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Flying Business-class With Air Canada. Worth it?

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Article author: michael
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I’ve flown to a few countries over the years, but I’m by no means a frequent flyer. I don’t travel for work, so only I travel maybe once a year at most if I can afford it, and generally don’t travel every single year.

For the most part when flying, I fly economy, as that’s all I can realistically afford. A few times though I decided to splurge a bit on the flights, as I wanted to see what the other fare classes were like. In more recent years, I’ve tried premium economy with Air Canada, Delta, and Air France. I’ll probably write about those experiences in another post in the future.

For this post though, I wanted to focus on my experience flying Business class, which I’ve only done twice, and only with Air Canada. So I have no frame of reference for Business class outside of flying with Air Canada, and even then, it’s a limited experience. But it’s enough that I saw some changes, not for the better, over the years.


In 2019, I decided to splurge on a trip to Vietnam and Thailand, and decided to fly business class to South East Asia. I only did business class on the way there however, with my return flight(s) booked in premium economy fare. I wanted to do business both ways, but it was just too expensive for my poor ass!

The Hard Product

The “hard product” refers to the physical product you get when flying. For example, the seat, the food, the entertainment, etc. The “soft product” on the other hand refers to the service you get from the flight attendants, the check-in staff, etc.

For this trip, I had 3 flights:

  • Montreal to Toronto (Airbus A320-200)
  • Toronto to Hong Kong (Boeing 777-200LR)
  • Hong Kong to Hanoi (Airbus A330-300)

The seats on the 1st (Airbus A320-200) and 3rd (Airbus A330-300) flights were quite enjoyable. My 2nd flight (Boeing 777-200LR) however, is what I’ll focus on since it was the longest flight, with lie-flat seats, and the one I spent the most time in.

The Suite

Now of course I’d seen what the seats in various business class planes look like before, but this was my first time actually experiencing one.

As I noted above, for the main flight, I was in a Boeing 777-200LR (77L), which has a 1-2-1 seat configuration. This means that each row has 4 seats, with 1 seat on each side of the plane, and 2 seats in the middle. The seats on the sides are angled towards the windows, while the seats in the middle are angled towards each other.

I was travelling alone on this flight, so I chose seat 7A, which I’ve circled in the seat layout image below. Seat 7A is a window seat, but also has direct aisle access, which is great. If you’re travelling solo, I’d recommend choosing a window seat, as it provides more privacy. If you’re travelling with someone, then I’d recommend choosing the middle seats, as they’re angled towards each other, and you can easily chat with your travel companion.

Air Canada Business Class cabin

Boeing 777-200LR Business Class layout

The seats in the business section here are individual suites, with lie-flat seats. The actual suites don’t have doors like on some other airlines. They do kind of have a privacy divider that you can raise, but it only goes up about half way, and it’s more of an arm-rest than divider. That said, the way the seats are angled provides decent privacy.

When I got to my seat, there were a few pillows, a nice blanket, some slippers, several bottles of water, an amenity kit in a nice faux-leather case, and a pair of noise cancelling headphones. The amenity kit had a few things in it, like a toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, hand lotion, socks, ear plugs, and a few other things.

Air Canada Business Class Suite

The touch-screen was pretty big, although I forget the exact size. It was certainly big enough for me, and made for a great movie experience while I was on-board. It also had a separate controller with LCD display, which was tucked away in a side compartment to my left. It controlled the TV, the seat, and the lighting.

You could also control the seat via another little panel to the left of the seat beneath the controller compartment.

Air Canada Business Class Suite

Air Canada Business Class Suite

And just for completeness, here’s my view to the window…

Air Canada Business Class Suite

The seat was quite comfortable, and the lie-flat bed was superb. This flight was the first time I was actually able to sleep on a plane, and thoroughly enjoy the sleep! I’m not super tall, so I had plenty of room to stretch out, but I’m not sure how it would be for someone 6’ or more though.

The Food Service

When I boarded and made my way to my seat, the flight attendant taking care over the business section came over almost right away to introduce himself.

He knelt down to a position where he was slightly below eye-level with me, greeted me by name, and made a little chit-chat. He also explained how the flight service was going to work, and that while they had a main food schedule like in economy, I could order food at any time during the flight, or even ask for a different food schedule to my liking in advance.

