Nick Walton discovers Air Canada business class product impresses, even on short-haul flights between Ottawa and Toronto.
National carrier Air Canada was founded in 1937 and currently operates passenger and cargo services to 182 destinations worldwide. The airline has a fleet of Airbus A330, Boeing 767, Boeing 777, and Boeing 787 wide-body jetliners on long-haul routes and uses the Airbus A320 family aircraft, including the A319, A320, and A321 variations, and Embraer E190 family aircraft on its extensive network of short-haul routes.
After painfully slow check-in process (almost entirely due to one particular staff member who becomes a point of conversation in the lounge among passengers on the same flight), I made my way to the airline’s signature Maple Leaf lounge, located adjacent to gate 19. The lounge is what you would expect in a national capital – spacious, well-lit, and modern, with views across the apron. An early morning buffet includes fruit juices and sodas, boiled eggs, toast, and cereal and many passengers make use of the hard-working coffee machine.
The boarding process was speedy and well-managed by cheerful crew (despite the early hour) who joked as they worked. The Airbus A320-200 featured 14 business class seats in a 2-2 configuration and catered to a total of seven guests on this morning hop.
Although of an older generation, my 21-1-inch wide window seat was well maintained and had everything you could want for a short-haul flight, including an 8.9-inch touch screen monitor, a pitch of 38-inches, a recline of 5-inches, a small reading lamp, and USB connectivity.
Cheerful crew welcomed guests at the door with the genuine Canadian warmth that helps set the airline apart from many North American carriers. Cabin attendants offered glasses of juice and water as passengers boarded and before long we were taxing and departing, on schedule. Service through the brief breakfast was equally cheerful and e
Not long after takeoff crew jumped into action, serving a breakfast of fresh fruit salad, cherry yoghurt, fresh croissants, a piece of moist sponge cake, and piping hot coffee. The pastries, so easy to turn stodgy, were fresh and fluffy and the salad was a symphony of seasonal flavours without that overchill you usually get with cold dishes on airplanes. I opted for more coffee as I still had a Trans-Pacific flight to follow and choose to watch my tablet rather than plug into the seat’s entertainment system.
We arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, sated, revived and five minutes ahead of schedule on what remains one of the best short-haul hops I’ve enjoyed in North America.
Air Canada Ottawa to Toronto return in business class from US$795; www.aircanada.com