I fly the same itinerary on a frequent basis, 2 or 3 times a month, and I could not like the service offered by Air Canada more. The E-90 (my favorite plane) is modern and Incessantly wash down. The seats are comfy and the attendants are well mannered and alert. I use theholidayhotels.com to get Air Canada deals as well as hotel bookings.
I have flown with Air Canada on several different occasions to many different locations around Canada. From quick 45 minute flights up to long cross Canada flights my experiences have been positive. Comparing Air Canada with several other North American Airlines like Continental, WestJet, and United, Air Canada trumps almost all of these airlines in comfortable and friendly service. Their staff is friendly and knowledgeable and will go out of their way to ensure customer satisfaction. Air Canada is in fact so committed to customer service that during an overnight delay in Hawaii, Air Canada offered all the passengers with complimentary hotel service as well as a free cab to a nearby hotel. Unfortunately Air Canada does have a few drawbacks. Firstly, their food is absolutely terrible and not at all large enough for long flights. Secondly, if you have trouble booking flights, it is almost impossible to get through to their 1-800 number. On 3 separate occasions, I have been on hold with them for over 2 hours with no answer and when I finally did reach a customer consultant they were not able to fix my problem and I was forced to rebook flights for a more expensive price on a later date. Overall when flying Air Canada, I have had great experiences with staff and flight experience(minus the terrible food), unfortunately in regards to customer service at home, they seem under-staffed and unable to meet the needs of the customer
On deciding to go to Canada for a holiday, the next step was to decide on which Airline to go over with.
After much comparing Air Canada was the airline which suited our needs best and seemed to give us the best deals all round, and also had the days and times of flight travel that suited us.
It was very easy to book on line even choosing which seats we wanted to sit in.
When booked, they will email you an e ticket which when you arrive at the Airport you just show at the Air Canada desk.
They will also encourage you to fill in the Advanced Passenger Information. This is a must as if you do not fill in this form then you will not be able to get into Canada.
Air Canada flew us out on a Boing 777.
After hearing all about the shortage of leg room on some planes we found that Air Canada had plenty of leg room.
They are very well organised and call you onto the plane in a good order - people with walking difficulties go first, then people with children then the rest are called by the number of seat rows.
We were on the plane for over 7 hours so in that time we had 2 meals. The first was either chicken or pasta with a drink, bread and c ake. We had the chicken and it was nice. The sec ond meal was "a snack" so no tray only something I can call the Canadian equivelent to Twiglets!
On the return journey flying back on an Airbus A330 the meal was chicken and pasta but by the time they got to the middle with the meals they had ran
out of chicken so there was no choice and if like me you dont like pasta it was hard luck. I thought though never mind I will have a sleep and look forward to the breakfast which was "continental breakfast". When the continental breakfast arrived though I just could not believe it as I was expecting something like toast (which yes I know would have been impossible to do) a crousant or cereal. What arrived? A muffin!
We arrived 15 minutes early though!
All in all it is a very good Airline to travel to Canada on and I will definately go with them next time, it is just a pity about their meals.
I've had a total of 4 flights with Air Canada now and each one has been fantastic. Best airline I've flown with. I haven't used that many but out of those, this is by far the best. Both return flights were from UK to Toronto which are about 8 hours in total. I have flown with Air Canada from both London Gatwick and Manchester Airport, arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
== Booking and Price ==
The first time I booked flights to Toronto, I had no real idea about what airlines are the best and who had good reputations. I booked my flights through a local travel agent and they worked quite hard to find me the best prices, Air Canada it turns out, was not as expensive as I had expected. I was expecting some lesser known airlines to have way better prices but Air Canada was extremely competitive at the time. My return flights to Toronto from both Manchester and London Gatwick have cost somewhere between £350 and £400. Having recently looked at going back to Toronto someday, I am shocked at what these flights now cost. You're looking to pay at least £550 return now but the majority I have seen cost much more.
Flights can also be booked through the Air Canada website which gives you a range of options. This is a really good way to see the flight options and the difference in prices for flying at different times and from different airports. Booking online makes it possible to find the cheapest combination of flights but it does mean you may have to be more lenient on the times you are able to go.
== Check in ==
I have to say, I much prefer Manchester Airport to London Gatwick. For me, Manchester is a lot easier to get to, with only having to get one direct train instead of 3 and the tube for London. I didn't have any choice though with London as the flights were a part of my working holiday visa (which will be explained in another review). When I flew from Gatwick, check in was a bit of a nightmare, even though I checked in at 6am. With so many other people using the same visa I was using, there was A LOT of people checking in at the same time as we had to meet some company reps at the same time. I don't think the staff at Gatwick were expecting to be bombarded at that time of the morning. MAN on the other hand, was much easier and less stressful. The waiting time was only about 15-20 minutes even though the lines were massive. Staff here were helpful, quick and efficient, even with all the questions they need to ask about packing your own bags etc. My baggage was handled well at both airports though which was nice to see. Having flown with other airlines, I have noticed that bags can sometimes be thrown around without anyone caring about what is in them.
== The Flight ==
I've always flown economy class. I cant afford 1st class unfortunately although I would love to fly that way one day. On boarding the plane, I was surprised to see how spacious it was. Some other flights I have been on were incredibly cramped and I could see just by looking at the seats that it was going to be an uncomfortable flight. The seats with Air Canada were a little bigger than usual and it was clear that there was more leg room. Now, I am not a tall girl at 5'6 but I do like to be able to put my feet out and get as comfortable as possible, especially considering the length of the flight.
