Canada is fast becoming a favourite holiday destination for Aussies – our data shows 15 per cent more travellers visited this year compared with 2016. With direct flights from Brisbane to Vancouver with Air Canada, there’s now a seamless connection to the Great White North from Southeast Queensland. The extremely likable and liveable city of Vancouver is a popular gateway to destinations across North America with same-day connections to the US and Canada. If you are travelling on to the States, you’ll clear US Customs and Immigration in Vancouver for an even smoother transition.
But what is it really like to fly with Air Canada in Economy Class on a 14-hour non-stop flight? Please fasten your seatbelt, adjust your seat into an upright position, and read on for our Brisbane–Vancouver flight review.
Route: Brisbane to Vancouver
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
Seat number: 36A (window)
Duration: 13 hours, 20 minutes
Baggage allowance: 2 bags at 32kg per bag
The seamless service really starts with online check-in, which is quick and easy. You’ll still need to visit an Air Canada kiosk at Brisbane International Airport to collect your Air Canada boarding pass (paper passes are the airline’s preference) and complete your bag drop, then it’s just security screenings before you board.
If you have onward flights, as I did, you’ll receive all your boarding passes for the entire journey upon check-in and your checked luggage tagged through to your final destination – no need for a mad dash for your baggage during connections.
Note: you’ll also board the plane by zone, which is designated on your boarding pass. For flights to Canada and the US, passengers are now required to arrive at least three hours before your departure, and check-in and baggage drop-off ends 60 minutes before your flight. For onward flights, Air Canada recommends between a minimum connection time of an hour to 1.5 hours, depending on your stopover airport in Canada and final destination.
Air Canada is a member of Star Alliance, so eligible Aeroplan members and Air Canada Altitude members have access to the Air New Zealand International Lounge, Singapore Airlines’ SilverKris Lounge and Qantas Club at Brisbane International Airport before you fly.
Air Canada’s International Economy Class seats on the Dreamliner are quite roomy, with a 3-3-3 configuration, which allows for more space and wider seats. I was seated in a row of three seats toward the back of the aircraft (six rows from the toilets and galley) with two other females and we were each able to stake out some space to sleep, albeit in an upright position. Seat pitch in Air Canada Economy Class is 78.7cm (31”) with a width of 43.9cm (17”) and 12.7cm (5”) recline. All Economy Class seats are equipped with adjustable headrests, and passengers are issued with a pillow, blanket and headphones, if required.
For an additional cost (approximately AUD$14 – $199), you can purchase Preferred Seats for extra legroom and even more space with bulkhead and exit row seating.
Each Economy Class seat has a 9-inch personal seatback touchscreen powered by Air Canada’s enRoute on-demand inflight entertainment system. There’s up to 150 films (new releases, classics, comedy, drama, family etc), short films, 200 TV shows, and plenty of audio options (including music and podcasts) at your fingertips plus games and seat-to-seat chat. You can also track your flight’s progress on a moving map across the Pacific Ocean. Keep your portable electronics charged with the onboard USB port or power ports between seats.
A charming aspect of flying Air Canada is the dual-language announcements and communication (which extends to the airline’s informative and interesting enRoute inflight magazine). I really enjoyed the onboard service – the flight attendants were available but not intrusive, letting passengers sleep without interruptions during meal service, for example. The use of mood lighting and darkened cabins on the Dreamliner is also conducive to resting (and avoiding jetlag) during the flight, and in my section, most passengers were quiet – either watching movies or sleeping.
Food and beverage
For the long-haul flight from Brisbane to Vancouver, two hot meals were served – one after takeoff (after the ‘welcome pretzels’) and a hot breakfast before landing. There was also a mid-flight meal of a filled savoury roll and beverage service. A selection of complimentary wines, spirits and non-alcoholic drinks is also available. A wide variety of dietary options are catered for, and the meals on board Air Canada are adequate, if not overly exciting, with a hot main, salad, roll and dessert as well as a mini bottle of water. I’m vegan so I regularly pack extra snacks, however I didn’t need to access my stash on the flight over. Frequent water runs by the cabin crew also mean you stay hydrated on your flight.
Overall, I was impressed with how quickly the time passed on an almost 14-hour flight. I only completed watching one movie, and was able to sleep or doze the majority of the time, thanks to the Dreamliner mood lighting, which made a huge difference to how I felt on touchdown in Vancouver and my connecting Air Canada flight to the US. The cabin crew also made the onboard experience pleasant with unobtrusive yet friendly service.
Air Canada’s direct flight from Brisbane to Vancouver is a fantastic way for Queenslanders to fly non-stop to Canada and other destinations in North America (there is also a Sydney-Vancouver route on the 787 Dreamliner). From December 1, 2017, Air Canada will introduce the direct Melbourne–Vancouver route – also on the airline’s Boeing 787-8), with Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins available.
All images: Air Canada