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.

Oh here is my Air Canada E-190 leaving Toronto. You true airline geeks will know that is a lie. This is actually an Air Canada E-190 I caught while in Montreal -- there were no good shots of mine at Toronto.

Oh here is my Air Canada E-190 leaving Toronto. You true airline geeks will know that is a lie. This is actually an Air Canada E-190 I caught while in Montreal -- there were no good shots of mine at Toronto, so I am kind of cheating here.


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.

Air Canada's E-190 has a 2:1 layout in Executive Class. As an extra bonus, I had no one sitting next to me.

Air Canada's E-190 has a 2:1 layout in Executive Class. As an extra bonus, I had no one sitting next to me.

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.

The salad. I probably should have waited for my bread (which did some shortly), but I was too hungry so I took the photo and ate.

The salad. I probably should have waited for my bread (which did come shortly), but I was too hungry so I took the photo and ate.

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 wish there were a few more options with the entertainment system.

I wish there were a few more options with the entertainment system.

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.

Swizzle sticks totally rock. So do cookies and ice cream.

Swizzle sticks totally rock. So do cookies and ice cream.

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.


EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
Classic Air Cal Commercial – You’re Going to Like Their Style

I was on the same flight recently. What struck me was the teeny-tiny overhead bin in Executive Class on the left side–barely big enough for large water bottles (a bit of an exaggeration but not much). The full size bins are also a lot smaller than any airplane with a 2×3 or 3×3 configuration.

Toronto-SEA also is at the extreme range of the airplane. But speaking of Lavs, I heard before I left Toronto that on this long trip, sometimes the Lavs fill up and the plane has to make a potty stop in Montana to empty them. AC ground personnel at the airport confirmed this to me. Never had heard of a tech stop for potty dumps before.


I have been on essentially the same product, but a JetBlue E190 instead of aircanada. Ive ende up on it instead of their A320 on routes like buf-JFK and PBI-JFK. I actually enjoy it a lot. There are no middle seats, and like you said, it fills up fast and is ready to go. However, I never got fresh cookies!

Looking into flights to MUC from SAT one of the legs I saw on CO/UA’s site was a IAH-YYZ in a ERJ-145. That’s a 3 hour leg in a teeny tiny cabin. No thanks.

Although I do like the 1×2 cabin..

Funny you should take and review this particular flight. As with others, I too have flown AC’s Tononto-Seattle route in the front as recently as mid December. I agree that the E-190 is a real stretch for this “International” route. In my experience, AC Makes up for the long flight in domestic metal with excellent service. My flight had all but one of the Executive Class seats filled, yet everyone was thoroughly comfortable for the 5+ hours. The benefits of a direct flight certainly out weigh the amenities missing on such a small airplane. If AC had more traffic between Toronto and Seattle, of course they would serve it with an A319 or A320. I have to agree that the front end head was more than cramped, but I’ve seen worse on commuter sized planes. I too had not heard of Potty Stops and think it is hilarious. Not sure if it is true as unplanned stops tend to be VERY expensive. OTOH, the E190 is a small plane and a 5+ hour flight is pushing the envelope in a more ways than just fuel. The airplane works for AC on this route because they enjoy countless diversion opportunities along the entire route. The occasional diversion for weather, fuel or even a Potty Break is still ess expensive than operating a much larger aircraft with light PAX loads. Nice review!!

Fresh cookies!!!! You must be talking about flying 20 years ago! I too like the E170/E190 and try to choose this aircraft for my business trips. Ditto on the window height. I ditto Yankees268 comments as well.

Carter B

Ive heard good thing about Air Canada. Going to have to try them out one of these days. Those cookies look good!!

I’ve flown both E70s and E90s (Frontier/RJET in both cases) and like those planes. As for bag space, just put your roller bag in long-ways (wheels toward the nose or tail of the aircraft) and it fits just fine. IMO the experience is every bit as comfortable as with an Airbus (handily beating CRJs and even ecliping 737s/757s I’ve flown on) though I’ve never had to use the lav.

Does anyone remember when Alaska partnered with Thai and flew to Toronto on an A310? Managed to do that on Alaska award redemption…..very cool experience….

@Tony – wise choice. I used to work on the ERJ145 and at 5’10 you have a wall one side of your head and the overhead locker on the other, its like having tunnel vision.. the aircraft can be fun when it is quiet, but a full flight – hell! The seats are too small to accomodate most people so they spill into the aisle. And I dread to think what would happen when it comes to an evac. I used to have to ‘make’ my crew seat at the back of the aircraft and there was many occasion it would jam and we’d hit the runway with me still standing! Not forgetting the time I got my seat up early only to find a passenger still in the toilet, he got a shock when he opened the door and there was a seat blocking his exit!…

I just flew on that plane (AC) from Calgary to Ottawa. It was one of the worst planes I have ever flown on in terms of comfort. There was very little leg room and the seats had been worn out to the point that it felt like I was sitting on a wooden bench. Won’t be booking air canada again.

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Jim Adams

Great review David! Air Canada still flies a E-190 on this route. In fact, I’m booked on it (economy class via “classic” Aeroplan redemption) on Feb 19th to come to AGF15. I’m in seat 27F currently but I might upgrade to 13F; it’s one of AC’s “preferred” economy seats with 4″ more legroom (though definitely not their “premium economy” product that I flew once on CPH-YYZ).

My trip is kind of like yours, but in reverse. For my return, I booked the redeye SEA-ORD on the Sunday evening (but business class in this case, again via a “classic” Aeroplan redemption) on a UA B737-900; I’m hoping I’ll be able to get a little bit of sleep in seat 4F. That’ll be followed by an early morning ORD-YYZ connection, which will essentially let me experience the same as you did because it’s operated by an Air Canada Express E-175 and my 2F business class seat is part of the aforementioned redemption.

No lounge access on my outbound 18:55 departure but I’ll probably be in a rush at the airport after work that day and after passing through U.S. pre-clearance anyway. I am, however, planning on visiting the United lounge in Seattle prior to my SEA-ORD-YYZ return.

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