On an 8 hour flight, 1 main meal is served (what it is depends on the time), and 2 snacks throughout the flight. When it came to the main meal, a few options were available, including a vegetarian option. Although I am not a vegetarian, I thought this was great. My sister is vegetarian and I know it is a pain having to pre book meals on flights because of certain requirements. The food was really nice too. Each meal is served with a hot bread roll with a small portion of butter but I have asked for more before and have never been told no. Each time I have flown with Air Canada, the snacks have either been a sandwich or pizza which is so much better than what you get with other airlines. Also, cookies have been given out towards the end of the flight before. Drinks are always available, all you need to do is ask an attendant. They have always been extremely helpful and not appeared rude or annoyed with people asking for drinks throughout the flight.
Three films were also played on each flight. The films shown were always quite recent releases and were suitable for all passengers. I don't like flights where they put on films over a certain classification during the day time as I don't think it is fair towards any younger passengers with nothing else to do. Earphones were also provided for each passenger (free of charge unlike Air Transat) so that you are able to listen to the films as well as listen to the radio if that is what you prefer. I did have a listen to the radio as my I-Pod was beginning to run out of battery and the choice was good. There is something there that everyone will be able to enjoy.
Duty Free is available on board and a magazine showing all items available are given to each customer. It was nice to have a good amount of time to be able to look through duty free items before having to place an order. I like looking at the different things being offered, especially as some of them can vary depending on what country you are visiting. Air Canada had some lovely moose teddies available which was a very Canadian idea and a nice one at that. At the beginning of the flight, attendants come round making sure everyone has a pillow and a blanket to make sure you are comfy enough. Immigration cards are handed out towards the end of the flight.
== Arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport ==
Up until this point, my journey had been pretty much stress free (with the exception of being at London Gatwick). Let me start by saying that Toronto Pearson International is massive. It was a little bit daunting just looking at the airport as the plane began to land. Being in the airport itself only made things worse. Before being able to collect my bags, I had to go through immigration and this is the worst thing I have been through while travelling. On my first visit to Canada, I was staying with a friend but the immigration officer appeared to have a problem with my reasons for visiting. After implying some very insane things and an hour later, I was finally given permission to enter the country properly and go and collect my bags. The immigration officer that I dealt with was extremely rude when there was no need to be and because of this, I have been a little nervous/ scared going through this the other times I went on holiday to Canada. Obviously, this isn't something I can blame on Air Canada so don't think that this has anything to do with them. So after a long day of travelling and an hour with immigration, I just wanted to grab my bags and find my friend who was waiting to meet me. Getting my luggage luckily didn't take too long seeing as most people who were on the flight had already got theirs and left already.
== Overall ==
I have loved my flights with Air Canada and if they weren't so expensive now, I would definitely fly with them again. Check in on our end is pain free and has been done in a quick and efficient manner. Everything done by Air Canada is designed to make your trip as stress free and relaxing as possible and I truly felt that they achieved this with me. Apart from the annoyance of immigration once in Toronto, travelling was no problems at all and the flights went quickly due to always having something to do. The staff are also some of the nicest flight crews that I have flown with so far. Air Canada comes highly recommended from me!
Here's the gist of my trip first of all:
one week in las vegas beginning of Feb 2008, paid £644 for flights and hotel (The Signature at MGM grand VIP suite (blagged an upgrade for being cool)) so all in all a great deal!!
However, I had to fly there with Air Canada.
Flew from Heathrow around midday for and 8 hour flight to Toronto. This was 8 hours with inatentive staff, unbearable heat and no entertainment system (to which we were told "well i'll reset it but if it doesn't work then I don't know what to do"
after 2 hours my ipod battery was flat, I'd read every damn book in the seat pocket and listened to everybody moan about the heat.
I just had to sit there (unable to sleep due to the time) for another 4 hours.
oh but I did spend an hour praying for our safe passage over the Atlantic due to turbulance so that killed some time.
I forgot to mention that I totally hate flying, the whole experience scares the B'Jesus out of me, don't know why, but it does.
Landed at Toronto, now luckily I love rude people so I was happy to be greeted at immigration by lord of gits happily wasting my time while I had only 20 minutes to pick up my own bags, re-check them in and run the full length of the airport to my connecting flight which I only just made due to the grace of God (which I never believed in until that first prayer on the flight)
So, sat on plane 2 covered in sweat and totally out of breath trying not to look suspicious (as I guess that's how suicide bombers look as they board a plane?!?!?!) and dreading the next 5 hours of sitting with my legs up around my ears.
Now a couple of things to point out, I'm 6 foot tall (which really is not actually that tall nowadays) and I'm 24 stone (yeah yeah I'm not going to moan about the size of the seats as the fatness is all my own fault so I deserve to be a bit cramped widthways, However I will moan about the legroom as there is nothing anyone can do about their height. I think dimensions should be given at check in so this can be accomodated for.
Even my two travelling companions (one at 5'4" and one at 5'6") complain at how little room they have!
At this point you're probably picturing the scene as a 336lb, 6' tall, ex-bodyguard with a pierced nose, skinhead is running hurridly through an airport and I can tell you that EVERYBODY moved out of my way quite rapdily.
so, back to plane 2 Toronto to Vegas.
mmmmmm a lovely breeze from the air conditioning to cool me off (which did last for the full journey)
which is more than can be said for the entertainment system (again) - now, as a scaredy passenger what goes through my mind is "hmmmm if they cant get a tv to work, how in the hell are they able to keep this damn plane up in the air??"
all this stuff worries me!!
