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Let me start by saying that it was fantastic to be able to fly again. Everything from using Nexus security screening lane, clicking pictures of the flight I was going to board, being welcomed onboard by airline staff, to the breakfast tray on a 50 minute flight, made me feel like a kid in a toy store. Not an exaggeration, the last time I flew in Aug 2020, was under dire circumstances – a medical emergency in the family. My short hop from Ottawa (YOW) to Toronto (YYZ) this time around was an antidote to my experience last year.
I booked a combination of Economy Class ‘Latitude Award’, and a ‘Standard Award’ for return leg, using Aeroplan points (AP), which cost me 21600 + $89.55 CAD for the trip. E-upgrade credits were then applied, and cleared, on both legs in accordance with the e-Upgrade requirements.
YOW – YYZ: (Economy Class Latitude Award)
E-Upgrades used: 2, cleared right away
YYZ – YOW: (Economy Class Standard Award)
E-Upgrades used: 5 +$75 add-on fee, cleared on the day of flight
Total: 21600 AP + $164.55 (incl. tax, and add-on fee), 7 eUpgrade Credits
For comparison, the standard economy award for this route would have priced at ~ 12,000 + $89.55.
Air Canada Business Class : YOW – YYZ
On the day of my flight, I reached the airport a few minutes before boarding since Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge in Ottawa is still closed. I was able to utilize the vacant Nexus lane for security screening, and bypassed the 50 people lineup. My ride for the day was the impressive Air Canada A220-300;
With Zone 1 priority, I boarded the flight without much waiting around, and settled into seat 2D. The business class cabin was a 2-2 configuration on this mint new A220, with the personal touch-screen TV beaming crisp pictures of Toronto city-scape. The new Air Canada Safety Video was an absolute treat to watch, made me wanderlust even as I buckled in for my flight.
It’s been so long since a proper meal service onboard, I was genuinely surprised to see a full breakfast tray being offered shortly after take off. The breakfast tray included a main plate of omelette, sausage, red potatoes, and ricotta cheese spread. Alongside was a fruit tray, a croissant, yogurt, and a ‘Welcome Back’ cookie!
While it didn’t occur to me then, the trays were promptly cleared 20 minutes later, since our 50 minute flight was ready to descend. Excellent food tray, but with minimal time to enjoy each item on it. The Welcome Back note and the cookie were a nice touch!
Upon reaching YYZ, I had some time to kill before heading to a wedding. I decided to use the lesser known exception with Maple Leaf Lounges , where elite members can access domestic lounges upon arriving on AC flights – here is the official policy (emphasis my own);
Maple Leaf Lounges are reserved for customers departing on flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge, Air Canada Express or a Star Alliance member airline. Exception: Aeroplan Super Elite, Aeroplan 75K and 50K Members as well as their qualifying guests may access the domestic Maple Leaf Lounges at airports in Canada and the U.S. upon arriving on an Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or Air Canada Express flight.
Maple Leaf lounge in YYZ was quite, and a good place for me to get some work done. Still full from my breakfast onboard, I decided to simply browse the table service menu – the options;
Air Canada Business Class : YYZ – YOW
The return leg of the trip from Toronto began at The Union Station, to board the UP Express that connects Union station downtown and Pearson International airport in 25 minutes. The fare for an adult one-way was $12.35 CAD. The Union Station is such an impressive building, both inside and out!
Just minutes before boarding started, my e-upgrade cleared for this leg of the journey. Having boarded as a Zone 1 passenger, I settled into seat 1A (bulkhead) this time, with beautiful pictures of Ottawa on the tv screen.
The window views did not disappoint, as I waited for boarding to complete – AC Boeing 737 Max 8 was parked right next to us, with the Dreamliner Boeing 787-9 in background. So, so good, to be able to catch a glimpse of the Air Canada fleet at YYZ.
Not to be missed, we also passed by the Boeing 777-300 ER which was parked a couple of gates over, as we taxied to the runway. Fleet gods were obliging my child-like enthusiasm 🙂
The flight timing for my return leg included an afternoon snack service onboard, which was served shortly after take-off: The Beet hummus dip, with warm pita, and a skewer of Feta cheese and Olives, was much more conducive to the short flying time on this route. In fact, I enjoyed this meal a lot more than my breakfast (Omelette) meal highlighted above.
This trip reminded me the novelty and privilege that it is, to be able to fly in comfort, and enjoy the simple pleasures that the points hobby brings us. Would I advocate that everyone spend 21,000 Aeroplan points to experience short haul business class? Honest answer is no. Your points are better utilized on long haul international flights, or even cross continental flights. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed these short flights, and the meal service onboard.