An Air Canada 777-300ER being prepared for a transcontinental flight from Vancouver to Toronto
Earlier this summer, we had the opportunity to try out Air Canada’s new Signature Class cabin and lounge experiences.
Launched in June, the service is aimed squarely at the business/first class traveler, and competes quite readily with existing offerings by its North American mainline-carrier rivals.
Domestic Signature service is offered on flights between Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver to Toronto; daily flights between Montreal and New York-Newark to Vancouver; between Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto; and between Toronto and Honolulu. Internationally, it’s offered on all Air Canada flights serviced using Boeing 767, 777, and 787, as well as Airbus A330 aircraft.
The routing for my flights were SEA-YVR-YYZ-SEA. The hop from Seattle to Vancouver was in standard coach class on a venerable Bombardier Q400.
The entrance to Air Canada’s Signature Suite – Photo: Air Canada
Air Canada’s Signature Suite, its newest lounge at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), officially opened on December 1. The Signature Suite creates an environment that makes it easy to forget you’re in an airport. Those eligible to access the lounge can receive complimentary beer, wine, champagne and signature cocktails. Complimentary food will also be available; passengers will be able to dine a la carte from a menu created by Vancouver-based celebrity chef David Hawksworth.
Prior to its opening, Air Canada spared no expense as it invited select media to preview its newest premium creation. Read more to learn about the experience inside the Signature Suite.
My Ride to Montreal from Toronto – MSN 400, registration C-GHKR – Photo: Peter J.M. Harrington-Cressman
Sometimes, when you are a true aviation enthusiast, you do things that some people would consider weird or unorthodox. Maybe you are wanting to fly just to experience a certain aircraft type. Or maybe it’s a Saturday evening and you want to catch up with a buddy you haven’t seen for a long time. In my case, I had a number of Aeroplan points that were going to expire. So, I decided to use those points and fly one of my closest friends and myself from Toronto to Montreal and back again — in the same evening.
For at least the last 30-40 years, Air Canada has operated almost hourly flights, known as Rapidair, on what is an extremely busy route between two of Canada’s largest cities; Toronto (YYZ) and Montreal (YUL), which is about an hour and fifteen minute flight. The route has a lot of competition: WestJet, Porter, Air Canada, and even VIA Rail. Of course, most travelers just want the least expensive flight, with the best frequency.
As I was doing this flight on points, I had basically only Air Canada to choose from. As a general rule, I don’t like WestJet – I’ve never had a good flight with them and sometimes all the busy business traveler wants is quiet, attentive service without the comedy shtick. But I digress. What makes these Air Canada Rapidair flights interesting is that there is a wide cross-section of equipment types used on these flights – everything from Dash 8s all the way to A330s. The flight that I picked for my buddy Justen and me was Air Canada flight 834 — being operated by an Airbus A330-300.
While in Toronto, I quickly caught glimpse of a livery I was not a fan of. I wasn’t able to catch the name, but after a little research I found it to be Sunwing Airlines. It took a bit longer to actually find what their “real” livery was, since there were quite a few hodge-podge mixture of different liveries. Some examples: Viking, TUIfly, Hapag-Lloyd, Thompsonfly, Boeing Green, Euro Atlantic, did I miss any? It became obvious that this airline likes to lease planes. I actually had to go to their website to make sure what their “real” livery was and it turns out, it is the one I saw in Toronto.
With leasing out so many planes, of course they need to keep their livery simple, but this one just doesn’t work for me. I think what really bothers me is having the words on the fuselage and then on the tail where they are hard to read. I really like their sun logo and think it would have looked nice on the tail. Also, for some reason the engines being blue bothers my eye — they probably would have look better orange. I mean this is by no means a horrible livery, but a few simple changes could really make it shine.
Although fun for airline spotters, it does make it kind of hard for your customers to know your brand when there are so many different looks, but I guess that is the down side to leasing aircraft from airlines.
Sunwing was founded in 2005 and operates a fleet of about 20 aircraft (all Boeing 737-800s). According to their website they are, “Canada’s leading high frills, low cost airline.” They call their high frills the Champagne Service, which actually gives a lot of complimentary things not seen on most airlines today (like champagne, food, headsets and more). They operated scheduled and charter service to the US, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, South America and of course Canada.
Have any of you flown them and can describe how the Champagne Service was? Seems like if you can get past the mediocre livery, the flight experience is not too shabby and really that is what matters most right?