Whether you’re a frequent flier or have only flown a handful of times, chances are you’ve seen proof of how luxurious an experience in first class can be.
However, on some airlines, business class can provide an equally pampering journey – and a trip doesn’t have to break the bank.
On board the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner or newly refitted Boeing 777 from Air Canada, passengers have the option of booking International Business Class “Executive Pods,” which have lie-flat beds, a remote that lets you order food and drink directly to your seat, and lighting that claims to help with jet lag.
Scroll down to see what it’s like to fly business class on Air Canada, according to both the airline and Honig’s experience:
International Business Class passengers get priority check-in, security clearance, boarding, and baggage delivery. They can also take two checked bags, of up to 32kg each.
They also get access to the Air Canada Concierge Team in person or via the phone for things like restaurant and theatre reservations, special in-flight meals, baggage handling, and chauffeur assistance.
These bookings also give you access to one of the 22 global Maple Leaf Lounges. Here’s the entrance to the one at Heathrow, one of the airline’s flagship lounges.
The lounges are made of marble and hardwood from Canada. The 700 square metre Heathrow Lounge, which opened in 2014, has a quiet zone with reclining pods and personal TV screens, USB ports, Sony noise-cancelling headsets, a shower area, a business centre with PCs, printers, and scanners, and free WiFi.
There’s a selection of hot and cold food, and a chef that will cook on request. Here’s what was available when Points Guy Zach Honig visited the lounge.
This hot pasta dish was one option readily available.
There was also a panini station, and there’s a tended bar with Molson Canadian beer on tap as well as wines and spirits.
Here’s what the lounge looks like in Frankfurt…
…and in Vancouver.
In Air Canada’s global hub of Toronto, business class passengers can even check in in a lounge setting.
The airline opened a brand new ‘Signature Lounge’ for its international business class customers in Toronto in December 2017.
The 6,400 square foot suite boasts a complimentary à la carte restaurant with a menu from acclaimed chef David Hawksworth.
Passengers can enjoy meals and hors d’œuvres…
…or Champagne, fine wines, and cocktails.
No matter which of the world’s lounges they started their journey in, once passengers have had their fill of free food and drink, they can board the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner or refitted Boeing 777 to be taken to their executive pod.
The pods come complete with seats with back support and a massage function, an “adjustable pneumatic cushion,” and adjustable headrests which also have a head and neck massage function.
Honig called Air Canada’s refreshed 777 seat “the most comfortable and spacious” with “a fair amount of privacy.”
He said the only downside to the seats were the “seatbelt airbags.”
The pods have entertainment with 18-inch touch screens, an individual power supply, and a USB outlet.
There’s even a smartphone-esque handset. “You can select content directly on the main screen or use the included wired touchscreen remote,” according to Honig.
There are also noise-cancelling headphones, which Honig called “perfectly serviceable, not great.”
Passengers seem pretty impressed by the “huge screen,” though.
Upon seating, passengers are offered a welcome drink, like this glass of Champagne Honig opted for.
There are wines, spirits, beers, and soft drinks available through the flight, as well as “gourmet cuisine” from culinary partner Chef Hawksworth.
Here’s an example menu from London Heathrow to Toronto Pearson. Passengers can order appetisers, main courses, and desserts.
Here's the biz menu for Air Canada 849 from LHR to Toronto today. ~8 hours gate-to-gate. pic.twitter.com/vdGIkCgCxo
— Zach Honig (@ZachHonig) June 24, 2017
There’s also a food and drink section on the TV, and passengers can place an order from the monitor or remote.
Honig had this rack of lamb, which was served with tomato confit, mashed potatoes, and mushrooms.
He also had this light meal before landing.
Other dishes available include BBQ chicken…
…Smoked Ontario duck breast…
…and dark chocolate fondant.
Passengers are also given an amenity kit filled with travel items and aromatherapy skincare products. They also have access to dedicated washrooms.
Honig said his kit included a dental kit, eye mask, ear plugs, socks, and moisturisers.
There’s ambient mood lighting in the pods which claims to be in sync with time zones to “alleviate jet lag.”
When it’s time for bed, the seats in the executive pods become lie-flat beds. On the AC 787, this means they become 21 inches wide and 6′ 7″ long.
It’s an especially big bed if you’re a baby…
…But it fits adults, too.
Ultimately, Honig said Air Canada’s new business class is “one of the most comfortable options for crossing the Atlantic” thanks to the comfy seat, roomy layout, and “better food and service than US carriers.” He didn’t like that there was no WiFi, though — and he found the seatbelt airbag pretty annoying.
“Would I connect in Canada just to fly the airline again? Probably not, unless I happened upon premium-cabin award space or an extra-cheap business-class fare,” Honig said. While he paid for the flight, to anyone looking to use miles for the experience, he added: “I also wouldn’t consider this to be an ‘aspirational’ redemption — like, say, Etihad’s A380 Apartment or even the new Qatar Airways Qsuite — but if the price is right, I’m game for another long-haul hop on AC.”
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