Flight Review: Air Canada (777) Business Class – Hong Kong to Vancouver

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Flight Review: Air Canada (777) Business Class – Hong Kong to Vancouver

By |2019-01-16T23:52:21+00:00August 30th, 2017|Categories: Air Canada Flight Reviews, Business Class Flight Reviews, Flight Reviews|Tags: |

Introduction:

It had been a couple of months since my 11-day trip around the world and I was starting to get the itch for a weekend trip. I was browsing Aeroplan one morning when I stumbled across a direct flight from Hong Kong to Vancouver on Air Canada in business class. While I’ve reviewed some of the best international business class products, such as my Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to New Delhi and my Japan Airlines flight from New Delhi to Tokyo, I was more than excited to experience my  country’s flagship international product.

Normally Aeroplan imposes high fuel surcharges on Air Canada operated flights, with international legs having hundreds of dollars in taxes and fees. However, Hong Kong is a unique destination that has very little taxes due to local laws, so I jumped on the opportunity to try the product with only $55CAD in taxes!

No Fuel Surcharges On Flights Out Of Hong Kong On Air Canada!

No Fuel Surcharges On Flights Out Of Hong Kong On Air Canada!

I booked this return flight without even checking inbound availability, but thankfully had no trouble getting a seat on Cathay Pacific in business class on their new route out of Vancouver, operated by the Airbus A350! While I was initially really excited for this flight, the quality of the aircraft ended up disappointing me, though the service and wifi more than made up for the cheap finishes on the seat. I was surprised to get seat 1A despite the late booking, which had overhwlemingly positive reviews by most frequent flyers.

Seat 1A Was Great! No Bother Being Near The Lavatory!

Seat 1A Was Great! No Bother Being Near The Lavatory!

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The Airport:

Search Flight Prices Here:

I arrived at the airport well ahead of schedule after a 1pm checkout from the Marriott Hotel Nanshan in Shenzhen, China. The ferry ride to the airport was faster than expected, and delivered me right to the airport. After getting my boarding pass and making a short trip through transit security, I was at the train to the main departures area.

Since I was flying on Air Canada in business class, I had access to any of the Star Alliance business class lounges. I initially checked out the Thai Royal Orchid Lounge near gate 40 (beside the United lounge) but couldn’t get comfortable in the space. The entire lounge is open concept to the main terminal, which made for a very loud environment. Furthermore, the lounge was packed, and seating felt much like a food court (not in a good way). For a full review, check out this post by James Dozer.

I decided to bypass the United lounge completely, and instead decided to make the long walk to the Singapore Airlines SilverKris lounge near gate 15, about a 15 minute walk away. While the lounge had better food and seating, it felt a bit like a cave, and I ended up just plugging in and watching a movie to pass the time. Check out this other post by James for a full review of the space. At about 6pm I decided to head to my gate to grab a picture of the Boeing 777 that would take me home to Vancouver!

The Beautiful Boeing 777 Taking Me Home!

The Beautiful Boeing 777 Taking Me Home!

The Flight:

Air Canada 8
Hong Kong (HKG) – Vancouver (YVR)
Sunday, April 16, 2017
Depart: 7:50pm
Arrive: 4:41pm (same day)
Duration: 11hr24min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 1A (Business Class)

Boarding began right on time at 6:50, starting with families with young children, followed by business class passengers. I was greeted at the door and directed to my seat by one of the friendly cabin crew. Sometimes you can just tell when the crew are going to be great, and I had a feeling this would be one of those flights! I was offered a pre-departure beverage and asked if I had any questions about the seat.

Pre Departure Beverage

Pre Departure Beverage

Crisp In-Flight Entertainment Screen

Crisp In-Flight Entertainment Screen

This is a fairly new business class product for Air Canada, and I love it! The cabin is arranged in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone configuration, similar to the seat featured on Cathay Pacific’s new Airbus A350, and offers a lot of privacy compared to forward facing seats. The colours are very neutral (as opposed to the 90’s blue in their older cabins) with a little pop of red from the Air Canada maple leaf.

View From Seat 1A Before Boarding

View From Seat 1A Before Boarding

Seat 1A Prior To Departure

Seat 1A Prior To Departure

Love The Small Details In This Cabin

Love The Small Details In This Cabin

The reverse herringbone seats face towards the window, with middle seats slightly angled inwards. This provides a fair amount of privacy, which was appreciated on this full flight.

My Neighbour Middle Seat

My Neighbour Middle Seat

Legroom is generous, with a decent size ottoman and room for bag storage. The foot space seemed larger than some other airlines when the seat was turned into bed mode.

