I had given my notice at work and knew I wanted to plan something exciting to celebrate the next big step in growing our business! I decided to book a trip to Shanghai where I would actually stay put for a week and not bounce around from country to country like I did on my 11-day trip around the world back in January. Shanghai has long fascinated me as a city of extreme contrasts, and I was excited to explore all it had to offer!
I booked my trip in business class using Aeroplan miles (150,000 miles roundtrip) and chose a routing that would allow for maximum flying time! I also tried to book the route strategically in order to get variety of different carriers to compare the different business class products. My outbound flight was:
- Vancouver – San Francisco, Air Canada Airbus A320 Business Class
- San Francisco – Tokyo (Narita), United Airlines Boeing 777 Polaris Business Class
- Tokyo (Narita) – Shanghai, ANA All Nippon Airways Boeing 767 Business Class
My inbound flight was a little less complicated, with just one stop in Tokyo:
- Shanghai – Tokyo (Haneda), All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 Business Class (Cradle Seats)
- Tokyo (Haneda) – Vancouver, All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 Business Class (Lie-Flat Seats)
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This trip was exciting, as I was going to be able to fly two new business class products across the Pacific, having recently flown Air Canada in business class from Hong Kong to Vancouver and Cathay Pacific Business Class from Vancouver to Hong Kong. I was curious to see how all of the products compared, and which would be best overall!
I’ve taken many flights out of Vancouver to the USA and have visited the Maple Leaf Lounge multiple times. Like many other domestic class airport lounges, it’s hardly worth a full review, but still a decent place to grab a coffee and snack before the flight.
My flight to San Francisco was scheduled to depart at 6:20am, so I arrived at the airport around 4:30. While I wouldn’t always arrive so early for a cross-border flight, I know that security and immigration can get backed up early in the morning out of YVR due to the number of flights departing between 6-7am, and also because it was the first week of summer holidays and airports tend to be a bit busier when the volume of leisure travellers increases. I had checked into my flight the night before and easily found my way to security for cross-border flights. As suspected, the lineup was long, and it took about 60 minutes to clear customs.
Access to the lounge is for business class passengers, Air Canada Elite and Super Elite status holders, Star Alliance Gold Members, and through various credit cards in Canada. For a full list of ways to gain access, click here.
The Maple Leaf Lounge is located between gates 84 and 86 after immigration and security, which is just a couple minutes from where most transborder flights depart. Access is through a set of doors and up one level, where you will be greeted by a lounge agent and asked to provide proof of eligibility (boarding pass, status card, credit card, etc). I find the lounge agents to be friendly for the most part, even at 5am!
The space looks like many other Air Canada Maple Leaf lounges, and is setup with a beverage/food area in the middle with seating all around. One side of the lounge gets you airside views, while the other has windows facing the terminal. Breakfast food is limited to a continental spread including coffee, juice, breads, fruit, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, etc.
The beverage options include a variety of juices, milk, coffee and soda. There is also a self-serve bar area which opens up later in the day.
I made a coffee and settled into a seat with an airside view. It’s always fun to watch your plane get ready before a flight!
There is also a great view of The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel – one of my favourite hotels in the world and a great place to stay before an early flight!
I had about 30 minutes to enjoy the views before it was time to board, at which point I made the short 2 minute walk to gate where boarding had already begun.
Air Canada 560
Vancouver (YVR) – San Francisco (SFO)
Friday, July 7, 2017
Arrive: 8:24pm (Same Day)
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 2A (Business Class)
Similar to the flight Brad took from Los Angeles to Vancouver, the Airbus A320 Business Class Cabin consists of 14 seats in a 2-2 configuration, with one side of the plane missing the first row. The seat width and pitch is fairly standard for North American carriers at 21 and 38 inches respectively.
I had selected seat 2a, the bulkhead seat on the left side of the plane. This is probably the best seat due to the cutout in the bulkhead, which isn’t a feature on the other side.
The cabin of the plane looks like every other single aisle Air Canada jet: dated fabric and questionable cleanliness. This flight was less than half full in business class, with nobody seated next to me.
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Boarding was quick and we pushed back on time with a very short taxi to our runway. The seatbelt sign was turned off after about 20 minutes, at which point the crew started the meal service. For anyone who has flown Air Canada before, you know their signature breakfast dish is the omelette, which sits just a bit too heavy for me first thing in the morning. I was thankful they offered another healthier option, consisting of some instant oatmeal, fruit and yogurt. I had mine with some herbal tea.
I decided not to indulge in any in-flight entertainment, as the screen is terribly small and the headphones provided are hardly useful.
Instead, I spent the rest of the flight after meal service watching the guy seated across the aisle rub his bare feet all over the place. Yuck.
North American business class is nothing special, but it definitely beats riding in the back for these short positioning flights. While the seats are fairly standard, the service was great. In fact, I’ve yet to have a bad experience with any crew on Air Canada, and always find the staff engaged and friendly, which can’t be said for other experiences I’ve had with different airlines.
While I wouldn’t use the extra miles for a short single segment business class flight when booking a reward ticket, I always appreciate a ride up front when connecting to a longer international flight! Thanks again for the great flight, Air Canada!