Edited by: Michael Y. Park
& Keri Stooksbury
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Airline: Air Canada
Aircraft: Boeing 787-900
Flight #: AC 845
Route: Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) to Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
Date: August 17, 2023
Duration: 7hr 55min
Cabin and Layout: Air Canada economy with 247 seats, 3-3-3 configuration
Seat: 19G (aisle seat)
Cost: 40,100 Aeroplan points + ~$155 (including another flight to LAX)
Typical Cash Price: $1,430
I recently visited Turkmenistan with a friend and stopped at his house in Germany for a few days before returning home to California. With the peak summer travel season in full force, flight options weren’t great. I couldn’t find anything direct to Los Angeles but was happy to find a 1-stop itinerary with Air Canada via Montréal.
I’d never flown long-haul with Air Canada before, so I was excited to check it out. Was it worth the price? And how was service? Is this an airline you should intentionally try to book or one to avoid?
Here is my experience from a flight in mid-August 2023.
I booked directly with Air Canada Aeroplan, paying 40,100 points + CA$203.30 (~$155). That included my flight from Frankfurt (FRA) in Germany to Montréal (YUL) in Canada and the onward flight to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
To book only the flight from FRA to YUL, expect to pay 32,500 points + $113. The cash price for my booking was $1,430 just to Montréal but $1,595 to Los Angeles. That gave me a redemption value of 3.6 cents per point — an abnormally high value for an economy booking with Aeroplan points.Hot Tip:
If you were to book with cash, consider one of our recommendations for the best credit cards for airfare purchases.
I checked in online 24 hours in advance and was able to choose an aisle seat in the center block of 3 seats, strategically choosing one where the middle seat was likely to remain empty. I got a mobile boarding pass for the flight this way.
When checking in, I was given the option to upgrade to business class for €1,201.35 (~$1,190). I wasn’t interested in that price, especially for a daytime flight.
On arrival at the airport in Frankfurt, I asked the information desk if mobile boarding passes were accepted for passing security and boarding. The employees said yes, so I didn’t go to the check-in counter. I had only carry-on bags and no reason to wait in line.
Flying in economy didn’t grant any lounge access with my ticket.
There were several Priority Pass lounges in Terminal 2, but I was flying from Terminal 1, where the only option was LuxxLounge. This lounge was located landside before security between Concourses B and C on the Gallery Level above the check-in desks.
There were plush chairs arranged in groups of 4, with outlets available. Toward the buffet area was an additional seating area with restaurant-style tables and chairs that were more ideal for dining.
While the dining offerings weren’t spectacular, the breakfast spread had cold cuts, eggs, croissants, cinnamon rolls, and more, as well as juice, tea, and coffee.
The lounge had amenities such as showers and blazing-fast Wi-Fi, but the overall experience was very average, and I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit this lounge again.
My flight departed from gate B44. Shortly before boarding started, I approached the counter, assuming someone would want to see my passport. I told the employee I hadn’t checked in at the counter and asked if she needed to check my passport. She shooed me away, saying I was in boarding group 5 and to wait my turn.
Of course, 30 seconds later, the same employee called my name over the speaker, saying I should come to the podium for a document check. “Hey, me again,” I greeted her. I thought it was hilarious, but she wasn’t amused.
Once boarding started, it was organized until it jumped from Group 4 to the final call. Those of us in Group 5 must have been small in number.
We boarded through the center door, entering in the galley between the business and economy cabins. At the door to the plane, a friendly flight attendant checked my seat number and indicated the aisle on the opposite side. Flight attendants greeted passengers in a mix of English, French, and German, and they did a good job of helping passengers clear the aisle to keep the process moving.
The economy cabin on this flight used a 3-3-3 layout. I had seat 19G — the aisle seat on the right side of the middle block of seats.
I liked the linear pattern on the seats.
Each had a blanket and pillow.
While I wouldn’t call the space between rows spacious, I didn’t hit my knees on the seat — my minimum expectation. I’m 5 feet, 10 inches, for context.
The cabin looked and felt clean, aside from this small piece of trash in my row at boarding.
In the seat pocket in front of me was a menu (with food and drinks for sale) and a safety information card.
A button on the armrest controlled the seat’s recline.
The latch to release the tray table worked easily, despite being cracked.
The tray table was a good size.
It held my 13-inch laptop comfortably.
Under the seat in front of me, I had a universal outlet.
Overhead, there were 3 air vents and 3 reading lights.
The overhead bins were spacious. Given that our flight was only two-thirds full, the bins weren’t packed.
