I recently had the opportunity to travel with a group of friends to Buenos Aires, Argentina. In part one of this story, I reviewed my flight to Buenos Aires. This second part will cover the return leg to North America, where I flew in Air Canada Business Class.
The flight down to Buenos Aires was quite the adventure (nearly missed connections, language barriers, difficult boarding process, etc). After a wonderful five days in Argentina and Uruguay, it was time to come home. Given the opportunity, I absolutely recommend that you visit both of these countries. I had heard wonderful things about Buenos Aires and it definitely lived up to its billing as the “Paris of South America.” The city was incredibly vibrant and we truly immersed ourselves in the culture. I found the art of the country to be particularly interesting!
For the flight home, I was able to use my United Airlines miles to book a ticket in business class on Air Canada. I had flown Air Canada long-haul previously, but never in a premium cabin. Needless to say, after a long, fun-filled trip, the upgrade was very appreciated.
To experience business class, I ended up going on a bit of an interesting routing that took longer than going more direct. My flight was from Buenos Aires (EZE) to Santiago, Chile (SCL), on to Toronto (YYZ), and finally home to Seattle (SEA).
I purposely arrived early to the airport in EZE so that I could spend some time in the lounge. On the flight down, I visited the Alaska Airlines Board Room in Seattle and the AeroMexico Salon Premier Lounge in Mexico City. Both of those were nice, apart from the wifi issues that I had experienced in Mexico City.
In Buenos Aires, I was able to visit the Star Alliance Lounge. The lounge met most of my needs (including good and reliable wireless), but it was a little bland compared to the flair of the AeroMexico lounge. I had some light snacks and a glass of wine before heading down to board my flight.
My first leg home was a relatively short two-hour flight from Buenos Aires to Santiago. The flight was operated by Air Canada, as part of their South American operations. The southbound flight originates in Toronto, stopping in Santiago before continuing onto Buenos Aires. My flight home would be the reverse route home for my Boeing 767-300ER.
Many airlines across the globe have been retrofitting winglets to their 767s, but not Air Canada. As they update their fleet with new Boeing 787 Dreamliners, the airline has been transitioning many of their 767s to their low-cost subsidiary Rouge.
Before booking my tickets, I had studied my seat options closely, which led me 8A. In business class, this aircraft was in a 1-1-1 pod-style layout, so I had easy access to the aisle while having a nice view out of the window.
The seat was roomy, comfortable, and provided ample storage for all my gear. As it is the last row of the business cabin, there was extra room beside and behind my seat to store additional items. Even if filled, the cabin felt exclusive with only 24 seats, but with only eight passengers actually flying, it felt more like a private jet.
Upon landing in Chile, I had a brief one-hour layover before re-boarding for the long-haul journey up to Toronto. Even though I didn’t step foot outside the airport, I can at least say I’ve been to Chile, right? As we started to board, it was clear that this flight would be considerably fuller. I got back to my seat 8A and prepared for the 11-hour flight.
As with the first flight, the leg to Toronto simply did not disappoint. The cabin crew were phenomenal and tended to my every need. As I was traveling by myself on the homeward trip, I really enjoyed the privacy. However, if I was traveling with a companion, I’m not so sure I would have chosen a seat on this side of the aircraft. With the pod-style layout, if I reclined at all, I could not see any other passengers, as there was a wall across the aisle (the back side of the middle seats). If traveling with a companion, I would recommend sitting on the right side of the aircraft, as there is not a wall between the middle and window pods.
Soon, it was dinner time. The first course was smoked trout followed by a very tender steak. I am a bit of a connoisseur of filet mignon, and I have to say that this cut of meat was incredible, especially true since we were travelling at 35,000 feet.
After dinner I watched a movie and laid back and caught some sleep. The pod was incredibly comfortable and reclined fully-flat. Combine the delicious dinner and the fully-flat bed and I slept like a baby — not to mention the very swanky lighting in the cabin setting the mood.
Once we landed in Toronto, I filled out the customs forms. Flying into Canada and then onto the United States, I was able to pre-clear US Customs, which was great. I did find it a little odd when I was told “welcome home” and I wasn’t even to the US yet!
After customs, I IMMEDIATELY went to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge so that I could take a shower. If you’re like me, the very first thing you want to do after a long flight is take a nice warm shower. The shower was in my own private room and had all the usual toiletries. Given that I landed at 5:00 am local time, I was a little delirious, so I had some coffee and pastries.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Spanish-speaking countries, but it was nice to be somewhere where I could easily, once again, converse with others! After spending a couple hours in the lounge, it was time for me to head down to my final flight home to Seattle.
The last leg of my journey was on an Embraer 190, which Air Canada operates as part of their mainline fleet. Again flying in business class, I had both a window and aisle seat (1-2 layout). Upon boarding, I noticed that this aircraft had seen better days.
It wasn’t in particularly poor condition, but the seats were a bit dated, and mine actually was broken and stuck in the recline position. I had a nice joke about it with the gentleman behind me who was an Air Canada very frequent flier. He told me that he was finding this to be more common and he was looking forward to fleet upgrades.
Being jet-lagged probably resulted in the long flight on the E-190 being relatively painless.
After take off, I had a croissant and a glass of orange juice and watched another movie. I did notice that the in-flight entertainment selection on the Embraer was similar to the 767 but very clearly catered to a different audience.
The flight from Santiago to Toronto had a much broader international selection (surprise, surprise), whereas the flight to Seattle had more Hollywood hits.
All-in-all, my journey from Buenos Aires to Seattle was very enjoyable thanks to a wonderful business class product on Air Canada. The flights down on AeroMexico were just fine, but they didn’t begin to compare to the Air Canada return trip.
No matter what airline or product you fly, I would absolutely recommend a trip to Buenos Aires and Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay!