Air Canada 737 MAX 8 business class is fantastic (even at 6:30am)

Air Canada 737 MAX 8 business class is fantastic (even at 6:30am)

Even before flying Air Canada 737 MAX 8 business class for the first time, I knew it was going to be great. Unfortunately, this resulted in me being 100% satisfied without being surprised by anything. I hate when that happens.

The business class seats on the 737 MAX 8 (also known as the 737-8) are stylish, fairly comfortable, and the video screens are phenomenal.

The fact that they served a full meal on a 1 hour flight was just icing on the cake. Or, as you’re about to see in the pictures, it was more like salsa on the potatoes.

AC201
Calgary, AB (YYC) – Vancouver, AB (YVR)
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Aircraft: 737 MAX 8
Registration: C-GELJ
Duration: 1 hour 6 minutes
Seat: 4F (Business Class)

Air Canada 737 MAX 8 side view C-GELJ
Air Canada 737 MAX 8 side view illustration by NorebboStock.com.
AC201 flight track
Our route from Calgary to Vancouver this morning as AC201.

My full review of Air Canada 737 MAX 8 business class from Calgary to Vancouver

The truth is I didn’t really want to take this flight. Having flown in on a WestJet 787-9 in business class from Toronto the day before, I stayed the night at the Calgary Airport with the goal of continuing on home to San Diego today. A 6:30 AM flight sounded like a horrible idea, but that was my only option if I wanted to get home at a halfway decent hour.

Arrival at the airport

The Marriott Hotel connected directly to the airport was a lifesaver. I basically rolled out of bed, into the shower, and down into the airport within a span of 30 minutes. Having checked in online for this flight 24 hours prior, I was able to skip the Air Canada check-in queue and head directly towards the security checkpoint.

Air Canada priority check in YYC
The Air Canada Priority check in area here at YYC. $20 says I’m not the only person here who thinks 6:30am flights are ludicrous.
C gates YYC airport
My flight to Vancouver is departing from the C gates this morning. And I still can’t believe I voluntarily chose the most obnoxiously-timed flight of the day. Seriously?
SANspotter selfie YYC airport terminal C
Hold on a sec. My brain needs a few more minutes to process what is happening…
Gate c52 YYC airport
Thank goodness for the telephoto camera on my iPhone. I didn’t even have to get up to take a pic of the departure gate (C52).
Concourse C Calgary airport
BTW, this was the first time I had been in the domestic side of the Calgary Airport, and I have to say that I was impressed. This was easy to appreciate even at such a ridiculously early hour!

The boarding process for flight number 201 to Vancouver

After all of the effort I put into getting up so early, I really needed this flight to be on time today. Especially since I knew that I would have to go through US Preclearance upon arrival at YVR. I already know that 1 hour layovers are enough time in Vancouver (for all types of connections), but still. I’m a bit of a worrywart, ok?

Air Canada 737 max 8 Calgary airport
What’s not to like about an airplane with a bandit mask? This Air Canada 737 MAX 8 is my ride to Vancouver this morning.
Air Canada domestic business class boarding pass
Half of the boarding announcement was in French, and I was too far away to fully comprehend the English portion of it, but no worries. I got this. 

The boarding process started right on time. With my Zone 1 boarding pass, I was one of the very first passengers onboard.

Calgary airport jet bridge c concourse
Watch me get lost on the way to the plane. Yeah, I’m that tired.
SANspotter selfie Calgary airport jet bridge
Also, will someone please remind me never to take a 6:30am flight again if I don’t really have to? Thanks.
Air Canada 737-8 boarding door
Almost there. Although I see no sign of life, I do smell coffee and there is blue mood lighting. Things are already looking up.

My first impressions of the Air Canada 737 MAX 8 business class seats

Actually, this was officially my second impression. I had the chance to fly on an Air Canada 737 MAX 8 in economy class from San Diego to Toronto two days prior, and I got a pretty good look at the business class seats on my way to and from the bowels of economy.

Long story short, the business class seats on the 737 MAX 8 are really nice.

