On this journey, I am making my way to Toronto via Vancouver to celebrate the wedding of two very dear friends. 20 hours of travel in total, but nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the journey.
What I most like about this flight is that it is the only direct option between Sydney and Canada that operates all year round, and the timing is fantastic. If you can sleep on planes, dozing off 7 or 8 hours after leaving Sydney at 1215pm, and waking up at close to landing in Vancouver at 0730 is a dream. It really takes the edge off the jetlag and makes the journey feel that much shorter.
CHECK IN & PRE-BOARDING
So, I had high expectations of this journey. There was no queue at the airport and the kind check-in staff assigned me isle seat 23D because it was not a full flight I had an empty seat next to me which was very welcome. However, next door and in front was a lovely Canadian family travelling with their infant child and two toddlers, and here’s where the Air Canada know-how and character becomes really important.
The youngest of the three children (only a few months old), was terribly uncomfortable, and in pain, and scared. He was really going for gold on the wailing front. I’d be lying if I told you my blood pressure wasn’t sky high.
The Air Canada crew within moments of the family boarding had made themselves known to the parents, offered to help with the children throughout the flight and provided sanitary kits to mum and dad for the infant, as well as talking them through the safety procedures for their children.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in some 150 days overseas this year, is that happy children make for happy passengers – and the Air Canada crew wisely prioritised their comfort, not only for the benefit of the family but for those of the passengers seated around them.
A sympathetic nod from the crew, or that fourth bottle of wine, was enough to keep tensions at a minimum and remind everyone else travelling that long-haul flights with little kids ain’t easy, and we’ve all got to be considerate toward one another. Families have the right to travel too.
ENTERTAINMENT & SERVICE
Air Canada boasts responsive, sharp, seat back touch screens with a USB charger and in-seat power for all your power-hungry needs. There’s an extensive selection of movies and TV on offer, but I’m hoping to sleep so opt for my ever-faithful Sherlock Holmes audiobook (all 70 hours worth). One feature I especially like is the standard headphone jack in the screen, which means no pesky headphone adaptors to buy and/or lose. I’ve no doubt that I easily could have passed the flight with the movies and TV on offer.
The two cabin managers assigned to our area were full of personality and character. One gentleman traded dad jokes and goofy magic tricks with the passengers and the other had this wonderful nurturing nature about her and some fantastic stories of her travels around the world. If ever there was an embodiment of the Canadian character, these two were it – and having that sense of connection with the crew is essential to enduring a long overnight flight.
I’m 5 foot 11, and on the business end of 90 kilos. Economy is laid out in a 3-4-3 configuration, the 31 inches of seat pitch, and 17 inches of seat width are oodles. I’ve got my laptop, a pair of headphones and a book in the seat back pocket with a little room to spare.
Mind you, I strategically pick the aisle because I’m a little taller, and the empty seat next door is a godsend. That said, the flight from Vancouver to Toronto (exactly the same aircraft) was 100% full, I was in a middle seat, and even then, was plenty comfortable for the 4 hours hop between to the two cities.
FOOD & DRINKS
Lunch is served not long after leaving Sydney. I choose the Chicken, Olive and Tomato bake with side salad and cake. The Chicken is excellent, especially moist and full of flavour by airplane food standards, so too is the cake, washed down with a 2017 Martinolles Merlot. Later in the flight, a mid-flight snack is served along with drinks, which I gladly accept – a Chicken wrap and another wine. This is a scheduled 15-hour flight after all!
Breakfast is served a couple of hours prior to arrival, and a sleepy cabin is woken as the sun rises from the east (a spectacular view if you’re seated on the right-hand side of the aircraft), so a selection of an omelette or waffles, which much like lunch some ten hours earlier, is flavourful and filling. I opted for the omelette and I’m really hoping to get the waffle option on the way home – the smell was driving me crazy and instantly regretted my healthy breakfast choice.
Air Canada operates a Boeing 777 ER between Sydney and Vancouver. While they also have the more modern (and bloody beautiful) 787 Dreamliners from Melbourne and Brisbane, the triple seven is nothing to spill maple syrup at. It’s one of the most widely produced aircraft in the world and feels bolted to the sky, is comfortable, spacious and quiet. In fact, all of Air Canada’s aircraft that operate between Australia and Canada are the same remodelled product with each boasting a three-class configuration, so despite being a different product, it’s hard to tell the difference.
On this flight, we were blessed with clear air the whole way besides a bumpy departure out of Sydney due to bad weather.
Not long later we’re on the ground in a very chilly 0 degrees Celsius, bang on time. There’s something to be said about any airline that can make a 14 hour (ish) flight memorable, and comfortable. Not only that, but it’s by far the quickest (and only) direct flight between Australia and Canada, the alternatives mean stopping in the hell that is LAX.
Aircraft: Boeing 777 ER
Class: Economy seat 23D
Flight Time: 20 hours SYD/YVR/YYZ
Baggage: 2 Free checked in bags weighing 23 kilograms each
Loyalty: Star Alliance partner which means you get points
More Information: ww.aircanada.com