It was possible to view the meal offerings prior to departure using the Air Canada mobile app. Options on this flight included chicken teriyaki with rice and vegetables or casarecce pasta with tomato sauce and cheese.
During meal service, the flight attendant confirmed my special meal request (a vegan meal) and asked what I wanted to drink. The tray included a bottle of water, chopped fruit, a chickpea salad, a roll, crackers, a “salad” (just pieces of lettuce with a bottle of olive oil), and a main meal.
The butter bean masala, spicy cauliflower, and couscous dish was excellent. Grade A.
And since I had the whole block of 3 seats to myself, I was able to use the seat next to me to hold my stuff and the tray table to hold my laptop when the meal came. I had an office at 30,000 feet.
An hour before landing, we also received a savory pastry. It reminded me of a Hot Pocket. The standard offering was a chicken pastry. Mine had vegetable curry inside.
These weren’t large, but they were heavy and kept my stomach happy as we neared the end of the flight.
Prior to takeoff, I played with the Air Canada mobile app and enjoyed the information it showed about my flight. Along with viewing the flight time and departure and arrival gates, it was possible to check the meal information for the flight and items available for sale besides the complimentary meals.
Each seat had a personal entertainment system. The screen wasn’t large, but it wasn’t small enough that I’d give a negative rating.
The touchscreen system worked well and had numerous language options.
The system offered movies, TV shows, news, music, games, and a flight map.
It was possible to sort the movies by genre or find new releases.
There were reasonably recent movies on offer, with a display of movies coming soon.
But the most interesting aspect was filtering for movies that you could finish before landing. The options obviously decreased the closer we got to arrival, but this was a cool feature.
The flight also had Apple TV+, with many shows available.
Within the settings, it was possible to enable parental controls.
A headphone jack and USB-A port (for charging only) were on the bottom of the screen.
Lavatories were at the middle and rear of the economy cabin, along both aisles. They didn’t have any special features.
The flight crew did a great job keeping these clean and stocked throughout the flight.
If you wanted to access the internet, there was information in the bistro booklet in the seat pocket and on the entertainment system.
Messaging was available for free for Aeroplan members.
Messaging was accessed by providing your last name and seat number. However, this may not have worked if you did not list your Aeroplan number on the flight (for example, if you booked with United miles).
For 1 hour, internet access was priced at 1,100 Aeroplan points or CA$10.75 (~$8.17). That was a value of 0.7 cents per point — pretty bad. For a flight pass, the cost was 2,800 points or CA$27.75 (~$21.10). Again, using your points to pay presented poor value. You could pay by credit card or PayPal.
The network only cut out for a brief moment during the flight, and speeds were pretty good as far as airplane Wi-Fi goes: 23.35 Mbps downloads and 2.22 uploads.
Air Canada started offering free messaging Wi-Fi across its Wi-Fi-equipped planes as of May 2023.
The flight attendants on this flight were great. Aside from the snarky gate agent (who was an airport employee, not an Air Canada employee), everyone else working this flight was friendly and helpful.
At boarding and before departure, flight attendants were smiling and eager to help people find their seats, search for overhead bins, and move out of the aisle to let other passengers by.
During meal service, the process was efficient and friendly. And the crew returned quickly with a trash cart to clear away trays after people had finished eating.
I also enjoyed that the pilots and flight attendants didn’t make an unnecessary number of announcements. Some airline crews love to use the intercom, but we got the information we needed without extra fluff. This elevated the flying experience, in my view.
On arrival in Montréal, we quickly taxied to our gate, and flight attendants were present at the door to smile, say goodbye, and point people in the right direction. We deplaned through the center door, between business class and economy, and the process was extremely efficient.
I’d never flown Air Canada long-haul before, and this was a good first experience. The flight attendants were friendly, the internet worked well, and the meal service was good.
Would I go out of my way to fly Air Canada over another carrier? No, because I’m not a fan of unnecessarily adding time to a travel day. But given this experience, I’d likely choose Air Canada over another airline if all things were equal (like cost, travel time, etc.).
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There are 298 seats total on Air Canada’s B787-900 planes. There are 30 seats in business class, 21 in premium economy, and 247 seats in a 3-3-3 layout in economy.
On long-haul international flights, there is a complimentary meal in the economy cabin. However, complimentary meals are not served in economy during transborder flights between Canada and the U.S.
Bistro is Air Canada’s “for purchase” menu. This includes snacks, drinks, meals, and combos available to buy during a flight.
Air Canada uses Terminal 1. Check-in counters are in the B/C area of the terminal.
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Ryan has been on a quest to visit every country in the world and plans to hit his final country in 2023. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.
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