Normally when I need to book a flight to Toronto, the first place I look is for award availability with American Airlines, so I can use British Airways Avios at a redemption rate of only 9K miles + $56 from either LGA or JFK in New York. Unfortunately, the times I needed for my Christmas travel this year were not available, so I began to search for revenue tickets.
I quickly remembered that I had received status with Air Canada through a status match earlier in the year, and that I had eUpgrade Credits and Maple Leaf Lounge passes that were going to be expiring in a couple months. As such, I looked for any possible flights which could make my holiday travel more enjoyable (in my warped, kind of nutty, travel & plane obsessed view of enjoyable).
While most flights between Newark (my preferred airport) and Toronto are on regional jets or tiny prop planes, I did manage to find a route that involved flying in one of Air Canada’s Executive First Suites on a 767 (albeit it for only 316 miles). I ended up with the following routing for $229 all-in:
Newark (EWR) – Montreal (YUL) – De Havilland Dash 8 Turboprop in Economy
3.5 hour layover in Montreal
Montreal (YUL) – Toronto (YYZ) – Boeing 767-300 in an Executive First Suite
Toronto (YYZ) – Montreal (YUL) – Embraer 190 in Business
1 hour layover Montreal
Montreal (YUL) – Newark (EWR) – Canadair in Economy
While this seems like an awful routing for what should be a 50-minute journey, I looked at it as an opportunity to not let my eUpgrade Credits and Maple Leaf Lounge Passes go to waste, try out a premium cabin, as well as earn 3K United miles given the 500-mile minimum and 50% bonus I receive as a Premier Gold.
Departing from Newark on Sunday (12/23) morning wasn’t nearly as hectic as I anticipated. I cleared security in less than five minutes, and my prop plane to Montreal left on time.
Bombardier Dash 8 at Newark (EWR)
Upon landing I had to go through customs and security again, but the lines weren’t too bad. I spent around two and half hours in the domestic Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, located near Gate 75 at YUL. The lounge was unimpressive and was typical of a domestic state-side lounge. There were snacks (chips, cookies, hummus, and fruit) and a self-serve bar with liquor, beer, and wine. The wifi was adequate but not super-fast. The bathrooms were very small, and not very well maintained. Overall it was fine for a short connection and I was able to get some work done and do a little plane watching.
De-icing in Montreal (YUL)
The flight to Toronto, while short, was a fun experience. I was seated in 2A on the internationally configured 767-300. There are 8 rows in the Executive First cabin in a 1-1-1 configuration. It’s worth noting that there is a ~4 foot wall in between seats A and F. So, there is significantly more privacy if you’re in an A seat. If you’re traveling with a companion, you would ideally want seats F and K in the same row, which both face inwards towards each other. I found the seat to be very comfortable, although I admittedly don’t have a ton of international premium cabin experience to compare to.
Air Canada 767-300 Executive First Class Suite – Seat 2A
Air Canada 767-300 Executive First – wall between seats A and F
I didn’t play too much with the in-flight entertainment, but noted that the TV comes out on an un-adjustable arm and is roughly an 11” screen. There is also 110V power port and USB port at each seat.
Air Canada 767-300 Executive First Class TV
Air Canada 767-300 Executive First power ports
Air Canada 767-300 Executive First TV / seat controls
On our short flight we were served a chicken pot pie (which I thought was pretty tasty) and a drink.
Air Canada 767-300 Executive First snack
The crew wasn’t overly friendly, but I also didn’t expect much in terms of service for such a short flight.
Overall I was happy with the experience and would definitely consider Air Canada as an option for a long-haul flight.