Just look at how awesome Air Canada A220-300 business class is!

Just look at how awesome Air Canada A220-300 business class is!

I flew Air Canada A220-300 business class from San Diego to Montreal last week. It was such a great experience that I wasn’t even miffed about the fact that they can’t figure out how to get a flight off on time out of San Diego.

There are only 12 business class seats on the AC A220-300, so the experience was intimate and personalized. That (combined with the stylish and comfortable domestic / regional Air Canada business class seat) makes this a product that other airlines can learn a thing or two from.

They’ve just got to work on their on time performance out of SAN. I know I just said that I wasn’t upset about it, but I will admit that I am teetering on the edge of not being able to let it go.

AC526
San Diego, CA (SAN) – Montreal, QC (YUL)
Aircraft: A220-300
Registration: C-GVUH
Duration: 4 hours 40 minutes
Seat: 2A (business class)

Air Canada A220-300 side view
Air Canada A220-300 side view illustration by NorebboStock.com.
AC526 flight track
Our route from San Diego to Montreal today as AC526.

My full review of Air Canada A220-300 business class from San Diego to Montreal

Those of you who read my Air Canada 737 MAX 8 business class review will notice a lot of similarities in this one. It’s the same great seat, with the same excellent onboard service. The only difference is that this flight was four times as long.

Arrival at the San Diego International Airport

This flight to Montreal was scheduled to depart at 9 AM, so I arrived at the airport at approximately 7:10. That was early enough to avoid feeling stressed and rushed getting through security, but late enough to not give myself too much time.

Air Canada is notorious for having delayed flights out of this airport. I mean, my Air Canada 737 MAX 8 economy experience out of SAN two months ago was delayed an hour and a half, so it wasn’t all that unreasonable to expect more of the same this time.

Terminal 2 West departures level SAN at sunrise
The time: 7:10am. The place: Departures level, Terminal 2 West. The mood: Still very SoCal, but it’s going to switch to “Canadian” really quick.
Air Canada sign San Diego airport
See? That didn’t take long at all.
SANspotter selfie walking into T2 west SAN
Part of the problem of living in a warm climate is that I have lost all concept of how cold it is in the rest of the world at any given moment. Canada in November? A light hoodie should be sufficient.
Terminal 2 west entrance San Diego airport
Please be patient with me as I walk all the way to the end of the ticketing hall to get a pic of the Air Canada Priority check in area for this review…
Air canada priority check in San Diego airport
Nailed it.
San Diego airport terminal 2 West construction
Hrmph. This isn’t helping my efforts to get into a Canadian state of mind.
Air Canada gate 48 San Diego airport
There we go! Seeing that red maple leaf here at gate 48 (with our plane parked on a remote stand in the background) helped to get my state of mind pointed north towards Canada again.
Air Canada A220-300 San Diego Airport
Fun fact: the beauty of the Air Canada A220-300 was enough to distract me from the fact that they should have towed it to the gate an hour ago (which meant inevitable delays). 

The boarding process for Air Canada flight number 526 to Montreal

The boarding process started exactly on time despite the plane being towed to the gate nearly an hour late. Yeah, I know. I too was hopeful that we would be departing on time, but a lot is going to happen between now and pushback. Stay with me here…

Air Canada A220-300 gate 48 San Diego Airport
“She’s a sexy little beast” is something that I said that about the CRJ-200 back in the day (and I regret it), but I really mean it this time. The A220-300 is a good lookin’ airplane!
Air Canada business class boarding pass SAN-YUL
My boarding pass, showing all the deets for today’s flight.
Air Canada jet bridge San Diego airport
And I thought *I* was excited about this. These people didn’t skip a beat once zone 1 was called!
Air Canada A220-300 boarding door
I feel kinda dumb for thinking “wow, we’re actually going to depart on time this morning!” as I approached the boarding door. I was so naive.

My first impressions of the Air Canada A220-300 business class seats

I love the new domestic / regional business class seats on Air Canada. They look right at home inside the Airbus A220 with their stylish gray materials and huge video screens.

Air Canada A220-300 business class cabin
Welcome to business class on the Air Canada A220-300. I mean: Bienvenue en classe affaires sur Air Canada A220-300!
Air Canada A220-300 business class seats
Seats 2A and 2B. I would’ve loved to have them both, but I had to settle for just the window seat today.

Leg room is pretty decent. It’s a really great domestic business class seat, and I was really looking forward to seeing how they perform on a five hour flight across North America.