Luckily the lady/man steward/stewardess was able to placate me by telling me "feel special as that person in the hat 4 rows in front has no tv and is sitting in sick"
Sleeping was my best option for that flight.
Fantastic time was had in Vegas (maybe that's for another review)
Now, for the flights home just reverse that story!!! Jeeeeez
Another 13ish hours of pure boredom
Was offered 5% discount off my next booking with Air Canada for the inconvenience - but I don't feel that I want to travel with them again.
so, to sum up: bad:
no entertainment for 13 hours
staff really didn't care
connecting flights dont offer enough time
sign posts differ from announcements at Toronto airport
If the entertainment system had have worked it would have offered a great variety of entertainment
I'm based in the UK, and hold a bmi frequent flyer card: bmi and Air Canada are both in the Star Alliance, so I've flown with AC a number of times within North America and more often across the Atlantic in economy and Executive First.
AC generally offers a two class service: on long-haul this means economy and executive first. Both cabins on all planes are getting an "extreme makeover" (XM) which should be complete by 2009. XM planes are indicated on the AC website when you make your booking, and offer a very high standard of in-flight entertainment on demand, and on long-haul routes a very comfortable Executive First herringbone shaped lie-flat suite.
In economy AC is good value: where they compete with other lines Tango and Tango Plus fares are often cheaper than the competition, and across the Atlantic I've often found surprisingly good deals from the UK to the USA via Montréal or the new terminal in Toronto.
In Executive First you can expect decent airport lounges with well-stocked bars and reasonable on-board service. I've not tried the lie flat suite, but older planes are long overdue upgrading from older business class seats. In-flight cuisine is distinctly average, especially in Executive First. Good wine list.
So overall, I consider AC when flying UK-USA, because connections via Toronto are often good value and smoother than with other North American airlines and US hub airports.
This year we flew transatlantic for the first time with Air Canada. We had flown twice before with them on domestic flights from Quebec City to Toronto and also from San Francisco to Toronto. Both domestic flights had been OK. The first from Quebec City we had enjoyed but it was far too short a flight on which to judge the airline. The second flight was an awkward 4 hour flight on an A320 which we didn't enjoy at all. This started our hatred of Airbus jets, feeling frankly sick at the end from the constant yawing of the aeroplane. Thank goodness Boeing got their Fly by Wire systems better developed that the aircraft don't seem to be constantly readjusting left and right the whole flight. We didn't judge the airline on its choice of aircraft at that time though, and so when we needed a flight to Montreal the Friday of Grand Prix weekend from London and the return leg back from Toronto, we chose Air Canada. Our flights were about £550 each which we purchased through Expedia (recommended) for a June departure. It must be said that often Air Canada's schedule to Canada is predictably good, so if the airport you want to fly in to and out of at the end of your holiday are in Canada, Air Canada will probably offer you the best schedules. For a multi-centre holiday it isn't unusual to be flying into a US airport and out from a Canadian one, and so often British Airways are the obvious choice due to being able to have non-stop flights both ways. We arrived at Heathrow on a Friday to catch our 1.30pm flight. The main reason we chose Air Canada was because the alternative BA flight leaves after 4pm, meaning we would miss out on our hors d'oeuvres at the Queen Elizabeth (see my review of the Queen Elizabeth in Montreal and the Grand Prix weekend) - what a reason!. The check in queue was relatively short compared to BA, and so we quickly made our way to the desk. The formalities were completed swiftly, and we were able to ki
ll some time airside. This is a BIG disadvantage of flying Air Canada - Terminal 3. Compared to Terminal 4 it is really depressing and dated, and with very few places where you can actually see any aircraft. There are various places to grab a snack, but unlike the other Terminals there is no Wetherspoons (sob!), which means if you need a pub style snack or a quick drink before your flight, you are almost obliged to visit Ye Old Shakespeare Ale House. The name says it all, it is what I am sure foreign visitors think all British pubs are like (and unhappily the majority are!) - dark, dingy, smoky, limited food (sandwiches just in a canteen style chiller) and steep prices. I love grabbing a sandwich and a drink from Wetherspoons before a flight, with the knowledge you can open a bill and put in on your credit card (no worries with cash), with reasonable prices and good wines and food. So as I say flying from T3 is a big deterrent. Before long we boarded our flight and were seated in 13a and c (there was no b) on an Airbus A330. This was the first time we had flown on a A340/330 jet and we were curious how it would compare to the Boeing 777. Air Canada are one of the few North American airlines not to order the Boeing jets, which smacks of them trying to be different from their south of border neighbours. Apart from Boeing 747s and 767s, the newer members to their fleet are Airbus. This should be a big factor in whether you fly with them. Fortunately the A330's are configured 2-4-2 so if you are travelling as a couple this is quite convenient. The seat pitch was quite generous, and my husband had plenty of room in front of his knees, unlike sometimes with BA. I would say the seat pitch is very similar to United Airlines transatlantic, and is not that much less than BA's premium economy. One of the first things that strike you though is the lack of seat-back TV screens, instead you have to crane your neck to see the few overhead sc
