Nearly every frequent traveler knows about those fancy flat bed seats flying between California and New York.
But did you know that you can also fly flat between San Francisco and Toronto-Pearson (YYZ) on Air Canada? (LAX-YYZ, too)
Last March, the Canadian carrier deployed a single daily B767 round trip on SFO-YYZ. It departs SFO at 11:35 a.m. and arrives in Toronto at about 7:30 p.m. The widebody departs Toronto at 8:00 a.m. and arrives SFO at 10:25 a.m.
While it would be nice to take advantage of those roomy lie-flat seats on an overnight flight, Air Canada has its 767 timed for connections at its Toronto hub. The flight from SFO arrives in Toronto just in time to meet several evening departures for Europe and Asia, which means business travelers can connect to another lie-flat flight for the transoceanic portion of their trips.
Fares: Since Air Canada and United have a code share (and monopoly) on this route, you can buy your ticket from either airline– but you’ll pay a premium for the lie-flat 767. Business class round trip fares for mid September run $3,200 on the B767, and $2,800 on its four other daily flights on A320s or A321s. Economy class round trips for mid-September are now about $885. (Virgin America and United both bailed on this route in 2011 and 2012, respectively.)
Regrettably, there is no wi-fi on this 767, but it does have it on some of its A320s on the route, including my return flight to SFO.
Air Canada invited me to check out the service last week on a two-day jaunt to Toronto. The airline covered the cost of my flight, and I paid hotel, meals and transfers. (Stay tuned for another Trip Report about my ride on Toronto’s new airport-to-city center train!)
Let’s jump onboard!
Air Canada’s flights depart from the “A” side of SFO’s international terminal, which seemed odd since it is a Star Alliance and code sharing partner with United, which is on the “G” side.
The Boeing 767-300 ER has 24 business class seats in rows 1-8. Seats are configured 1-1-1. Seats along the left side window have their own aisle, which offers more privacy, while seats on the right share an aisle. If you are traveling alone, try to get the A side. Those traveling with someone else should sit across the aisle from each other on the F-K side to facilitate conversation.
Seats are large, well-cushioned and very private. Headphones were (unusually) hardwired into the seats and could not be removed or replaced with personal headphones. High walls between seats make conversation with seat mates difficult. And due to the herringbone configuration, it’s tough to get a good view out the window.
The 767 is an older plane with smaller overhead bin space. These bins could barely accommodate a standard rollaboard carryon turned sideways. Since Air Canada plans to replace these old birds with new 787s, its unlikely that overhead bins will be replaced before they are retired. Nonetheless, there was no problem fitting all passenger carryons in the space provided.
These A seats along the right side window in business class are best for solo travelers.
So here we are at seat 8A again. Why do flight attendants say this is the best seat on the plane? First, it’s very private, in it’s own cubby hole at the back of the section with a closet separating it from economy class. What’s even better is that it is the first seat in the cabin to get flight attendant service– just two flight attendants service the entire cabin, and those seated on the right side may miss out on the entree of choice.
Business class seats are nice and wide and long enough to accommodate my 6′ frame comfortably. Downside is that all that space for your body takes up valuable storage space for your stuff, which means lots of getting up and down to get into the backpack or briefcase. Nonetheless, my biggest regret is that I was not able to spend the night in this nice cozy blue cocoon!
Warm nuts to start.
Overall, the inflight dining experience was excellent, with pleasing portions and very good flavor. However, the presentation is a bit bland compared to what we’ve seen recently in premium cabins on JetBlue (see Trip Report) or Virgin America (See Trip Report) transcons. My suggestion would be for flight attendants to primp the dishes a bit before serving, and maybe add a sprig of parsley or other garnish. Otherwise, the food comes out looking factory-made even though it does not taste that way.
Economy class seats are configured 2-3-2 and appeared to be very comfortable. Plus each seat has a big screen, USB port and power outlet.
After landing at YYZ, I stayed at the hip Thompson Hotel Toronto for two nights, then flew back to SFO on an Air Canada A320. Here’s a mini-review of the Thompson hotel.
Disclosure: Air Canada covered the cost of Chris’s roundtrip airfare to Toronto
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