An American-centric review of Air Canada 777-300 business class

An American-centric review of Air Canada 777-300 business class

I was so happy to finally be able to give Air Canada 777-300 business class a try. Everyone kept telling me how good it was, and you know what? It turns out they were right.

The seats are fantastic, the food was a step above what I was expecting, and service from the cabin crew just blew me away. It wasn’t the US-style (watered down) international business class service that I was expecting.

The only problem was the route I got to try it on. Did you know that it only takes 5 and half hours to fly from Montreal to Paris? That’s the automotive equivalent of renting a really fast car on the tiny island of Oahu and not being able to go over 45 miles an hour because of all the traffic.

Which is something else I’m guilty of doing…

AC870
Montreal, QC (YUL) – Paris, France (CDG)
Aircraft: 777-333/ER
Registration: C-FNNW
Duration: 5 hours 35 minutes
Seat: 5A (business class)

Air Canada 777-300/ER side view C-FNNW
Air Canada 777-300/ER side view illustration by NorebboStock.com. Yeah, I got to fly on one of the last 77Ws in the old Toothpaste livery (which I didn’t even know existed anymore). Pretty cool!
ac870 flight track
Our route from Montreal to Paris tonight as AC870.

My full review of Air Canada 777-300 business class from Montreal to Paris

Right off the bat, let’s answer the most important question first. Is Air Canada international business class better than WestJet international business class? Honestly, even though the seats are nearly the same, I’d give the nod to Air Canada for a better overall experience (food, in-flight entertainment, and a stellar cabin crew). Sorry WestJet.

For a more detailed summary of my thoughts, be sure to read my WestJet vs Air Canada comparison.

What lounge can Air Canada international business class passengers use at the Montreal Airport?

There’s an Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge located near gate 52 in the international terminal. That was my first stop immediately after arriving on my Air Canada A220-300 business class flight from San Diego, and yes – it was definitely worth making the beeline for. The food was quite excellent!

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal Airport
Did you read my review of the Montreal Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge? If not here’s the TLDR: It was insanely crowded, it felt swanky AF, and the Thai Curry was delicious.

A closer look inside the International Terminal at the Montreal Airport

I couldn’t deal with the crowds in the lounge, so I ventured back out into the main terminal after scarfing down a hot plate of food. FYI, it’s a fantastic terminal for stretching your legs and people watching – as well as getting a hearty bite to eat if you don’t have the privilege of having access to the lounge.

YUL international terminal
Yes, I voluntarily chose to be out here instead of hanging out in the noisy/crowded lounge. Welcome to the YUL International Terminal!
Montreal airport international terminal seating
< whispering > See? It was worth it! < /whispering >
Montreal airport international terminal inside
Actually, the seats are kinda hard out here so I had to keep getting up and going for a walk every 5 minutes to restore blood flow (and feeling) to my lower extremities.
Gate 51 Montreal International Airport
During one of my walks, I went to check and see what was happening a the gate. I think this guy was pleading for a seat as far away as possible from that SANspotter weirdo.

The boarding process for flight number 870 to Paris / Charles de Gaulle

It’s been a while since I’ve stood in line to board a long haul international flight. A queue had started to form about 20 minutes before they started the boarding process, and with nothing else to do, I figured I might as well stand in line too.

Air Canada zone 1 boarding gate 51 Montreal airport
My apologies to anyone who thought that I was going to show you a ridiculously opulent business class boarding process (complete with being driven to the plane in a Lambo).
Air Canada international business class mobile boarding pass
I even double checked my boarding pass to see if there was any mention of the Lambo. There wasn’t, so…here I am.

By the way, the gate that they used for this particular flight (51) was very small. It was much too small for a fully loaded Boeing 777-300/ER IMHO.

Air Canada 777-300er C-FNNW parked at gate 51 YUL
There we go. It was nice to finally get a glimpse of our plane during the boarding process (it couldn’t be seen from the terminal). What a unit!
YUL airport jet bridge
Only the hardest of the hardcore AvGeeks will have noticed that not only is the nose number of the plane “747,” but it’s still wearing the old Toothpaste livery (which is the best Air Canada livery, btw).
Air Canada 777-300er boarding door
The rest of you are no doubt wishing I’d just get to the food pics already. Hold your horses!

My first impressions of the Air Canada 777-300 business class seat

Those of you who don’t fly business class often may not realize it, but many airlines share the same seat for their business class products. The particular business class seat that Air Canada chose for their 777-300/ER is one that you’ve seen many times before here on SANspotter.com – most recently in my WestJet 787-9 business class review.

