The good, the bad, and ugly, of flying Air Canada Signature Class in Canada

by Anshul
8 comments
a group of people in a plane

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In September, I flew a few domestic business class products on Air Canada, and while the short haul flights (YOW -YYZ) were impressive, the long haul flights (between Ottawa-Vancouver -Toronto) were largely disappointing – especially the food. I flew Air Canada 787-8 three times over 3 weeks last month;

  • Ottawa – Vancouver (Signature Class on AC 343)
  • Vancouver – Ottawa (Signature Class on AC 344)
  • Ottawa – Vancouver 5 hours on Flair Airlines
  • Vancouver – Toronto (Signature Class on AC 184)

Air Canada Signature Class cabin includes the familiar executive pods with lie-flat seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration. The hard product onboard 787-8 has not changed much in the last decade – the seats continue to be comfortable and the In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system as exhaustive (and impressive) as ever. So let’s start with that;

The Good – Seats, Comfort, and In-flight Entertainment system

The business class cabin on the 787-8 is extremely roomy, with chic and minimalist branding. The iconic large windows of the 787 make for a really well lit cabin, which makes it look even bigger, and inviting.

Air Canada Signature Class

While the setup around the seat is starting to show its age, the seat itself is fantastic – I love the black and grey colour scheme on these, with the hint of Air Canada red – classy. The bulky seatbelt on 787-8’s never made sense to me, why is only 60% of it padded and bulky?

 

Air Canada Signature Class

Executive pod on the 787-8

There is plenty of room to move around in the pod, to store phones, small gadgets, bottles, and even a bag in the seat well in front. The duvet and seat cover provided are very comfortable, and make the seats even more plush to catch a snooze.

 

Air Canada Signature Class

Seat 7D, from Ottawa to Vancouver

The IFE is excellent, with a big library of movies, tv shows, and other music and audio options. Wi-Fi on the flights was consistently good with social media browsing, streaming services, and even to upload high resolution pictures. The screen on the 787-8 can use an update, the issue with glare is all too real.

Air Canada Signature Class

 

The Signature Class experience is also supposed to include an enhanced food and beverage service. My morning flight out of Ottawa (YOW) to Vancouver (YVR), AC 343, was perhaps the best food experience of the three flights I took, with a breakfast meal. Chef Park feature, the ‘Fresh fruit, greek yogurt, granola, almonds‘ was absolutely delish!

 

Air Canada Signature Class

Breakfast Menu – AC 343

 

Air Canada Signature Class

Although the individually packed, cold croissant was not the greatest, it was much better than a cold piece of ciabatta (that is served for lunch and dinner service). The cold butter is something that should be an easy fix, I assume, it was hard to enjoy cold butter on cold croissant.

How about some whipped butter, so it’s easily spreadable? Hoping someone from Air Canada is reading this. 

Air Canada Signature Class

The Bad – Pasta as a Veg option

The most sorry experience in every economy cabin is when the food trolley being pushed around accompanies the dreaded question, ‘Chicken or Pasta?‘. Air Canada Signature Class experience in Canada is not much different, with main course option being exactly that – chicken and pasta. Except, it’s served in real plates, with cutlery.

The lunch service on flight AC 344, from Vancouver to Ottawa, was horrendous. The Chef Park feature of ‘Smoked Salmon, with hard boiled eggs, capers, guac cream, and mixed greens‘ was good to taste, but served extremely cold. Between that, and the ice cold cutlery, it was a disappointing start.

Air Canada Signature Class

Lunch Menu – AC 344, Vancouver to Ottawa

The cold, individually plastic wrapped ciabatta bread could easily be swapped with a cold, individually wrapped croissant. And again, the cold hard bread, and cold hard butter, are just – No!

Air Canada Signature Class

Chef Antonio Park feature: Smoked Salmon, with hard boiled eggs, capers, guac cream, and mixed greens

 

After a freezing start to the meal, we swung to the other end of the temperature spectrum – inferno. Does anyone know why Pasta is the default veg option on 90% of flights? All reasons aside, overheated Pasta with dried up edges, and pockets of trapped heat ready to burn you inside out, is not my idea of veg food. Or food, for that matter. It tasted as good as it looked – hot garbage.

 

Air Canada Signature Class

Italians, look away – this is AC’s lasagna

The cheese tray was the saving grace here – simple and tasty. I hope Chef Park does not ever have to endure the hockey puck that was served as dessert, with his name beside it. The ‘brownie with caramel, and pecans’ was served ice cold, I mean it – curling up from the sides, frozen caramel and pecans stuck to the brownie for dear life. I was able to dig the caramel and pecans clump out clean.

Air Canada Signature Class

The cheese tray, and a hockey puck

 

The Ugly – they call this curry

After I had vowed to never order pasta again, on a flight, I was mildly excited to see a non-pasta item on the menu as a veg option. The lunch service on AC 184 included ‘Veg couscous, curry sauce, sweet potatoes, zucchini, fennel, kale, red bell peppers‘. You know what they say about good food, more ingredients the better. Right? Right. *Trigger warning* scroll further at your own risk.

Air Canada Signature Class

Lunch Menu – AC 184, Vancouver to Toronto

Curry. This is their curry sauce. My cat throws up better curry sauces than this. As a South Asian human, this was demeaning. I sent the food right back and ate my cheese plate for lunch.

Air Canada Signature Class

Plate of Hot Garbage

 

Take Away

Dear Air Canada, please bring back the boxed meals you had going around during the peak of the pandemic. Stop trying to peddle this hot garbage as food, let alone, a Signature Class meal. I don’t expect a fancy meal, but I do expect to not be shocked each time I get a plate of vegetarian meal inflight. You are doing a great disservice to the amazing chefs you have featured on your menus. At the very least, ban all chefs from flying the domestic Signature Class cabin, they deserve better.

8 comments

Chris October 4, 2021 - 11:29 am

The breakfast parsley omelette, paired with the odd texture of the wrapped ciabatta-inspired bun, made for a symphony of rubbery for me. The other option, pancakes, on my flight this week, also had a chef inspired rubber texture. Ah, food scientists, please pair up with this chef!

Lufthansa served hot crisp bread from a basket on the same day. There is a lesson there, somewhere.

Reply
Live inYUL October 4, 2021 - 8:40 am

I agree. Flew Business in July to Greece on a 777. Comfortable seats and cabin. Also enjoyed the snacks during the flight. The inflight meal service was meh! The author is not kidding. Butter ice cold as was the cutlery. Croissant in plastic. Really?

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Greg October 4, 2021 - 12:25 am

The seat belt has an airbag in it.

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BCT October 4, 2021 - 5:25 am

Sigh… I won’t be coming back to this uninformed blogger any time soon.

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Anshul October 4, 2021 - 6:16 am

Dont go BCT, I will pretend to know it all. Promise.

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Anshul October 4, 2021 - 6:15 am

Thanks for sharing – I honestly had no clue. Cheers!

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BCT October 4, 2021 - 12:21 am

I kind of understood “Signature Class” service was the class of service only on long haul international routes. Everything else was domestic “business class”. Otherwise your comments are spot on, but nothing has really changed in their service model since 2000.

Reply
Anshul October 4, 2021 - 6:18 am

I thought the same, but turns out the Signature Service also includes flights within NA – https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/home/fly/onboard/cabin-features/signature-service.html

Reply

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