The Menu

The menu

The menu

The food and drink selection was quite nice. There were set courses, like the appetizer, salad, and dessert. And then several nice selections for the main courses. There was also a nice selection of wines, and other drinks.

They also had some yummy snacks, like dim sum, soup, and ice cream, that you could order at any time during the flight.


The menu

The menu

I started off with a glass of champagne, and decided to try their signature cocktail for the heck of it. Now I’m really not into hard liquor, so I found it a bit strong for my liking, but it was still pretty good.

They also brought some delicious mixed nuts with the drinks, which I ordered a second helping of because they were so good!

Champagne and cocktail


For my main course, I decided to go with the steak.

They brought over the appetizer first, which included a salad, some smoked tuna, and garlic bread. I also ordered a nice white wine to go with it.


After I finished my appetizer, they brought over my steak and mashed potatoes, and I had another glass of wine with it.

AAA tenderloin steak

Snacks and Dessert

I digested for a bit, and then the assorted cheese, fruits, and crackers were brought over. I also ordered a glass of red wine to go with it.

Dessert was brought over a little later, which was a dark chocolate fondant pie with some ice cream.

Assorted cheese, fruits, and crackers

Dark chocolate fondant

Throughout the flight I also had some of the snacks … the dim sum, the wonton soup, the tomatoes and cheese, the ice cream bar, and I think a few more servings of mixed nuts. I also had more champagne and wine.

There was also brunch however many hours later, which I didn’t bother taking pics of.

Food Review

The food, much to my surprise, was honestly spectacular. Everything, from the appetizer, to the main course, to the dessert, was fantastic.

I was expecting the food to be elevated from what’s served in economy, but it was much better than I was expecting and I was really impressed with the quality and taste of the food. That said, business class tickets aren’t cheap, so really, the food should be good. And it was.

The Soft Product

As I mentioned above, while the hard product refers to the physical product you get when flying, the soft product refers to the service you get from the flight attendants, the check-in staff, etc.

The soft product on this series of flights started from my 1st flight, which was a domestic Montreal to Toronto flight.

Through the entire trip, I was greeted by full name, which I totally wasn’t expecting. Is it necessary? Nope. But it actually really elevated the experience for me. It made it so much more personal, and really made me feel like I was a valued customer.

Once I got off my flight in Toronto, expecting to walk to my connecting gate, I was greeted by a member of the Air Canada staff, who was holding a sign with my name on it. She greeted me, and told me that as I had the signature service, I had the BMW service to drive me to my connecting gate. I thought, ok, I’m fine walking … it’s really not that far. But hey, what the heck? So I followed her down to the tar-mac, and stuck my carry-on in the trunk.

I actually wanted to relax at the lounge for a bit first, and it turned out to be just a few floors up from my gate. So after dropping me off, she gave me instructions on where to find the lounge, and off I went.

The next flight after that was the main long-haul flight, which I’ve already talked about a bit in the food service section above. But to sum up in a nutshell, it was absolutely fantastic, top-notch service.

For each flight, the flight attendants servicing the business section were very attentive, and made sure I had everything I needed. And for the entire trip, everything was done with a smile, a friendly attitude, and superior service.


Fast-forward to 2022 and I’m back in Vietnam. My flight into Vietnam actually had to be economy, as it was on a chartered flight since Vietnam was still closed to foreigners due to covid restrictions. That economy chartered flight was already expensive enough - at close to $6000 CAD one-way! Some definite extortion going on there, but I had no choice. Mind you, that price included the mandatory 5-star hotel quarantine in Hoi An for 7 days, and the covid tests, so it wasn’t just the flight. But still … ouch!

But for my flight back to Canada, regular international flights had opened back up again, so I wasn’t limited to government-chartered flights. I decided to splurge on business class again, because I thought I was special for some reason, and the cheapest option was Air Canada.

The Hard Product

For this trip, I again had 3 flights:

  • Hanoi to Tokyo (Boeing 787-9 / 789)
  • Tokyo to Vancouver (Boeing 787-9 / 789)
  • Vancouver to Montreal (Airbus A330-300)

Now this time around, I wasn’t travelling solo, so I booked us the middle seats in the business section of each of the 3 flights.

