Thursday, January 11, 2018

Air Canada vs All Nippon: Business Class on the B787 Dreamliner

On a recent premier economy trip from Vancouver to Singapore in August 2017, I had a lucky and rather unusual break of getting the return legs in business class, almost at the same fare as premier economy. This is a summary of my experience in the business class of both airlines.

The All Nippon flight was between Singapore and Tokyo and it was a shorter overnight flight of about 7 hours. Check in was efficient as expected and I was whisked into an exclusive area to clear security and customs. While waiting for my flight I was allowed to use the outstanding Singapore Airlines Business Class lounge, known as the SilverKris Lounge, with probably the largest and best food selection the at I have ever seen in a lounge.

Perhaps because it was a shorter flight, the business class in this Dreamliner was unfortunately in a ‘domestic’ 2-2-2 layout, as opposed to a more modern and convenient staggered configuration. There was a solid separator between the two seats, which provided some privacy, but the window passenger still had to climb over the legs of the aisle passenger or had to ask him to get up from his seat.

The meal was slightly disappointing, with some tasty Japanese options, but it felt a bit rushed, with everything served at once.

The seat converted into a flat bed and it was comfortable. The crew was attentive and the service generally good.

The second leg was on Air Canada’s Dreamliner between Tokyo and Vancouver. In Tokyo I could choose between different lounges, due to my business ticket and my Miles and More status, but the United lounge turned out to be pretty good.

While Air Canada have had some issues over many years with surly service, old planes and something to be avoided if you could, I was pleasantly surprised for the third time over the past year by how much they have improved the quality of international business and premier economy class, and even economy.

The service was friendly and efficient, and the crew addressed all business passengers by their last names when taking food and drink orders. The food and wine on offer were good and the entertainment system with its large 46 cm touch-screens offered hundreds of movies. 

The cabin was laid out in a staggered fashion, with each of the four seats across having access to an aisle, the middle two seats completely separated and with each seat in its own private cubicle.

Comparing the flights, I can say without hesitation that Air Canada’s business class was considerably better that that of All Nippon. 

While there is huge room for improvement on AC's domestic flights and with the service levels at the check-in counters at Canadian airports, Air Canada has achieved great strides in improving its offering on international routes, especially in business class, over the past few years.