Air Canada a220-300 business class leg room
I can’t think of anything else to say about the leg room other than “c’est fantastique!”
Air Canada a220-300 business class foot rests
While we are down here looking between my legs, the retractable foot rests are a nice touch, aren’t they?
Air Canada a220-300 business class video screens
The leg room is so good as a matter of fact, that I was slightly concerned that my little T-Rex arms wouldn’t be able to reach the video screen. I figured that I’d cross that bridge when I came to it…
Air Canada a220-300 business class power outlets
Not only were the electrical (and USB) outlets in the center console super convenient…
Air Canada a220-300 business class headrest
…the highly adjustable headrest should prevent any awkward encounters with my seatmate should I lose control of my head when sleeping. Thanks Air Canada!
Air Canada a220-300 business class bottled water
Each business class passenger got a bottle of what I assume is water harvested directly from the glaciers of the Canadian Arctic (delivered to the bottling plant on dogsled). Neat. 
Air Canada a220-300 business class passengers
It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if this guy was trying to change his seat online after he saw me take a picture of my water bottle just now. 
Air Canada a220-300 safety card
I don’t think taking pics of the safety card made him feel any better. 

The departure out of San Diego (was challenging)

Things were looking really good for an on time departure right up until the point that the last passengers stepped on board. That was when I saw both pilots come out of the cockpit complaining to the ground crew about something.

Air Canada A220-300 parked at gate San Diego airport
Nothing is happening. Why is nothing happening? I really wish something was happening!

Long story short, there was a catering snafu and they hadn’t loaded any dairy products onboard. The captain was especially miffed about it, and he wasn’t willing to fly the plane all the way to Montreal without milk in his coffee.

I’ll spare you the details of how it was resolved, but we ended up pushing off the gate 35 minutes late.

Air Canada A220-300 taxiing to runway San Diego airport
Despite how frustrating a delay can be, the feeling of relief when finally getting underway is nothing short of glorious. It almost makes the delay worth it.
Air Canada A220-300 takeoff from SAN
I never noticed until just now that the A220-300 wing and engine looks a lot like a mini 757 (except for the winglets). It’s not like I needed another reason to like this aircraft, but it definitely helps. 
Air Canada A220-300 engine and wing view from row 2
Turning south before we can begin turning north…
Air Canada A220-300 flying over San Diego
Not before cruising straight east along the US/Mexico border first, however. Pretty neat that flying to eastern Canada from Southern California involves flying over the Pacific Ocean and buzzing Mexico, right?

For those of you who prefer watching a video of the takeoff instead of looking at pics (with silly commentary), your wish is my command:

In-flight entertainment

Remember how in my Air Canada A320 business class review I couldn’t find anything nice to say about the video entertainment? I’m happy to report that it’s going to be the complete opposite in this review.

Essentially, the video entertainment system in business class on the A220-300 is phenomenal. It was the perfect companion for a long five hour flight.

Air Canada A220-300 video entertainment home screen
Okay, I’ve been staring at this Home Screen long enough…
Air Canada A220-300 video entertainment main menu
There we go. This is the main menu, offering what seems to be softcore porn, pictures of food that looks nothing like what we’ll actually be served, and a visual reminder that gravity is a b***h and it’ll be a miracle if we make it all the way to Montreal without crashing.
Air Canada A220-300 video entertainment movies and tv shows
In all seriousness, the video entertainment system was top-notch and full of really great movies, TV shows, podcasts, and music. You won’t be bored on a long flight – I can promise you that.
Air Canada A220-300 video entertainment screen shortcut buttons
The shortcut buttons for things like volume and brightness were much appreciated, but I straight-up want to high-five someone for the shortcut button to the in-flight map. That’s dope.

My only complaint is that they didn’t give us proper noise canceling headphones. They handed out cheap air buds to anybody who wanted them, but I just used a pair of my own from a previous flight.

Air Canada A220-300 business class ear buds
This wadded mess of cheap earbuds (that I pulled from the darkest depths of my backpack) were just as good as what the flight attendants were handing out today.
Watching The Office Air Canada A220-300 business class
They’ll have to do I suppose. It’s not like high-fidelity audio is required when your entertainment of choice is watching classic episodes of The Office, right?

The food

The quality of the food in Air Canada domestic / regional business class continues to impress me. They served breakfast on this flight to Montreal, and it was every bit as good as I was expecting.