reens. Luckily we were near a bulkhead and for part of the flight I could see the screen in Business class which constantly played the map channel. It is great when airlines have this facility to see where you are, and how long you have to go, but it is not really very practical when you don't have personal TV screens, as for most of the flight the overhead screens are showing the movie etc. Shortly after take off we were served a drink, and then a short time later, the meal, accompanied by wine. I would say the meals are very average. Not that many airline meals are that enjoyable, but there was something quite unpleasant about the meals with Air Canada. My chicken was very strange tasting and the new potatoes were the only thing I could stomach. With the coffee, the cabin crew don't surrender the information that they also are serving liqueurs and it was only when someone behind us obviously knew the drill and asked for a liqueur that we realised we nearly missed out! After the food had been served, you are into the period of the flight where the film is the only thing to occupy you. Sometimes with North American airlines the choice is pretty good, but on our flight out the only option was 'The Shipping News', with no alternative of listening to the music channel or another film like on other airlines. The cabin crew are sufficiently friendly, and in common with lots of North American airlines are a little older than average. I wouldn't say they make you feel particularly special but just do what is expected of them and no more. I always found Canadian Airlines quite an enjoyable airline to fly with, and now you can't help thinking Air Canada are really aware of their monopoly in and to Canada. Maybe if Canadian Airlines had still been around with their code share with BA, the standards to Canada would have improved. It is hard to imagine how with competition Air Canada would have avoided updating their in-flight ente
rtainment when practically all the major airlines flying across the Atlantic have the technological distractions, from multi channel video options to games! The flight was uneventful, with very few comments from the flight deck, and shortly before landing we were served afternoon tea. We absolutely hated the A330, being much noisier than a 777, and with the same problem we encountered on our flight on the A320. The plane even when flying with little turbulence has a very sick-making side to side motion. It wasn't so apparent until we got closer to our destination, and the clouds cleared to expose the ground and therefore some perspective. When looking out of the window at the ground, you could see the aeroplane wing dipping and rising as the aircraft moved from side to side. It was difficult to look out of the window without feeling quite nauseous, and this motion stayed with me the rest of the day. Our return flight from Toronto at 8pm was on a 747-400 combi. We were delayed on the ground for over an hour as there was a problem with one of the engines, but we just about managed to take off before the flight scheduled after ours to Heathrow. This time the configuration was typical 747 economy, 3-4-3. The cabin crew on our return trip were rather more abrupt than on the way out. As always we were instructed to shut our blind, which always annoys me. Why do they give you eye shades if the whole section is ordered to shut the blind anyway - aaahhh! When myself and my husband got up to stretch our legs, we stood by the emergency exit with the gentleman who was seated next to us, and he was looking out of the small window on the door. A flight attendant went ballistic, ordering him to get away from the door. We all stood open mouthed. I realise tensions are high following September the 11th, but surely they tell the cabin crew in training that you can't physically open the door while the flight is in progress? Considerin
g he was doing absolutely nothing wrong, her attitude was way over the top. One little note - the Duty Free prices in-flight are pretty good. My husband got a bottle of Bombay Gin for $18 (£7.50) but best to check the prices on the way out as often prices at the Canadian airports are even better (especially at Pearson, Toronto). We got off the flight, not particularly frustrated or unhappy about anything but just pretty underwhelmed. Considering economy travel is a question of trade-offs, I am not sure Air Canada supplies enough incentives to excuse their weaknesses. It all depends what your priorities are. If you appreciate a couple of extra inches of leg room, and the schedules suit your needs, then Air Canada may be the option for you. The food and service are just OK so shouldn't really influence you one way or another compared with BA or similar. What might be the deciding factor is the behind-the-times in-flight entertainment, especially if you have children to entertain or a longish flight to contend with, and the type of aircraft they use. My review of BA is far from complimentary but I would choose it or an alternative every time if the flight was on a 777. Actually now BA have got rid of their terribly old 747-200's, I would even prefer flying with them to Air Canada regardless of aircraft because I know the time will pass relatively quickly with their updated World Traveller with every seat having a seat-back TV. Nothing would get me back on an A330 or A340, unless the alternative was very very poor. A review I read before I travelled with Air Canada said it was "North America's Aeroflot" and I understand what they meant now. The statement may be a little harsh, but it is easy to see what they were getting at, compared to other airlines like American, United and Continental.