Thankfully is is a good seat, and I knew right away that I was going to be spoiled rotten all the way to Paris tonight.

Air Canada 777-300/ER business class cabin
Welcome to the massive Air Canada 777-300/ER business class cabin. RIP to anyone seated in the last row I guess – it’s gonna be a while before you eat (and drink).
Air Canada 777-300/ER business class seat 5A
Seat 5A is mine tonight. Yup, I think I made a good choice (something that doesn’t happen often).
Air Canada 777-300/ER business class window seat
Because it would be rude of me not to capture it from all angles, wouldn’t it?
Air Canada 777-300/ER business class A seats
I’ll spare you the 30 other pics I took of this seat before sitting down, but all you need to know is that the window seats are pretty much perfect for solo travelers (or couples who hate each other’s guts). 
Air Canada 777-300/ER business class bedding
It’s only going to be a 5 and a half hour flight to Paris tonight, but I already know that I’m going to enjoy the **** out of this full size blanket, pillow, and mattress.
Air Canada 777-300/ER business class footwell and leg room
Don’t worry. Unless you’re Ronald McDonald (or you simply enjoy wearing big clown shoes everywhere you go), the footwell is going to be just fine.
Air Canada 777-300 Business Class seat storage compartment
Speaking of clown shoes, this massive storage bin looks like it’d be an excellent place to put them. This thing is huge!
Air Canada 777-300 Business Class seat controls
The seat control interface is located directly underneath the storage compartment. Remember when in-seat video screens used to be this size? I do, and that makes me feel old.
Air Canada international business class amenities
The booty (Air Canada style).
Aqqua Di Parma amenity kit Air Canada business class
The amenity kit for tonight’s flight was created in partnership with Aqqua Di Parma. I think that’s good?
amenity kit contents Air Canada international business class
I had to Google them just now, and it turns out this is some high quality ****. This uncultured midwestern farm boy just learned something new!
SANspotter selfie Air Canada 777-300 business class
Speaking of uncultured midwestern farm boys, he chose orange juice instead of champagne for the pre-departure drink. 
Air Canada international business class menu cover
Menus were distributed while still on the ground, which was a good thing considering how short this flight was going to be. The pressure is on to make the right choice!
SANspotter reading menu Air Canada 777-300 business class
I mean, I know for a fact that I’m going with the chicken, but dang…everything else looks so good! And don’t worry – I’ll show you the full contents of the menu later in the review…
Air Canada 777-300 business class cabin view from row 5
That feeling of worry when you look at all the people ahead of you here in business class who might choose the chicken before you. I really hope there is some left by the time they reach my row…
Air Canada 777-300 business class seat privacy
Nose pickers rejoice! Even though I can clearly see the settings that the guy across the aisle from me has set for his seat, the privacy here in business class is still pretty good.
Air Canada 777-300 business class airbag seatbelt
I can’t say that I’m a fan of the airbag-equipped seatbelt though. I’m not sure, but crashing into a Tim Horton’s at 300mph would be traumatic enough without an airbag exploding in your face right before you burn to death from the ensuing firestorm.

The departure out of Montreal

It was well past 9 PM by the time we finally pushed off the gate, and there was nothing but near complete darkness once we rolled away from the terminal.

Montreal Airport jet bridge
That guy driving the jet bridge has a look on his face like he’s just as surprised as I am that there are still Air Canada 777-300s flying around in the old Toothpaste livery.

There wasn’t much to see out the windows this evening unfortunately, but when you’re sitting in a seat as nice as this one is, it doesn’t matter. Plus, the glorious sound from those massive GE engines make up nicely for the lack of visuals.

Air Canada 777-300 taxiing to departure YUL
The safety video alternating between French and English was the perfect thing to distract me from the fact that there wasn’t much to see as we taxied out for departure. Attachez votre ceinture de sécurité! Fasten your seatbelt!
Air Canada 777-300 departing Montreal Airport
So long Montreal…

In-flight entertainment

I think if there’s one thing about this Air Canada 777-300 business class experience that disappointed me, it would be the entertainment system.

Yes, it was stocked full of the kinds of TV shows and movies I wanted to see, but the user interface (and the screen itself) was getting on in age. To put that in better context, the video screens in Air Canada 737 MAX 8 economy are far superior.