Air Canada A220-300 business class eggs and sausage breakfast
FYI, it was either this or pancakes.
Air Canada domestic business class eggs potatoes and sausage breakfast
Yeah, it looks a little sloppy (and disturbingly phallic) but it was delicious. Close your eyes if you have to!
SANspotter selfie Air Canada a220-300 business class
I really should have listened to my own advice.
Air Canada a220-300 tray table
That was pretty good! Yes, it made me think of things I rather would have not thought of, but I’m happy to report that it was yet another fine Air Canada domestic / regional business class meal.

In summary, the meal they served wasn’t quite as refined as the snack you saw in my Air Canada A321 business class review. That felt like fine dining, whereas this particular meal was more mass produced / cafeteria style (but still quite tasty).

Seat comfort

Even though I have experienced these seats once before, that was only on a one hour flight. It’s five hours from San Diego to Montreal, so this was the ultimate test.

  • The good news is that the seats are wide and they offer a decent amount of recline. There’s also a good amount of legroom, which definitely adds to the experience.
  • The bad news is that they are rather firm, in my butt and lower back was starting to hurt by about hour number three. The seats are comfortable, but five hours is definitely pushing it.
Air Canada row 2 business class A220-300
Pam is impressed with the business class seats here on the A220-300. Angela, as usual, couldn’t care less.
Relaxing in an air Canada a220-300 business class seat
Legs crossed, ear buds in, and the in flight map showing an on time arrival. Nice.
Air Canada a220-300 wing and engine view from row 2
By the way, as someone who was raised in Michigan, seeing solid cloud cover like this in late November isn’t shocking to me at all. Everyone down there on the ground won’t see the sun again until April(ish) unfortunately. 
Air Canada a220-300 business class snack
Somewhere there exists a study which proves that a little bag of roasted almonds adds pleasure to already pleasurable business class experience. I’m sure of it.
SANspotter eating snack Air Canada business class
Did I just tell you that almonds are my favorite snack without telling you that almonds are my favorite snack?
Sunset view on Air Canada A220-300
My lower back is starting to hurt. Hold together little buddy…we’re almost there!

The descent and arrival into Montreal

It was completely dark by the time we started the descent into Montreal. This is a city that I’ve flown into and out of before, but yet again, it was dark and I couldn’t really see anything. They tell me that Montreal is a beautiful city, so I’ll have to take their word for it.

Air Canada A220-300 business class lavatory
Now THIS is a business class lavatory! Yup, the maple leaf wallpaper completely negates the delay getting out of SAN earlier today.
Air Canada A220-300 landing at YUL
Oh, you wanted to see landing pics? This was the best I could do unfortunately.
Air Canada gates Montreal airport
“That’s our gate!” “That’s our gate!” “That’s our gate!” (What I was thinking to myself as we rolled past what seemed like a million empty gates here at YUL).
Gate 80 Montreal International Airport
We ended up at gate 80 (which is all the way at the far end of the International Terminal – next to the blast fence). Oh well.
Row 1 Air Canada a220-300 business class
I’m not even upset about it. This was such a good flight!
Backpack under seat Air Canada a220-300 business class
At the very least, I hope the captain enjoyed having milk in his coffee.
Montreal airport jet bridge
And now, my full attention is on the next flight (Air Canada 777-300/ER business class to Paris)!
SANspotter selfie Montreal airport jet bridge
For a brief moment anyway. I’m easily distracted by twinkling lights…

Pros and cons of Air Canada A220-300 business class

I hope I was able to convey how nice of a business class experience this was. Despite yet another delay out of San Diego, the cabin crew and overall seat comfort made up for it. These aren’t perfect seats, but the service from the cabin crew makes it worth going out of your way for. Here’s a more detailed list of all the pros and cons:

Pros

  • In addition to being wide with copious amounts of legroom, the seats offer other comfort-enhancing amenities such as foot rests and retractable leg rests.
  • Not only are the video screens large and bright, I liked the shortcut buttons to the most common used features.
  • There are only 12 business class seats on the A220-300 (3 rows in a 2–2 configuration). This means not having to wait as long to be served, as well as more personalized service from the cabin crew.

Cons

  • The retractable leg rests and foot rests are nice, but only those of you 5′-8″ and less will get much use from them. They aren’t all that usable if you’re any taller than that.
  • The seats are hard. Yeah, they look great, but your bones are going to ache after a long five hour flight in one of these bad boys.
  • While the video quality is excellent, I just wish Air Canada would provide proper noise canceling headphones in business class. That would easily take this experience to the next level.

Comments (4)

  1. Peter

    November 27, 2022
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      November 27, 2022
      • Peter

        December 7, 2022
        • Scott (SANspotter)

          December 7, 2022

Give a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.