Air Canada 737 max 8 bulkhead business class seats
Say what you will about Air Canada (and I’ve heard some of you say some really nasty things), but these bulkhead business class seats on the 737 MAX 8 look fantastic.
Air Canada 737 max 8 bulkhead business class cabin
Right off the bat, this reminded me a lot of American Airlines A321neo first class. But hang with me for a sec, because you will soon see why there’s very good reason why Air Canada would likely be offended by that comparison…
Air Canada 737 max 8 business class vs economy class
Here’s a good pic showing a comparison of the business class seats with the economy seats. Yup, anyone who says “iT’s bAsIcAlLy eCoNoMy cLaSs!!1” can suck it. 
Air Canada 737-8 domestic business class seats
Seats 4E and 4F. I wish they were fully cloth seats, but knowing how disgusting we humans can be sometimes, I totally understand why they went the hybrid route.
Air Canada 737 max 8 business class video screens
The comparison I made with American Airlines earlier officially ends here. Air Canada didn’t cheap out on the in flight entertainment!
Air Canada 737 max 8 business class pre departure drinks
They did kind of cheap out on the pre departure drinks though. Naya? Never heard of it.
Air Canada 737 max 8 business class leg room
Leg room is really good. And if you look closely…
Air Canada 737 max 8 business class foot rest
…you’ll find the highly adjustable foot rest. These things are an acquired taste, and I’ve yet to fully understand their usefulness. Maybe my body is just weirdly shaped or something? I don’t know. 
Air Canada 737-8 business class seats row 4
Despite the insults I made about the pre departure drinks earlier…I’m totally nabbing those bottles of water if nobody sits there.
SANspotter selfie air Canada 737 max 8 business class
Or maybe not.
Air Canada 737 max 8 business class power outlets
I know. It’s really hard to be disappointed when sitting in domestic business class seats this good. They look great, and the individual power outlets (USB and electrical) are much appreciated.
Air Canada 737 max 8 business class video entertainment system
Best movie ever. Even at 6:30am!
Baby in air Canada domestic business class
You read my article about babies in business class, right?

The departure out of Calgary

As happy as I was to be in Air Canada domestic business class this morning, I probably would’ve been happier in WestJet 737-700 economy on a nonstop flight home to San Diego. After two days of traveling, I was more than ready to be home.

But hey. Business class is never really a bad place to be, so I couldn’t really complain. At least not a lot anyway.

Westjet 737-800 at YYC
It’s hard to convey motion in static pictures like this, so I just want to let you know that we’re pushing off the gate now.
Air Canada 737 max 8 safety video
WTF is that on the video screen?? This is normally where I’d make a positive comment about pushing off the gate right on time, but…I just can’t. 
Row 4 air Canada 737-8 domestic business class
Looks like the guy in 4A is trying to make whatever that is go away. And I don’t blame him one bit.
Air Canada 737 max 8 taxi to runway YYC
Whatever. It’s shaping up to be a beautiful morning for flying!
737 max 8 windows
Oh, and yes, we did push off the gate right on time.
Departing out or Calgary in an air Canada 737 max 8
Thanks for the hospitality Calgary! I promise I’ll stay longer take a later flight next time.

In-flight entertainment

As you saw in my review of Air Canada 737 MAX 8 economy class from San Diego to Toronto, the video entertainment on this aircraft is impressive. The selection of movies and TV shows it’s just bonkers (in a good way), and I really like the fact that the video screens are so large and bright.

Air Canada 737 max 8 video entertainment system home screen
This is the home screen of the video entertainment system, showing a beautiful picture of our destination. But seriously, have you ever seen an ugly picture of Vancouver? Me either.
Air Canada 737 max 8 video entertainment system main menu
And here is the main menu. It’s a lot to digest so early in the morning, but I’ll do my best.
Air Canada in flight entertainment options
We’ve come a long way from overhead projectors being aimed towards the bulkhead wall, haven’t we? The Air Canada in flight entertainment system is legit!
Air Canada domestic business class drink options
If you choose anything other than a Molson Canadian on a flight between Calgary and Vancouver, you’re doing it wrong.
Air Canada in flight map
Just double checking to be sure that I am indeed on a flight between Calgary and Vancouver. It is early after all, and there were a lot of gates and airplanes back at the airport.

My only complaint about the in flight entertainment is the audio. I would definitely recommend bringing your own headphones, because the complementary earbuds they hand out are pretty much worthless.

The food

After being served and outrageously delicious snack in Air Canada A321 domestic business class several months ago, I had high expectations for the meal service on this flight. Yes, Air Canada served a full breakfast on this short 1 hour flight between Calgary and Vancouver. And it was pretty good! We can only dream of US airlines being this generous.