Air Canada 777-300 business class entertainment system home screen
If anything, the dated entertainment system user interface will prevent me from being overly positive in this review (to the point where you’d have suspicions about me having been bribed with Tim Horton’s gift cards to say nice things).
Air Canada 777-300 business class entertainment system menu
Honestly, not only did the UI look old, the screen wasn’t very responsive. I know I sound petty, but every second counts on a 5 and a half hour flight!
Air Canada 777-300 business class interactive menu
The interactive menu is neat, but something a little more descriptive than “Red Wine” is going to be needed to get me to choose this over my usual water and orange juice I think.
Air Canada 777-300 business class noise canceling headphones
At least the noise canceling headphones impressed me. These look (and feel) legit.
SANspotter selfie Air Canada 777-300 business class trying on headphones
No need to worry – the confused look on my face is my reaction to everything turning pink all of a sudden (and not an assessment of the excellent sound quality of the headphones).
Air Canada 777-300 business class entertainment system remote control
Holy mood lighting Batman! This was supposed to be a demonstration of the entertainment system remote control, but this is totally giving me flashbacks to that trippy mood lighting you saw in my Air China 777-300 business class review.
Air Canada 777-300 business class mood lighting
2 minutes later, and I’m awash in skin-staining mood lighting so pink that it resembles what you saw in my Virgin Atlantic A350-1000 economy review. This is wild!

The dinner service

I’ve been flying Air Canada a lot recently, and in every review, you’ve heard me say really nice things about the food. It’s one of the things that Air Canada is consistently good at, so my expectations were high as the cabin crew began the dinner service.

Air Canada Montreal to Paris business class menu
As promised, here’s a closer look at the menu for tonight’s flight (it’s a high-res image, so just click – or tap – on it to see all the details). The chicken looks good, doesn’t it?
Air Canada Montreal to Paris business class wine list
The wine list. It was fun to feel fancy for a brief moment as I pretended to mull over the choices, but you can clearly see my drink(s) of choice in the background.
Air Canada business class hot towel
What is this, 2019? It’s nice to see hot towels on airplanes again!
Air Canada international business class snack
Kicking of the meal service tonight was a ramekin of warm nuts and a drink.
SANspotter eating snack Air Canada 777-300 business class
And for those of you who are curious, the mood lighting has morphed into a gentle light purple glow. It’s like the northern lights all up in here!
Air Canada international business class dinner appetizer
The appetizer: Marinated octopus, Romesco sauce, roasted red pepper and almond (served with a fresh seasonal green salad and warm bread). Translated into SANspotter-speak: freakin’ hell yeah!
Air Canada international business class octopus appetizer
How good does this look??
SANspotter eating appetizer Air Canada 777-300 business class
Fingers crossed this pairs nicely with the Thai curry I ate in the lounge a few hours ago. If not…it’s going to be a wild ride to Paris tonight.
Air Canada international business class roasted chicken breast
The main course: Chicken breast, salsa verde, roasted potato, carrot, cauliflower, zucchini, and oyster mushrooms. It was basically everything I hoped it would be.
SANspotter eating chicken Air Canada international business class
“My blog sure would be a lot more interesting if I ate something other than chicken all the time…”
Air Canada international business class dessert cart
The mood lighting switched to “psychedelic blue” for the presentation of the dessert cart. What were they trying to hide?
Air Canada international business class dessert cake
The amount of processing I had to do to make this chocolate hazelnut cake look brown should earn me an award of some kind. Yeah, the mood lighting was cool and all, but it was interfering with my efforts to review the food. (This cake was delicious, btw).

In summary, not only was the food excellent, but the kindness and professionalism of the cabin crew was remarkable. No, it wasn’t as great as what I experienced in Asiana A380 business class or anything, but it’s still a lot better than what you would get in, say, United Polaris business class.

Air Canada 777-300 business class cabin blue mood lighting
And that concludes the dinner service. It’s kinda hard to tell if the mood lighting is still on, or if everything is permanently stained blue from the intensity of it. No matter though – because it sure looks cool.

Testing the lie-flat seat

There was a little over 3 hours of flying time remaining after the dinner service, so lying down to get some sleep was pretty much pointless. It takes me a while to fall asleep on airplanes, and by the time I did, it wouldn’t be long until they turned the lights on again for the pre-landing meal.

That said, I aim to do a thorough international business class review, so an honest attempt to test the lie-flat seat was a must.

SANspotter sleeping Air Canada 777-300 business class lie flat seat
Fun fact: pretend sleep isn’t anywhere near as satisfying as actual sleep. At least the seat was comfortable as I posed for this pic.
Air Canada 777-300 business class cabin lights off
Assuming that I had been able to sleep, this lie flat seat would have been a very comfortable place to do it. The guy behind me snoring like a buzzsaw was totally ticking me off though (because I was jealous of ability to sleep so deeply).
Air Canada 777-300 business class lavatory
I guess if I can’t sleep, I can surely check out the lavatory. It’s party size!