Foot Rest And Seat Storage

Foot Rest And Seat Storage

Storage at the seat was good, with a large cubby for personal belongings, and a smaller one near the armrest facing the aisle. There was also some storage for literature and the flight information cards. Inside the large storage compartment were the noise cancelling headphones for the in-flight entertainment. While decent enough, I opted to use my own Bose headphones for most of the flight.

Large Cupboard For Personal Storage

Large Cupboard For Personal Storage

Plenty Of Space Inside

Plenty Of Space Inside

Smaller Cubby For Personal Items

Smaller Cubby For Personal Items

In-Flight Information Cards And Literature Storage

In-Flight Information Cards And Literature Storage

The pod features all of the standard amenities you expect in business class, including a power source, USB plug, reading light, and air vents!!! It’s so nice to have personal air vents on long overnight flights.

Seat Power Source

Seat Power Source

Headphone Jack And USB Port

Headphone Jack And USB Port

Pod Reading Light

Pod Reading Light

Overhead Lights

Overhead Lights

Air Vents!!! Much Appreciated On A Long Flight

Air Vents!!! Much Appreciated On A Long Flight

There was a pillow and blanket waiting at my seat at boarding, and while comfortable, felt a little bit lacking compared to what United is offering in their new Polaris class!

Large Pillow And Comfortable Duvet

Large Pillow And Comfortable Duvet

Also at the seat were some slippers and a small amenity kit with fairly basic contents, including socks, eyeshade, lip balm, lotion, and earplugs.

Amenities At Boarding

Amenities At Boarding

Really Like The Design Of This Basic Amenity Kit

Really Like The Design Of This Basic Amenity Kit

Fairly Standard Contents

Fairly Standard Contents

Pushback was right on time, despite the flight being completely full, with a short taxi to our runway. I didn’t get many pictures of our departure since it was dark and views were limited.

Taxi - Hong Kong International Airport

Taxi – Hong Kong International Airport

Takeoff From Hong Kong

Takeoff From Hong Kong

The climb out of Hong Kong was smooth and the captain had the seatbelt sign off within 15 minutes or so. The crew was quick to start meal service, which is always appreciated on later flights when most people are expected to sleep. This is in contrast to my redeye on Japan Airlines in business class when the meal service was drawn out for almost half the flight. The menu was simple enough but offered a good variety of food, in my opinion.

Business Class Menu

Business Class Menu

Business Class Menu

Business Class Menu

Business Class Menu

Business Class Menu

Business Class Wine List

Business Class Wine List

Business Class Beverages

Business Class Beverages

Search Flight Prices Here:

The cabin crew had come around for orders prior to departure and I had selected the halibut. I find fish is usually a safe bet on airplanes, compared to beef which often comes out overcooked. I like that Air Canada offers a dine-on-demand option, though most people seemed to have diner service shortly after takeoff.

The meal started with prawn, scallop, and smoked salmon appetizer with mango salsa and lemon mayo. It was delicious and fresh, and easily one of the best airline dishes I’ve ever had.

Seafood Appetizer To Start

Seafood Appetizer To Start

The appetizer was served with a small green salad and a selection of warm bread.

Green Salad And Bread With Appetizer

Green Salad And Bread With Appetizer

My main course followed, consisting of pan-fried halibut with quinoa and asparagus. Like the seafood appetizer, this was one of the better dishes I’ve had in business class, though maybe the presentation could have been better.

Pan-Fried Halibut With Quinoa And Asparagus

Pan-Fried Halibut With Quinoa And Asparagus

The meal service ended with a small fruit plate.

Miniature Fruit Plate

Miniature Fruit Plate

After dinner I decided to check-out the lavatory. While nicely finished, it was nothing special, and fairly cramped. There were some basic amenities by Escents, and the space was kept very clean for the entire flight!

Air Canada 777 Business Class Lavatory

Air Canada 777 Business Class Lavatory

Escents Amenities

Paper Towels

Paper Towels

Change Table Above Toilet

Change Table Above Toilet

Seat controls in the new executive pod are controlled by a small touchscreen panel next to the seat. I found the controls simple and easy to use, and had no problem finding a comfortable position. In addition to standard recline and bed mode, I was also able to adjust lumbar, use a massage function, and adjust the ambient lighting around the seat and in the footwell. Nice Touch!

Touchscreen Pod Controls

Touchscreen Pod Controls

Seat Controls

Seat Controls

Seat Controls

Seat Controls

Massage Function And Lumbar

Massage Function And Lumbar

Ambient Lighting Controls

Ambient Lighting Controls

The seat did convert into a fully-flat bed with the push of a button. The flat bed has a length of 6 feet 7 inches, so most people will be able to find a comfortable position. One small annoyance was that the tray table stowed in an awkward location below the in-flight entertainment screen with some of it exposed. This limited my ability to shift around in the bed, and would certainly be bothersome for someone with a larger frame. Unfortunately the cabin was too dark to get a picture of the bed made-up, but I can confirm it was extremely comfortable, and very similar to most other reverse herringbone configurations.