(IMPORTANT NOTE AT END OF THIS REVIEW RE DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS) Bumbling Inspector Thompson had been on the scene for quite some time, yet we still appeared nowhere nearer to finding out who had done the dastardly deed. Meanwhile, one of the servants started to piece together the clues. Finally, the truth dawned on her. It was obvious that the killer must have been... "...shortly coming in to land. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah..." (Followed by exactly the same, but in French and spoken as slowly and with as many pauses as possible.) Blank screen. Okay, so Air Canada reserves its best inflight film until last, which it then blanks out as soon as the plot heads towards the finale. Then again, most airlines tend to do that. What I'd like to find out, though, is not only who the murderer was in "Gosford Park", but just who shot Air Canada in the foot? Who killed off their apparent previous good reputation? Go on, own up. Whodunit? Was it the staff who originally dealt with my booking? Well, everything seemed to go fine initially. I booked through a travel agent, Frontier Travel, to fly out from London Heathrow to Calgary on 24th May and then back home from Vancouver to Heathrow on 6th June. We had been given a choice between Air Transat, Air Canada or British Airways. As we had no intention of using a charter flight (the very basic service tends to be fine for short trips but a little uncomfortable for long haul), we didn't pick Air Transat. Unfortunately, British Airways' destinations did not include Calgary, so that eliminated them as a possibility. We were left with Air Canada - a good choice of direct flights at the very decent price of £567 Hospitality Class (Economy) per person via Frontier Travel. Due to a couple of medical conditions, it is highly recommended, for my safety as well as comfort, that I am assigned a seat with extra legroom, such as
a bulkhead seat. I mentioned this at the time of booking and was asked to provide a letter to this effect from my GP. Which I duly did, at a cost of £9. When my travel agent confirmed my booking had gone ahead with no problems, I began to relax and look forward to our holiday. Oh, if only things were that simple. A couple of weeks later, the telephone rang. It was my GP's receptionist, informing me that Air Canada had faxed a large and complex form over to the surgery for completion. This was required, according to the airline, in order to comply with my request for extra legroom. And I was going to have to cough up another £33 for this to be done. Oh, joy of joys. Although I really was not at all happy about spending £42 on guaranteeing extra legroom (the "joy of joys" bit was me being sarcastic, surprisingly enough), the prospect of being crippled with pain or, worse, developing another deep vein thrombosis (DVT), resulted in me instructing them to go ahead. Already Air Canada's reputation had taken a bit of a battering in my eyes and we had yet to set foot on one of their 'planes, but perhaps Customer Services would come to the rescue with a little resuscitation? When we had calmed down enough to compile a letter of complaint without using naughty four-letter words, we sent it off to Air Canada's Customer Services UK-based Department, expressing our disappointment with my treatment thus far. Impressively, it took just over a week for us to receive a reply to our letter. Even more impressively, the Customer Services representative stated that the questionnaire was completely unnecessary in this case, an apology was proffered and the entire £42 refunded to us. Our faith in Air Canada had immediately been restored. Three cheers for AC! Hip, hip hurray, etc. (It would be most helpful if, at this point in my review, you could hum a quietly ominous tune. Just like in th
ose films where everything seems to be tickety-boo but you just know fate has decreed otherwise. Thank you kindly.) Next suspect - the check-in staff. On arrival in at the Air Canada check-in area, we were very pleasantly surprised to see that the queue was not disconcertingly long and that a decent number of staff were manning the desks, meaning that we didn't have long to wait at all. The lady who dealt with us really couldn't have been pleasanter or more helpful if she'd tried. Absolutely faultless. I verified that we had indeed been assigned seats with extra legroom and was shown that both our outbound and return tickets were printed with our seat numbers and marked "not to be changed". Huge relief. Our flight was delayed by two hours. Slightly annoying, but not a great big deal. Mind you, from conversations we overheard around us, this appears to be pretty much the norm with Air Canada. Finally, we were allowed to board the 'plane. Okay, so having crossed the check-in staff off our list of suspects, maybe the butlers...erm...I mean the flight attendants...did it? We were greeted as we boarded, big smiles and cheery "hi"s, along with directions to our bulkhead seats. I have to say that I found the actual seats themselves pretty comfortable and much more suitable for those with back problems than the soft, slouchy ones that seem to be favoured by most airlines. The legroom in the normal (non-extra-legroom) seats wasn't bad, either. Apparently, their seat pitch is usually somewhere between 32 to 34 inches (about 81-86 cm). As is usual with transatlantic flights, we were provided with a small pillow and thin (but surprisingly warm) blanket. The seats were equipped with an individual reading light (controlled by a button on the armrest) and a foldaway table. A fairly readable Air Canada magazine was also provided, along with the obligatory dut
y-free catalogue, safety instruction card and sick bag. I was pleased to note the safety instructions not only included what to do in event of an emergency, but also exercises recommended to improve circulation - very useful in helping to prevent DVT. Early during the flight, headsets were handed out for use in conjunction with the in-flight entertainment programme. These were by far the most comfortable I've used so far (those provided by Virgin Atlantic tend to really hurt my ears and appear to be made for the sole use of people with enormous heads). Plugged into the arm rest socket, these enabled us to access a number of musical channels, catering for various tastes, and also allowed us to listen to the films or television programmes being shown on the communal screens. (Despite Virgin's painful headsets, I really missed the individual wee telly screens Mr Branson's company provides.) We had to crick our necks, twisting them right round to the side, in an attempt to distinguish images on the tiny screens placed at certain points in the side aisles, with light glaring onto them, turning the picture almost sepia. Due to the two-hour delay, then the three hours-plus after lift-off it took the overworked staff to finally reach us, it was about 5.30pm by the time we had lunch. By airline standards, the meal was pretty decent, really, with a choice of either chicken or fish for those who hadn't stipulated special options (eg vegetarian, vegan, kosher, etc) when they booked their flight. Best of all, it came with a choccy dessert. Just prior to this, we had been served with a choice of drink and a small packet of pretzels. At various times throughout the flight, we were provided with hot paper towels, drinks and finally, a sandwich and scone with jam and clotted cream. Towards the end, we were handed the customs forms which needed to be completed by non-Canadian residents. Despite the fact that they w