The second meal service

The cabin crew turned on the lights for the second meal service not long after I finally drifted off to sleep (as expected). Yes, I could’ve slept through the second meal (especially since I wasn’t all that hungry), but I am an airline reviewer after all, so I raised my seat and took one for the team.

Air Canada international business class breakfast
I’ve flown all over the world (multiple times over), and it’s still an incredibly awkward feeling to be presented with a full tray of food mere minutes after waking up from a deep sleep.
Air Canada international business class breakfast fruit
It was an odd (yet delicious) breakfast to say the least. This bowl of fruit seemed appropriate, but…
Air Canada international business class breakfast cheese
…I can’t say that I’ve ever craved entire blocks of cheese for breakfast. You know my feelings about cheese though, so down the hatch they went.
Air Canada international business class breakfast emmental
And what the hell is “French Emmental?” It looks canned like tuna fish, but has a bitter / sweet grain taste to it that I’m not sure that I entirely enjoyed.
SANspotter eating breakfast Air Canada 777-300 business class
Another moment where the uncultured farm boy learned something new. This has proven to be a very educational experience so far!

The descent and arrival into the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

Overnight flights from North America to Europe are weird. Even though I only got less than an hour of sleep on this flight, arriving in Paris in the mid morning hours felt like a completely new day.

Never mind the fact that it was 9 PM in Montreal less than 5 hours ago – it felt like an eternity. That said, it was really nice to see the sun coming up over France again. For those of you keeping score, the last time I flew into Paris from North America was via Air Tahiti Nui A340 economy class. I don’t think I have to tell you which experience was better.

Air Canada 777-300 engine and wing
The start of the descent into CDG. I still feel 100% normal, so it seems as if the Thai curry gamble from last night paid off!
Flying over France on approach to CDG
My first look at France in over three years. I was expecting this moment to be filled with excitement and nostalgia, but the truth is that I was still trying to figure out what that “emmental” stuff was.
Flying over Paris countryside on approach to CDG
“What a beautiful morning. I wonder if it’s some kind of oat and grain mixture?”
Air Canada 777-300 landing at CDG airport
I really had no idea, so…welcome to Paris!
Air Canada 777-300 window view taxiing at CDG airport
Bad news: this flight was way too short to fully enjoy. Good news: it actually felt significantly longer than it was due to the time zone differences (which essentially made this the Jet Lag Express). 
Remote stand CDG airport
“GTFO with that Toothpaste livery ****!”
CDG airport remote stand
Sorry bro. We’re gonna take this spot right here at the remote stand.
Retrieving carryon bag after long flight Air Canada 777-300 business class
I’m very likely the only person on this plane excited about being parked on a remote stand this morning. Fingers crossed that this means a close up look at this 777 from the outside!
Boeing 777-300er boarding door frame
Oh boy oh boy oh boy…
CDG airport remote stand air stairs
Knocking myself unconscious by tripping and falling down these stairs would be extremely unfortunate considering what I’m about to see…
Air Canada 777-300er C-FNNW nose
Boom! Thanks for the ride across the Atlantic last night C-FNNW…it was was a pleasure indeed.

Pros and cons of Air Canada 777-300 business class

This was an amazing experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel all that amazing since I already knew that I was going to be great before I even stepped foot on the plane. There are worse experiences to have I guess. Anyway, here are what I consider to be the pros and cons of this really great business class product:

Pros

  • The seat is excellent for long-haul international flights. Not only is it highly-adjustable, it’s a really comfortable bed in the lie-flat position.
  • Seat privacy is excellent. I like shutting myself out from the world on long international flights, and the high walls and partitions of these seats allow you to do that.
  • The food was excellent. Much better than what you would expect on a US airline.
  • The cabin crew was top-notch as well. They addressed passengers by name, and everything they did (from presenting the meal choices to serving the food) felt like they had practiced it a thousand times.

Cons

  • Even though the seat is really nice, it’s nearly the same business class seat you’ll find on a lot of other airlines. It’s not unique to Air Canada.
  • The in-flight entertainment system (which includes both the video screens and the user interface) is becoming outdated.
  • The business class cabin on the 777-300 is quite large. This means you might have to wait a while to be served food and drink you’re in one of the last rows. Choose your seat wisely!

Comments (3)

  1. Peter

    December 17, 2022
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      December 17, 2022
      • Peter

        December 21, 2022

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