Tray Table In Stowed Position - Takes Up Bed Space

Tray Table In Stowed Position – Takes Up Bed Space

A few hours into the flight and I was ready to explore the in-flight entertainment selection. I found the content good, with a lot of new Hollywood films available. There was also a good selection of television shows, music, interactive games, and a moving map. All of this could be controlled through the touchscreen remote located in the large storage compartment next to the seat. One small complaint is the lack of WiFi on long-haul Air Canada flights, which is becoming the norm on most airlines and something many business travellers rely on to stay connected.

In-Flight Entertainment Remote

In-Flight Entertainment Remote

In-Flight Entertainment Selection

In-Flight Entertainment Selection

In-Flight Entertainment Selection

In-Flight Entertainment Selection

Great Selection Of New Release Movies

Great Selection Of New Release Movies

Interactive Map Display

Interactive Map Display

After a solid 6 hours of sleep I woke up to a very bright cabin. I decided to open my shades and get adjusted before breakfast service started.

Good Morning (Afternoon?) Over The Pacific

Good Morning (Afternoon?) Over The Pacific

One Of My Favourite Views

One Of My Favourite Views

Breakfast service started a couple of hours prior to our arrival in Vancouver. I opted for the western option, which consisted of fresh bread and yogurt followed by the classic Air Canada omelette with sausage and potatoes. While it certainly doesn’t look appetizing, it actually tasted good.

Breakfast Service - Croissant, Yogurt And Fruit

Breakfast Service – Croissant, Yogurt And Fruit

Breakfast Main Course - Omelette With Sausage And Potatoes

Breakfast Main Course – Omelette With Sausage And Potatoes

We started our descent into Vancouver just after 4pm and were greeted to some nice views over the mountains and the Fraser Valley. I’m always in awe by the Pacific Northwest after being in Asia. It really is the most beautiful place in the world!

Approaching Vancouver

Approaching Vancouver

We touched down basically right on time at Vancouver International Airport and after a short drive to the gate, I was home!

Bottom Line:

I loved this flight! Admittedly, my expectations were set a bit lower than normal, given North American carriers generally fail to compete with other world airlines. However, nothing major about this flight disappointed:

  • The cabin crew was fantastic, from start to finish, always greeting me by name and anticipating my needs throughout the flight
  • The new executive pod was everything one would need in an international business class seat, with plenty of storage, a comfortable seat and bed, with small touches such as ambient lighting and lumbar support
  • The catering was good, with a dine-on-demand option and express dining available

Using Aeroplan miles for this flight was good value at 75,000 miles, one-way, with minimal taxes and fees since this flight originated in Hong Kong (~$50). This is a really attainable flight for many Canadians since American Express Membership Rewards transfer to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio, with Amex currently offering a 50,000 welcome bonus on their American Express Platinum Card!

Would I choose Air Canada over another carrier on a route to Europe with hundreds of dollars of carrier surcharges? Probably not. But for a flight across the pacific, this new executive pod business class product is as good (if not better) as some of the best rated airlines in the world.

American Express Platinum Canada

American Express Platinum Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.

  • Get a $200 travel credit & airport lounge access worldwide.
  • $699 annual fee.

Apply Now!

About the Author:

Champagne taste on a beer budget has always been reminiscent of Tyler’s travel style. Raised in British Columbia, Tyler has an unquenchable thirst for more adventure, which is fueled by leveraging airline and hotel loyalty programs to travel the world in luxury and style. Want to learn how you can travel the world on points, like Tyler? Sign up for an American Express Platinum card and get 50,000 bonus points and a $200 travel credit towards your next dream vacation. (Offer subject to approval and when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months).

4 Comments

  1. James Dozer August 31, 2017 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Great post bud! Very detailed and informative. And thanks for the links back to my lounge reviews. Very much appreciated.

    James.

    • Tyler Weatherup September 1, 2017 at 4:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks for compliment, and the great reviews of the lounges in Hong Kong!

  2. Heather Boxrud January 27, 2018 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    We had a very different experience! Food was horrible, the seat was broken (and the other one dirty), they ran out of the good wine and my husband who is just over 6 feet tall couldn’t sleep on his side because of where the table tray was located. I would not use my points on Air Canada again, until they make some adjustments. We flew Eva air on the way to Bangkok and it was awesome, Air Canada, meh.

    • Tyler Weatherup January 27, 2018 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      Hi Heather,

      That definitely sounds like a much different experience! I agree that the tray table is awkwardly stored and can imagine taller folks could have a tough time getting comfortable. Happy to hear you enjoyed EVA Air – definitely one of my favourite business class products out there!

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