ere obviously overworked, the in-flight attendants were always polite, friendly and very helpful indeed. No harm to Air Canada's reputation there. I think now we'll skip the uneventful landing at Calgary Airport and the unbelievably slow Canadian customs procedures (not Air Canada's fault, anyway.) One lovely, lovely holiday later, it was time to return home. Not at all worried about potential problems with ensuring my seat with extra legroom had been assigned, thanks to the enthusiastic reassurances we had previously been given, we arrived an extra hour early (in addition to the required 3 hours prior to check-in). We smiled and laughed and joked with the delightful check-in man. (Remember that ominous music I asked you to hum a while ago. Well, you might like to reprise it now.) Then I looked at our boarding passes and noticed our seat numbers were different. I asked why this was so, as I had certain medical conditions and we had been assured they would not be changed. He checked his computer screen. After a slight pause, he informed us that our 'plane had been subsituted and, upon further questioning, told me our new seat allocations did not include provision for extra legroom. Apparently, despite us arriving four hours before our flight was due to take off, the seating had already been allocated and there was nothing he could do about it. I pushed him further and was told there was one bulkhead seat available, but my husband would have to sit somewhere else in the 'plane. Now I know I should probably have accepted these separate seats, but it was all such a last-minute shock and I was afraid I'd be ill and my husband wouldn't be there to help me. So I expressed my disappointment at being let down and we ended up seated together, but without the extra legroom. Thankfully, my GP had provided me with anti-coagulant injections to be taken 2 hours before ea
ch flight. I also wore compression stockings and made sure I carried out even more exercises than usual to increase my blood circulation. When we arrived back in London, I was in a fair bit of pain after having to sit and exercise awkwardly due to the lack of legroom. By that evening, I was crippled with sciatica and, although (thankfully) it hasn't developed into a bad flare-up of my arthritic disease yet, I have had to cancel all of my arrangements so far this week and am still no better. At least I don't appear to have developed a DVT. So, finally, who was the culprit that killed off Air Canada's reputation in my eyes? The initial mix-up over my GP's letter and questionnaire were sorted out by AC's extremely helpful customer services. The check-in staff seemed to do what they could and the flight attendants were excellent, despite the pressure they were obviously under. Having spoken with other passengers just before our return flight, we discovered that many of them had also experienced Air Canada's incompetence at assigning seats. In addition, plenty of people had been completely left off the passenger list for some bizarre reason. Apparently, this has become a regular little foible of Air Canada's. One kindly and concerned Australian gentleman told me he always kicks up a fuss at check-in when AC mess around with his booking. He said that usually works pretty well and advised me to do the same next time. Next time? As if. One of the other reviews in this section mentions that Air Canada's service has deteriorated badly since it became part of the Star Alliance. As this was our first (and very probably last) experience of flying with this airline, I can't confirm or deny this. From what I've heard, though, it could well be the case. Comfort-wise, I'd say that Air Canada aren't too bad, but they do appear to be rather unreliable, to say the least - a
nd not just for those with special requirements. As for whodunit, I can't say for sure, but j'accuse probably either the directors of AC or the whole damn Star Alliance group, as I suspect they're the likely culprits. They're certainly going to have to indulge in a little reincarnation of their reputation before I use them again. To be honest, I don't care whodunit any more. I'm just determined that they won't get the chance to dunit to me again. * "Whodunit" does actually translate into French as "Whodunit", but that would have spoiled my fun and made the title less effective. Besides, the Québecois would likely condemn my use of an anglicism as an anathema. ----IMPORTANT NOTE---- Everyone should be aware of the potential threat of deep vein thrombosis. What not everyone knows is that this isn't just something that can develop during flights - you are also at risk during long periods of sitting still, even while travelling by car, as I know to my own cost. There are, however, steps you can take to help prevent this. One thing I always ensure is that I am wearing compression stockings during long journeys. These are now widely available in many supermarkets, pharmacies and shops selling travel items. You should also exercise at frequent periods during your journey (your doctor should be able to advise you of effective exercises), make sure you don't become dehydrated (drink plenty of water) and avoid tight clothing. Air Canada have provided some good information for anyone concerned about this or other flight-related health concerns at this web address - www.aircanada.ca/services/medical/
I thought it was time I visited family in Toronto, those of you who have read my previous 'op' will know that I purchased my ticket quite cheaply with expedia. This went well and my itinery was supposed to be as follows: Mon 5th March BD585 MAN - LHR arrive 10.15am AC865 LHR - YUL arrive 15.50pm (local time) AC149 YUL - YYZ arrive 18.17pm (local time) Yes I know 3 changes of aircraft but what did I expect for a cheapie flight of £250 but as both airlines are members of Star Alliance which basically means that I can check-in straight through to final destinantion...mmmmm Anyway on with the show..... =======MAN-LHR THE CHECK-IN ======= Those of you who know me, know that I use bmi quite often, on checking-in I was assigned seats for all my flights and that there would be no need to check-in again and that I would only need to retrive my luggage at Montreal to clear customs . After which I could leave it at Montreal Customs in the connecting baggage section, meaning I would not need to re-check it as it was still 'airside' so to speak. ======= MAN-LHR THE FLIGHT ======= bmi rank in the Top 6 of the Seat-Pitch League Table(source Sunday Times), for those who don't know:Seat-Pitch is the distance from one point on a seat to the same point on the seat in front. bmi have a seat pitch of 32in which is just above BA. The aircraft was a new Airbus A321 which was decked out in it's new livery inside and out so it looked fresh and bright inside the cabin. Breakfast was served even on this short flight of 35mins this consisted of scrambled egg, bacon, tomato, roll, butter and marelade washed down with OJ and tea/coffee. The cabin crew worked well and efficently to serve a full plane but it did seem a bit rushed but given time constraints a good job well done. On arrival at LHR T1 I had to transfer to T3 which I wasn't looking forward to but was very painless