The 1st and 2nd flights were on the same equipment, a Boeing 787-9, albeit with different carriers - Japan Airlines for the 1st, Air Canada for the 2nd. The seat configuration on all 3 flights had a 1-2-1 seat configuration like on my main flight in 2019.

I’ll focus mainly on the main long-haul flight once again for the next sections though.

The Suite

Japan Airlines Business Class cabin

Boeing 787-9 Business Class layout

Despite getting middle seats side-by-side, the middle divider wasn’t movable, as you can see in the following (really blurry) pic I took. That was disappointing, as it made sharing the space impossible. Good if you’re next to a stranger, not so good if you’re with family/friends.

Air Canada Business Class Suite

The seats also felt smaller to me than on the 777 in 2019. As I noted, I’m not that tall, and yet I still felt they were a bit cramped when in the sitting, as well as lying position. So I can’t imagine how it would be for someone 6’ or more, but I suspect it wouldn’t be ideal. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a decent pic of the seats this time around, so this is the best I’ve got …

Air Canada Business Class Suite

I doubt the seats on this 787-9 were much smaller than on the 777, but it was noticeable to me. The surrounding area inside the suite also felt a bit more cramped, and I felt like I had less room to move around, so I can only conclude that business seats in the 777 have more space than the 787-9.

In fact I think, but haven’t bothered to confirm if it’s the case, that the middle seats have slightly less room than the window seats. If you happen to know for certain, please let me know in the comments at the bottom! In any case, it wasn’t terrible, just not as spacious as I was expecting.

The other things were similar to 2019, like the pillows, blanket, slippers, amenity kit, and noise cancelling headphones. The amenity kit felt a bit cheaper this time around, but still had generally the same things in it.

Air Canada Business Class Suite

Air Canada Business Class Suite

The Food & Drinks Service

I don’t recall exactly what the food selection was on this flight, as I also forgot to take pics of the menu and most of the food. 😑
Hmmm, I’m starting to see a pattern here … 🤪

What I do remember though is that while it was still decent, it didn’t compare to the quality or taste of what I experienced in 2019.

Air Canada Business Class Suite

There was also no pre-flight drink, and the food selection was much more limited, and didn’t include the “anytime” snacks like in 2019.

In fact, the food service in general didn’t even come close to what I received in 2019. Which brings me to the more important part …

The Soft Product

This was the real let down for me this time round. When you pay as much as you do for business class, you expect a certain level of service. And I didn’t get it this time around.

In 2019, I was greeted by name on every flight. The flight attendants were very attentive, and made sure I had everything I needed. And for the entire trip, everything was done with a smile, a friendly attitude, and superior service. Not so this time around.

For the food, as I explained in the 2019 food section above, the flight attendant explained how the food service worked, and that I could order food at any time during the flight, or even ask for a different food schedule to my liking in advance.

That wasn’t the case on this flight however. The flight attendant came over, asked me what I wanted, and that was it. No explanation of the food service, no explanation of the food options, no explanation of the drink options, nothing. As I noted, there was also no pre-flight drink, which for me is an immediate red flag for the service.

Further Info

If you’re planning to fly business with Air Canada, and looking to make a proper informed decision, princeoftravel.com goes into greater detail about the differences on the various Air Canada business class cabins, and with much better pics. 🤓

Also, this nerdwallet.com article offers some advice on how to get better rates on business class tickets with Air Canada.

Note that I have no affiliation with either of these sites.

My Verdict

So, in 2019, my verdict was clear as day. I was blown away by the experience, and I was hooked. I was already planning my next business-class trip! 😂
I ended up cancelling it of course, due to covid, but I was looking forward to it.

But after my 2022 business-class experience with Air Canada, I’m not so sure anymore. I’m not sure if it was just a one-off, or if it’s a sign of inferior things to come from Air Canada. I kind of chalked it up to covid still being a thing, and service was worse as a result. But then, is that really an excuse for a diminished soft product? I don’t think so.

I’m not sure when I’ll have the finances to fly business class again, but if/when I do, it’ll likely be with another airline. One that hopefully values their customers, and provides a level of service and experience expected of a “business-class” product.

Until next time,
michael 😀

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