Air Canada domestic business class eggs and potatoes breakfast
It was either this or French Toast. This looks pretty good and all, but as an American who has never tried Poutine, I was let down once again.
Air Canada domestic business class full breakfast
When was the last time you were served a meal like this on a 1 hour flight in the US? 1985 perhaps?
Air Canada domestic business food
I seriously don’t understand people who say they hate Air Canada.
SANspotter eating breakfast air Canada 737 max 8 business class
I would certainly like Air Canada more if they served Poutine for breakfast, but come on. Ain’t no reason for the hate!
Air Canada domestic business class meal tray
Good God how I love flying north of the border. BTW, I ate another complete breakfast in Air Canada A320 business class from Vancouver to San Diego just two hours later. It was shameful, but delicious. 

Seat comfort

Although a 1 hour flight was hardly enough time to properly evaluate the comfort of these seats, at least I have the experience to compare them with how the economy seats felt.

Basically, both the business class seats and the economy seats are equally firm. They both lack lumbar support as well. However, the business class seats are much wider with a lot more legroom. This will allow you to squirm around them a lot easier, which will make it easier to find a position that feels good(ish).

Crossed legs air Canada 737 max 8 business class
Yeah, I found these seats to be decently comfortable. But don’t take my word for it…
Lap child air Canada domestic business class
…because she seems comfortable as well. I didn’t hear a peep from her for the entire flight!

The arrival into Vancouver

The sun was just starting to rise as we began to descent into Vancouver. Anyone who has flown into Vancouver from the east knows how disappointing that is.

You see, the mountains just east of Vancouver are some of the most spectacular on the planet. Skimming over them on the approach into Vancouver can be a life-changing experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any of it this morning, and my life remains exactly as it was when we left Calgary.

Air Canada 737 max 8 descent into YVR in the early morning
Frick. It was too dark to see the mountains. #sadface
Air Canada 737 max 8 landing at YVR
Why does this look nothing like the picture you saw on my video screen? And do I win an award of some kind for my impossibly unflattering pics of Vancouver?
Arrival in Vancouver air Canada 737 max 8
Oh well. This ain’t my first rodeo, and I’ve been here enough times to know that Vancouver is one of the most beautiful places in the entire world. From certain angles, anyway.
Air Canada 737 max 8 business class seat backs
Speaking of beautiful things, are these not some of the best looking domestic business class seats you’ve ever seen?
Air Canada 737 max 8 business class neutral seat colors
Maybe I’m biased because they match my love for neutral colors. So what?
Air Canada 737 max 8 business class seat pitch
Not sure, but I think this guy would agree. On a more serious note, this pic gives you a pretty good idea of how generous the leg room is in these seats.
Air Canada 737-8 boarding door frame
Ain’t no time to waste when you know you’ve got to go stand in the US Preclearance line!
Walking up Vancouver airport jet bridge
And there you have it. Even at such an ungodly early hour, they pulled off yet another really great domestic business class experience. I raise my Molson Canadian to you, Air Canada. #cheers

Air Canada 737 MAX 8 business class pros and cons

Honestly, I didn’t find the seats on the MAX 8 to be all that comfortable, but there was a lot about this experience that makes me consider it to be one of the best domestic business class products in the world. Let’s break it down with a list of the pros and cons:

Pros

  • It’s an extremely stylish domestic business class product. No, that probably won’t matter to everyone, but for me, it goes along way towards making the experience feel more upscale.
  • The video screens are phenomenal. They are bright, extremely responsive, and there is a ridiculous amount of on-demand content available (TV shows, movies, and music).
  • To this American, being served a full meal on a 1 hour flight felt extravagant. But it was glorious – even at 7 o’clock in the morning.

Cons

  • These seats aren’t all that comfortable on longer flights (something I proved in my Air Canada A220-300 business class review). The lack of lumbar support is a real problem.
  • I didn’t like the fact that they kept the cabin lights on for the majority of the flight (and especially during takeoff and landing).

Comments (6)

  1. Peter

    October 28, 2022
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      October 28, 2022
  2. Daniel

    October 31, 2022
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      October 31, 2022
      • Daniel

        November 1, 2022
        • Scott (SANspotter)

          November 1, 2022

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