as it's as simple as going down some stairs, short bus ride to T3 and back up some more stairs and Hey Presto T3!! It took about 15mins in total to transfer terminals and the added bonus of my baggage transferred for me. ======= LHR-YUL THE FLIGHT ======= Air Canada has a seat pitch of 33in again more genourous than other 'worlds favourite airlines'. The plane I travelled on was an Airbus A330-300 which was fine apart from AC's colour scheme of 'mucky green' covers on the seats seemed to make it look old and dated. The cabin crew were quite friendly but they seemed to be quite tired looking and a bit more mature looking than other airlines! One major drawback with Air Canada is that because French is Canada's second language everything spoken over the tannoy is said 1st in english and repeated in french. Once airbourne dinner was served, the usual Chicken or Salmon followed by cake etc.. A complimentary bar was then served, followed by the normal in-flight movie however the movie screens that came down from the over head lockers were a bit awkward to see if seated in an odd row. In-flight was pretty attentive though mind you it's not as if they had anywhere better to go! The fun started on arrival in Montreal, due to late departure from LHR because of baggage being loaded late and a flight attendant running late we arrived in Montreal 1 hour late which meant I only had 45 mins to make my connecting flight. However this should not be a problem as I was already checked in for my connecting flight and my baggage would be taken care of...or so I thought! After clearing customs I handed my baggage into the connecting flight centre and was informed that my baggage was NOT checked through to Toronto and that I had to go and check it in again, I informed the AC rep that this was not the case and pointed out that the airline tag had Toronto's airport code in big black letters as it's fi
nal destination. No he said "there is no sequence number on it I can't let you put it through" (what's a sequence number?) apparently it's a series of numbers underneath the airport code. After repeated exchanges between us I proceeded to the AC check-in desks where I stood in line for about 15mins at which it was getting nearer to my connecting flight departing..once at the desk I explained the situation to which the AC clerk replied "your case as been checked through and they other guy should have taken it",needless to stay my temperature was reaching boiling point the check-in clerk then said it was too late to carry on to my connecting flight and that she was booking me onto a later flight, fine not a lot I can do about that then, I asked to use a phone to call Toronto to make alternative arrangements the other end and was told(pointing her finger towards the other end of the terminal)"payphones are over there". I got no assistance when I asked just sorry it's not my fault. It cost $22 on the phone making calls to Toronto sorting out other arrangements and no help from AC at all, It's not the money just the principal of the fact. ======= EPILOGUE ======= I eventually made it to Toronto at 20.45 that evening, tired, peed off and stressed out thanks to Air Canada. I've learnt my lesson the hardway in that it pays to spend a little more and FLY DIRECT!!! Those of you who are still reading this and have'nt fallen asleep by now, my return journey was a totally different ball game as Air Canada played by the rules and it all went like plain sailing!! even though it was a reverse of my outbound flights. More seems alot more easier to get back to the UK! or perhaps they just wanted shot of me.
I just came back from my Grandfather's funeral in Canada and we had flown Air Canada. He died last week and so my mum and I had to fly out to Canada for the funeral etc. We got the phonecall at about 5pm on sunday and so had to find a flight out to Toronto for the next day. British Airways quoted me a price of £2570 roughly EACH for a flexible return ticket. I called up Air Canada and their London office was closed, but it transferred me automatically to their HQ in Canada where I spoke to a very helpful lady. Initially she quoted a price of about £2500, but when she found out that it was my grandfather's funeral she told me there was a bereavement rate that gave you a discount of 75% on any of the flights. I hope you are never in the position that you need to take advantage of this, but if you are, then bear Air Canada in mind. I was about to book two of those tickets, but then she found a cheaper fare of about £600 for an open-ended return which my mum needed, and a fixed return for me of £300. Considering that I was booking about 18 hours before we were due to fly out, I am extremely impressed with the results. A big thank you to Air Canada who made a difficult time a lot easier. As to the flights themselves, Air Canada have an older fleet than say Virgin Atlantic, so there aren't tv screens in the back of the seat headrests and the in-flight entertainment is thereby quite limited. Food is adequate and the drinks are free as with most airlines. Punctuality has always been good, and staff are always ready to assist.
I used to fly alot both in and out of Canada. More recently trnasatlantic and I have to say that Canadain was always #1 with me. Air Canada was both great and terrible. It seems to me it's less the airline and more the route and crew that make the difference. But how do you know??? You can't. May as well buy a loto ticket. But I have a tip or two..they have never let me down. Always smile at the check in person and be pleaseant. If they have a full flight ( when don't they) upgrades will go to someone amiable first. it does work. Make lots of eye contact with YOUR attendant. you are passenger number 1345267 this year. So if you can make yourself a pleasnt individual they will respond in kind. And the biggest tip. Always expect the worst. I have never had my expectaions met in this case on Canadian or Air Canada. Lots of other airlines but not this one.
Tried them for the first time because there is only one other direct flight from Tel Aviv to Montreal and I was very unimpressed. At first the leg room appeared extremely generous but that was achieved by shortening the seat. Not a very comfortable alternative, but a foot rest was provided which somewhat compensated for it. I have since seen it in other new planes so I guess all airlines go for it. It was a night flight of over ten hours and two meals were provided. Both were quite skimpy, and for breakfast only Kosher meals were available. I don't appreciate eggs drowned in oil which get rigor mortis on the plate. The staff was very friendly and courteous which is about the best thing I can say for them.The price was not an icentive either. They have a practice not known to me on the Canadian side, namely that the actual seats can be booked months in advance. When I conrirmed our flight back a few days before departure I was informed that I got the last two side by side seats available.
