For the final segment of my review trip, I flew Air Canada’s Boeing 787-8 Business Class from Toronto to Miami. Having flown across the Atlantic on an Air Canada Business Class Boeing 777-300ER, I tried to enter this flight with reasonable expectations. To my surprise, I was delighted.
Did I end up on Qatar Airways by mistake?! This is the best 2.5 hour flight to fly within North America.
An intimate Air Canada 787-8 business class cabin
Let’s start with the hard product. Air Canada’s Boeing 787-8 has a small business class cabin with only 20 seats. Similar to the last flight, these were inverted herringbone seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.
There’s something generally nicer about a more intimate cabin, since there are only half the number of seats in business class. Furthermore, there is no overhead bin in most of the center section, giving the cabin a more spacious feel.
This is a fantastically heavy product, especially for such a short flight within North America. However, that’s not what impressed me the most…
Amazing Air Canada service on a 2.5 hour flight
Air Canada operates many widebody jets to South Florida (Miami and Fort Lauderdale) in the winter. This reflects that Canadians want to travel somewhere warm in the winter, and demand for long-haul flights in other markets is more limited than in the summer, so the airline has few spare planes.
I expected this flight to have a great firm product, but a soft product that wasn’t too exciting. For example, I fly American widebody from Miami to Dallas all the time, and while it’s great to have a flat bed, you don’t even get a pillow or blanket.
Well, this is an area where Air Canada performs brilliantly. Although this flight is only 2.5 hours (a little less, actually) and Toronto to Miami is not usually advertised as a premium route for service purposes, Air Canada offers a much more extended service when the aircraft is operated in a wide body.
Upon boarding, each seat was provided with appropriate bedding, including a great pillow, blanket and mattress pad. There were headphones as well as a bottle of water.
But here’s what surprised me more — there was a full menu and wine list, branded “Signature Class” (the name of Air Canada’s long-haul business class product).
So yes, this flight had more or less the same dinner service you would have on a long haul flight. The service started with drinks of choice as well as mixed nuts.
This was followed by the first course, which consisted of a smoked salmon tartar appetizer and a mixed salad.
Next was the main course. There were four different options, and I chose the salmon with creamy lemon sauce, risotto and red pepper.
At the end, there was an after-dinner cart with cheese, fruit, dessert and liqueurs. I ordered a cheese plate as well as dessert, which was a cheesecake.
There was also an espresso-based drink of choice, though I couldn’t bring myself to order anything else.
The crew on this sector was also quite good. They weren’t over the top, but they were friendly and seemed to enjoy their jobs, which is about all you can hope for in North America.
There wasn’t much time to relax after the meal, but I was able to recline my seat in the bed for a while and watch a few TV shows (Air Canada has a great selection of entertainment).
Too soon we already landed in Miami…
I had a phenomenal flight on an Air Canada Boeing 787 business class from Toronto to Miami. Even though I knew my flight would have a flat bed, the soft product blew me away. On this 2.5 hour flight there were full bedding, matching headphones and the same multi-course meal you would get on a long flight.
While quite a few airlines in North America use wide-body aircraft on short-haul flights, the soft product is typically no different. This is not the case with Air Canada, as the airline offers a premium experience on these aircraft.
I would ask if anyone could think of a better experience in North America on a flight of this length, but I already know the answer — no, it doesn’t get any better than this. If you have the opportunity to fly Air Canada on a route like this, I can’t recommend it enough. Very good, Air Canada!
What do you think of Air Canada’s service on these short routes to Florida?