AIR CANADA REVIEW BASICS:
Airline: Air Canada
Aircraft: Embraer 190
Departed: Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
Arrived: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
Stops: Non-stop flight
Class: Executive Class
Seat: 3F (window)
Length: 5.5 hours
Cheers: Cookies made fresh on the plane served with ice cream — double cool.
Jeers: Wish there were more options with the in-flight entertainment and OMG that lavatory is unreal.
Overall: I was impressed with my first Air Canada and E-190 flight.
THE FULL AIR CANADA REVIEW:
Anytime I have an opportunity to fly on an new airline or new aircraft type, I get excited. So, the fact I was flying on a new airline AND new aircraft type made me a bit giddy. I was able to fly from Toronto (YYZ) to Seattle (SEA) non-stop on an Air Canada Embraer E-190 in Executive Class and of course I wanted to write up a review. (disclaimer: The cost of the flight was covered by a TV production studio, for work not related to Air Canada or Embraer).
Since I had a premium ticket, I decided to head to the airport early to try out the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge. The lounge was very spacious, had the amenities that one would expect (including showers) and offered a comfortable atmosphere. The choices of food was a bit skimpy, but holy smokes I have never had such delicious broccoli soup.
Where the food might have been a bit lacking, it was made up for in drink choices. The Maple Leaf lounge had a nice array of hard liquor, beer and coffee choices. It was probably the most impressive drink set up I have seen in a lounge without actually having a full bar.
When it came time to board, the process went very smoothly, mostly because the flight was not very full. I was a little worried how small the E-190 overhead bins might be and since I was able to check a bag for free with my Executive ticket, I just decided to check my bag. I found it wasn’t really needed and would have had no problem putting it in the bin — oh well.
The Air Canada E-190 has a 1-2 layout in Executive class and 2-2 in economy. I was wondering how a premium seat would feel in such a small aircraft and I was actually pretty surprised. I was hoping to try sitting on the side with only one seat, but I ended up in 3F, which was a window on the 2 side. It worked out since I had no one sitting next to me.
I had plenty of leg room and seat width — even if there would had been someone next to me. I was quite impressed with the size and shape of the windows of the E-190. Height-wise they are perfectly located for my 6’1″ frame and their width makes it easy to look out.
Upon boarding I was greeted by my last name — before they even noticed I was in Executive Class. Prior to the door being closed, we were given menus to choose between chicken, salmon and veggies — I decided to go for the chicken. We left a bit late, due to the flight arriving late, but we had a short taxi and took off quickly due to having a light load. Shortly after take off, it was time to dine.
After my salad I was served pan-seared chicken in Parmesan cream sauce with seasoned mixed rice, carrots and edamame (yea I kept the menu as a souvenir). The food was decent and filling, but the best part was desert. There was a choice of oatmeal raisin or dark chocolate chip cookies that were made on board the aircraft and served with vanilla ice cream. Fresh baked cookies and ice cream while cruising at 35,000 feet is always a nice treat.
Another nice touch were the swizzle sticks served with the drinks (see last photo). It is more than just serving the sticks, but the fact that they have the maple leaf up top. This is really a lost art that one does not see much anymore. Sure, it is not a huge deal, but little details like this makes you think that the airline cares about the little details.
I test the room of a seat by being able to have a drink, a snack, writing on my laptop and being able to watch a movie. Of course having an empty seat next to me really helps, but even with a seatmate I would have been able to do everything successfully.
If you do not fly much and are only taking one long flight, the in-flight entertainment would probably work out alright. However, if you are looking for plenty of options, this one will most likely disappoint you. There were some nice selections that kept me entertained, but if I would be flying back to Toronto, I would have probably run out of things that would interest me.
I was also not too fond of the front lavatory. Well, that is probably putting it too lightly — that lavatory was the worst one I have ever been in. It had nothing to do with the upkeep, but the size. Not to go into too much detail, but for me to use the restroom I had to bend my head down and contort to make things work. If it were turbulent, I think I might have had some real issues.
I kept wanting to think of the flight as a domestic one, even though it was technically international. Looking at the E-190 as a shorter route domestic aircraft, it does pretty well. However, it did seem a bit out of place for such a long flight and really Toronto to Seattle is about the limit that the E-190 can operate.
For a shorter, domestic flight, this was a nice product and high-end experience. As an international experience, it comes up a little short. But in all honesty, this route and product should be seen as domestic. My Air Canada experience back to Seattle was leaps and bounds better than the economy red eye I took to Toronto where I had to change planes in Chicago.