A few years ago, unless you lived in Sydney, travelling from Brisbane to Canada usually meant flying through Sydney and/or Los Angeles. Air Canada Australia is certainly making an effort to turn things around. Air Canada’s Brisbane to Vancouver direct flights, which started in June 2016, made it much easier for Queensland travellers to make the decision to holiday in Canada. The Brisbane to Vancouver flights reduces the travelling time by five hours. And new direct flights to Canada from Melbourne will offer a similar advantage to Victorians.
In the past, I’d try my best to avoid flying Air Canada. But things have improved a lot since Air Canada began flying the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner to and from Brisbane. Here’s my review.
Air Canada Brisbane to Vancouver flight AC36
Brisbane to Vancouver flight time: 13 hours and 35 minutes. AC36 departs Brisbane at 1040am and arrives in Vancouver at 715am the same day.
Air Canada check in
I was one of the first to arrive at the Air Canada check in at Brisbane Airport. My shuttle from the Sunshine Coast dropped me off at Brisbane International Airport ahead of schedule. So, the Air Canada check in was devoid of queues.
The self-check-in terminals were simple to use. A scan of the barcode and a few taps on the screen spat me out a boarding pass and baggage tags.
A helpful staff member stopped to help me loop my baggage tags around the handles. And I dropped my bags at the bag drop.
Air Canada baggage rules allow two bags of up to 23kg each. Air Canada carry on rules permit one standard and one personal article. These include carry-on or roller bag, backpacks, briefcases, laptops, sports racquet or musical instrument.
With ample time to make my way through customs and do a round of the duty-free shops, I arrived at the gate feeling relaxed.
First impressions on board
On the way to the Economy cabin, I couldn’t help drooling at the pod-style seats in the Air Canada Business Class cabin and eyed the extra leg room in the Air Canada Premium Economy Cabin with envy.
The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner Economy Cabin looked bright and new.
Seats were laid out in a 3-3-3 configuration and there was plenty of space in the overhead bins.
Seat pitch: 78 cm (31 in), Seat width: 43 cm (17 in); Seat recline: 12 cm (5 in)
I considered paying the extra $130 to sit in a bulkhead (rows 18 or 31) or an exit row seat (row 31) but decided to choose an aisle seat (33D). But fortunately, on this particular flight, it didn’t matter which seat I was allocated as it was a lightly loaded flight.
I did get a bulkhead seat (18D) on the Vancouver to Brisbane flight and found myself seated next to a charming couple with an adorable three-month-old baby.
Luck was on my side. The baby was a dream to travel with, she slept right through the flight and thankfully she only woke up to scream as the aircraft began its descent into Brisbane.
When comparing the two seats, I preferred my seat choice on the Brisbane to Vancouver flight.
How to choose a seat in Economy
When flying Economy choosing the right seat can make a difference to your level of comfort during the flight.
The biggest surprise on this Air Canada Economy flight to Vancouver was that I had a row of three seats all to myself. Actually, so did half of the rest of passengers on the flight.
When choosing an Air Canada Economy seat, I’d go for a window or an aisle with an empty seat next to you, if possible.
If the flight is full, the last row at the back of the aircraft is a good choice because there are only two seats (instead of three) by the windows.
If you choose an exit row, I would definitely pick a window seat to avoid being bumped by passengers and crew walking past.
The Entertainment System
The pitch, width and recline of my seat was comfortable enough to watch 10 episodes of Versailles while enjoying a Tanqueray and Canada dry (gin and tonic), three-course dinner, snacks and drinks in between.
I had enough time to squeeze in a few winks before breakfast. There was really nothing more I could have asked for on this Air Canada Economy flight. Except for an upgrade!
Air Canada’s Panasonic eX3 in-flight entertainment system has touch screens at every seat and an intuitive interface. It has loads of movies and the latest Hollywood Blockbusters, an interactive moving map and games.
Crew members were surprisingly friendly and obliging.
Dinner was a bush tucker salad with lettuce, Asian braised beef with Jasmine rice, choy sum and carrots (the other choice was chicken cacciatore with fettuccine, green beans and carrots) and sticky date cake for dessert.
Dinner was served with a quaffable French red. The Ferrandiere Merlot Grenache Noir Cabernet Sauvignon seemed an appropriate choice of wine while watching the intrigue of Louis IV’s court.
Overall, I’d have to say the Air Canada food in Economy was predictably on par with other top tier airlines but not outstanding.
Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Air Canada has eight Boeing 787-8 and 29 787-9 Dreamliners.
The benefit to passengers is the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was designed to provide more comfort in the air with better humidity and temperature control and cleaner air.
As a contact lens wearer, flying long haul usually means I have to remove my contact lenses at some point during the flight. The dryness of the cabin in most aircraft makes it really uncomfortable to wear them for more than a few hours during the flight.
On this flight, I was most impressed that I didn’t have to remove my contact lenses. Actually, the humidity level in the cabin made my skin and eyes feel more comfortable than on the ground during a dry Queensland summer season.
Vancouver Airport arrival
The Air Canada Brisbane to Vancouver flight arrived on time at 720am with ample time to clear customs and catch the 11 am connecting flight to Whitehorse in Yukon Territory.
Vancouver Airport is bright and modern but there’s quite a long walk from the terminal to customs. If you have a laptop or heavy camera, I suggest packing it in a roller bag.
Australian passport holders require an eTA, which you need to apply for before from the Government of Canada’s official website before your flight. It costs $7 CAD and most eTA applications are approved within minutes.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is an impressive aircraft with features that makes this long-haul flight much more comfortable. Air Canada customer service in economy class has improved significantly. All in all, for Brisbane travellers, flying Air Canada is a pleasant trip and the most direct route to Canada.
Air Canada Australia Flights
Australia to Canada flights on Air Canada departs from three cities – Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Here’s a quick overview.
So if you’re planning a trip to the USA from Brisbane, it certainly makes sense to consider the direct flights to Vancouver from Brisbane. From Vancouver, it’s easy to connect to major cities in the USA.
What’s new is Air Canada’s Melbourne service four times a week between Vancouver and Melbourne from December 3.
The flights depart Melbourne at 1140am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
The 730 am arrival time in Vancouver makes it convenient to connect to other winter destinations in Canada and the USA.
Other airlines from Australia to Canada
When flying between Australia and Canada, Air Canada has the most direct flights. You can also fly to Vancouver with Qantas, Virgin Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Jetstar and Hawaiian Airlines. These airlines fly through Los Angeles, San Francisco or Honolulu.
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