Since Air Canada and Canadian Airlines merged a few months ago into one giant airline to service most of Canada's domestic and international flights the little guy has really lost out. I've been flying with Air Canada for years, ever since I was little babelet and crawled under the seats. For years the staff were charming, the service was good, if the plane was late they'd do their level best to make sure you got where you wanted to go as soon as possible even if it meant them having to bump you up to Business Class. I couldn't fault them. Until now. The merger has caused severe upset in terms of the way Air Canada handles itself. My husband and I travelled to Canada for Xmas to see my family. We left from Dublin as I'd got a very good deal from an internet travel company in the Republic of Ireland (and as we live in Belfast it's only a train ride away). From Dublin it was London and then London Ottawa, Ottawa Edmonton. I attempted to buy the tickets from my local USIT office (student travel agency) but found that the tickets were prohibitively expensive (more so than even a normal travel agency) as Air Canada was the only airline they dealt with (mutter mutter). All went well until we arrived in London and found lo! even though my husband and I had booked together we were on opposite sides of the plane (and we booked in early!!) attempts to get this altered were met with 'Oh... well we'll see if we can get you changed when you board the plane' but as we were in the middle of three middle seats this was an exercise in futility. The flight was then delayed by an hour and a half... as we sat on the plane. The stewards and stewardesses were just the grumbliest folk you'd ever meet and were positively rude to a woman with crippling arthritis when she asked them for help. Still we made it through and got our flight to Edmonton, although our next flight was delayed and packed with people who were supposed to be
on other flights. And of course despite my bitching (gentle persuasion) my husband and I were again halfway across the plane from each other. I couldn't help noticing a load of very anxious people as we walked through Edmonton international who had all their Air Canada flights delayed... funnily all the other airlines seemed to be running on time. We arrived in Edmonton late. Sigh... Before our next leg out of Canada (Edmonton-Toronto-Toronto-London-London-Dublin) I telephone Air Canada to ask about getting our seats pre booked so we'd be near each other. I waited 20 minutes on the phone for their customer service man, who told me it was the airport's problem. The airport of course said it was Air Canada's problem. Sigh. Now my travel agent and I had organised a nice 3 hour wait in between the Edmonton Toronto Toronto London flight as there was no way I wanted to miss it and I know sometimes things do happen. We arrived at Edmonton International and booked in and were put on another flight as our flight was now delayed. We now had 1 hour and a half to get across Toronto airport... tight, but ok. We had also been put at the front of the plane in business class because we'd have to run, lovely... and were together... sigh. Contented we sat and waited for our flight to be called, and then our names were called. We were being moved to the back of the plane and apart. We took our seats at the very very back of the plan and ended up with the most vile airplane food I've ever tasted. I swear I was supposed to eat what looked and tasted like sweat sock in cheese sauce. And could we have asked for anything else? nooooo... The flight left late and half way through I contacted the stewardess to ask could our next flight be alerted as it seemed unlikely we'd be able to meet our London plane. She went off to fetch someone else, who fetched someone else who came up with the brilliant plan of moving us to the front of th
e airplan in the last five minutes of the flight and then we were told ' an Air Canada agent will escort you to your London flight'. Sighs of relief. Towards the end of the flight we called the flight attendant over to ask about going up, and she promptly denied all knowledge of it... as did her friend. Finally, another attendant came up and said yes we could move up. So husband and I walked the whole length of the plane to sit in hurredly acquired business class seats. We struggled off the plane, ready to run, ready to be guided by our escort who would show us the way... and met a small woman holding out bits of paper with flight details on them. 'But what about the London flight?' I gasped. 'I suppose you could run' she replied and walked off. AGH!!! husband and I run off followed by two others, we quickly grabbed the attention of a little cart that just happened to be sitting there, and thank god but there was a terminal bus waiting just by chance and we ran in just as they were doing the final boarding call. We had made it. And then my husband promptly had an asthma attack. As we sat on the plan congratulating ourselves I checked the new flight details we were given, to this magical flight that was meant to be leaving first thing the next morning... and found had we missed our London flight, it would have been over 24 hours before they intended to fly us out and then it would be to... Paris. Getting the luggage back is another adventure best not told to the weak stomached. So beware when flying with Air Canada/Canadian Airlines. Plan for delays, especially out of Toronto. Bring your own food and don't look twice at the air stewards who are so over worked they seem half zombie and are as friendly as the food.Had we actually paid the original asking price of nearly 2000£ for our tickets I would have been spitting nails.
Do you remember those advertisements for Air Canada some years ago where the line was that it was so good you would not want to get off. Well that may be a bit overstating the case, but having flown with them several times they weren't bad. OK they weren't perfect but who is these days? On the long haul over to Calgary the planes were as comfortable as they could be in Economy, and the one time I managed to fly business class they were excellent. There was more than enough room to stretch out. The food was not bad. Although in economy it was the typical fare you expect, it was certainly at the better end of the spectrum. The drinks were offered fairly frequently as well. None of this you've had your drink for the flight attitude. Business class was obviously somewhat better. They even asked me by name what I wanted to drink as I sat down. The food was significantly better than in economy as you would expect. The cabin staff were generally efficient and friendly. One lady I remember was particularly good, chatting to people as required and doing more than just the basic minimum. Overall they ran a very reliable and efficient service. And for the acid test, would I use them again. Certainly yes. As airlines go these days they were good, providing a good level of service.
I was impressed by Air Canada on a recent trip from the UK to Calgary. I had left my coat at the security check before passport control and only realised once I had boarded. I mentioned this to the cabin staff who radioed through and managed to find it and sent it out on the next plane to Calgary. They not only sent it for me but had it delivered to my hotel the very next day, once it had arrived, completely free of charge. Everyone was most helpful and I was very impressed.