have been a nice touch for an overnight flight.

The seat felt narrow – and I am a pretty narrow guy in the first place – and short.  You can see from the photo above that there isn’t much space to move my feet.  It is not a good seat for someone who is 6’2′.

There are no good seats for couples as the main cabin photo makes clear.

They played some third-party advertising over the PA after the safety video which felt cheap.

Air Canada Boeing 767

I got the worst sleep I have had on a plane for some time – the seat really didn’t do it for me.  However, as I said originally, I wasn’t expecting much on an overnight flight anyway and after a week away from the family I was just happy to be heading back.

For what its worth, my Mum was also very unhappy about the seat and service on the British Airways Boeing 767 she took from Calgary a few days later.  Luckily this route is being upgraded to a Boeing 787-8 soon which should lead to improvements.

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Comments

  1. Hate to be that guy, but a small typo here: “I didn’t each much”

    We just flew BA to Tokyo on a 777-200 in F and it just feels unbelievably dated, even though it’s their new product. The entertainment system would have felt out of place at my grandmothers house as it was too low-tech. I hate to think how that 767 is. You know you’re in trouble when your competitors business class product is superior to your first class.

  2. Martin Deutsch says:

    I flew business with AC on an overnight flight a few years ago coming back from honeymoon in Cancun. The CUN-YYZ flight (more of a domestic F affair) was superb, but YYZ-LHR left a bit to be desired. They offered a choice of full service or a one-tray meal, so we went for the latter; when we were done, rather than clearing the trays away, they started trying to offer us drinks and snacks from the start of the full service – despite our seats being reclined and looking like we were getting ready to sleep!

    My other recollection is that they offer gate-to-gate IFE, but it’s not worth watching anything too early, because it just gets interrupted by announcements by the crew. Then again in French.

    Still, it was a good use of some Diamond Club miles!

  3. That layout just looks weird and awkward

  4. Would have been a better experience than flying BA YYC-LHR as they are have once again dropped the 787 in favour of the 767 which is still utilising the old CW seats which are no better if you are over 6′.
    Although there was the fanfare around the 787 on YYC, it really seems to be running that route, on the last 3 occasions, our nothing has been on the Dreamliner, only for it to be moved to the old 767 ahead of travel!

  5. Rob, have you ever flown Virgin Upper Class? And if so, were your impressions in any way different to your impressions of this AC flight?

    I have a (work) trip coming up with Virgin, and their hard product is essentially a flashier version of the above, which I am not expecting to particularly enjoy. (It’s only LHR-BOS though, so will at least be a short trip!).

    • Virgin upper class is the most over-rated product in the airline world imho. The 747 is better than the A340 in terms of cabin feel although the seat is the same (less crowded in the 747)

      A340 looks almost identical to Rob’s photo’s.

      Lounge at Heathrow is worth a visit, but again very gimmicky and food average, on board product horrible. Would rather fly BA club world.

    • I flew UC from LHR-BOS and back JKF-LHR this summer. I may not have much experience in club/business in the last 15 years, but I had a great time with Virgin. It’s not nearly as cramped as the photos above and the cabin crew were fantastic. I only wish that in the days when I travelled for work, they would have paid for me to go UC.

      From all the whinging on here about BA Club, I’d much prefer to stick with UC. The total cost was £500 and 80K miles and included clubhouse access at both ends, including the LHR arrivals lounge after an overnight flight, where I had a shower and breakfast before heading home.

      • It’s much better than economy, and the 747 cabin is very different from the one above, but the A340 is very much like the one above.

        The seat is a real deal-breaker for me, its either a seat or flips 180 into a bed (ie you get up and the seat goes right over), I don’t personally like to be completely flat in a plane and that’s the only option with this seat + it makes it a nightmare to go between bed and meals if you choose to do so.

        I also find the general vibe of the airline and it’s staff to be too ‘trendy’ for my liking which to me ends up with it being cheap and tacky.

        I was also very disappointed with the food in the club house given that so much attention is spent on other area’s of the clubhouse. For me I’d far rather have a nice meal pre flight than a haircut which I can get done at any time at my own convenience and not have to board an plane itchy.

  6. Down the back of the plane was different for us. We flew out to YYZ on a BA 787 in Y, and got bumped on the way back. We traveled back on an AC 767. We both agreed that the aging 767 was far more comfortable than BA’s latest plane in Y.

    • 787 Y class seems to be the most criticised aircraft in history, even more than 10 across 777s. A great pity that we will see ever more of these at the same time as the possible demise of the a380 and 747 both of which are awsome. My favoured aircraft are a380, a330 and 744. I destest the 777 in any shape or form and have yet to try 787 bit will never do so longhaul Y ig it can be avoided.

  7. I used Air Canada quite a bit, back in the good old days of BMI redemptions. Unless they’ve gone dramatically downhill, I was always impressed. If you picked the “correct” side yes you have a wall but aisle foot traffic was reduced by half. The food was always infinitely better than what BA/Virgin/AA were serving up and with really attentive service too. Also, why would you get pyjamas? It’s only business class. Aside from VS, who else issues PJs in business class these days?

    • Opposite experience here, redemptions on AC are only thing I don’t miss about BMI. Shabby planes, poor food and service and bad timekkeping were the norm. Even USAir was better imo.

    • Qatar.

  8. Swanhunter says:

    VS’s A340 have a wall too. It works quite well as there is no-one opposite to create noise and light distraction on an overnight. Not much of a fan of the seat on a day flight and the bed is ok but has its limitations.

  9. OT, but only by about 99% – I want to book some Avianca flights using Avios (MEX-PTY-RTB-MGA-MEX, next July). I called Iberia earlier and the slightly confused girl said she checked, but I’m not convinced she did as she couldn’t find one airport (despite me giving her the code) and understood “Taca Airlines” as another.

    Does anyone know of a way of checking availability of Avianca flights for Avios redemptions? There seems to be plenty of availability on their ‘LifemIles’ page.

  10. Chico Dusty says:

    ” Luckily this route is being upgraded to a Boeing 787-8 soon which should lead to improvements.”

    Do you know when? I managed to bag a few CW seats to visit family in the UK over xmas.