Air Canada A321 business class review: amazing food in vintage seats

Air Canada A321 business class review: amazing food in vintage seats

Prior to getting the content I needed for this Air Canada A321 business class review, I wasn’t expecting it to be a very interesting experience. However, after the flight, I couldn’t wait to tell everyone about it.

Domestic Air Canada business class is really good. Not only was I served a substantial snack on a short 1 hour and 9 minute flight from Edmonton to Vancouver, it was provided by one of the hardest-working (and happiest) flight attendants I’ve ever seen.

Sure, the fabric on the seats remind me of my grandfather’s sofa. But as an American who isn’t used to being wined and dined in domestic first/business class, it kind of made me crush on Canadian airlines more than I already did.

AC245
Edmonton, AB (YEG) – Vancouver, BC (YVR)
Friday, April 22, 2022
Aircraft: A321
Registration: C-GJWI
Duration: 1 hour 9 minutes
Seat: 4F (Business Class)

Air Canada A321 side view
Air Canada A321 side view illustration by NorebboStock.com
AC245 flight track
Our route from Edmonton to Vancouver this afternoon as AC245.

My full review of Air Canada A321 business class from Edmonton to Vancouver

The fact that you’ve chose to read this airline review over all of the other airline reviews I’ve posted here on SANspotter.com makes me happy. Why? Well, Air Canada domestic business class was a lot better than what I was expecting. Everyone who skipped over this one (assuming it’d be as dull as an insurance policy) is totally missing out.

Arrival at the Edmonton Airport

Although this flight to Vancouver was scheduled to depart at 4:55 PM, I arrived at YEG at approximately 1:30 PM. That’s early even by my standards, but I figured it would give me enough time to get some work done before the flight.

SANspotter walking into the Edmonton airport
Two years into the pandemic so far and I still haven’t figured out how to keep my glasses from fogging up while wearing a mask. A frustrating (and awkward) way to begin this review, for sure.
YEG airport departures level
YEG looks to be a nice little airport! Other than that black Jeep barreling down on me at a not so insignificant clip, I’m liking what I see.
Edmonton airport main entrance
Leave it to me to enter through the Swoop door for an Air Canada review.
Edmonton airport ticketing hall
I’ll admit it. I really thought the Edmonton Airport was going to be a wee bit more “rinky dink” than this. This is nice!
Air Canada check in Edmonton airport
This is the Air Canada check in area, with an assortment of the creepiest looking kiosks I’ve ever seen.
Edmonton airport main terminal
As if I wasn’t impressed with YEG already, the main terminal (past the security checkpoint) kicked things up a notch. Why is nobody talking about how nice of an airport this is?

One thing that helped to kill some time was to hang out the Edmonton Air Canada Lounge. It was decent, but not all that luxurious (nor spacious). I probably spent an hour in there before realizing that it would be more entertaining to hang out in the main terminal instead.

Edmonton airport main terminal Interior design
Is it considered kinky to have a crush on an airport? Asking for a friend.
SANspotter selfie Edmonton airport
And then, just when I was at peak crush, I found out my flight to Vancouver was going to be delayed. Turns out that nothing will douse the flames of a hot love affair faster than a delayed flight will. 

The boarding process for Air Canada flight number 245 Vancouver

Figures. It seems the earlier I arrive at the airport before a flight, there’s a higher probability if it being delayed. Today was no exception. On one hand, I was happy that Air Canada was working hard keeping me updated on the delay. Both my email and text messages were being hit with updates every 30 minutes, so that was nice.

What was not so nice was the fact that I was going to have a very tight connection at YVR. Is a 1 hour layover in Vancouver going to be enough time? There was only one way to find out…

Air Canada A321 C-GJWI Edmonton airport
This tardy girl (C-GJWI) is going to have fly like greased lightning to get me to Vancouver in time to make my connecting flight!
Air Canada mobile business class boarding pass
The obligatory pre-flight boarding pass pic. However, I can assure you that the knot in my stomach was the only thing on my mid at this very moment.
Gate 54 Edmonton airport
Let’s go let’s go let’s go let’s go…
Edmonton airport jet bridge
There are fewer things sweeter in life than walking down the jet bridge of a significantly delayed flight. I’ve waited an entire day for this moment!
Air Canada A321 boarding door
Whether or not Air Canada domestic business class is worth waiting an entire day for remains to be seen. Which just so happens to be a really awesome segue straight into the next section…

My first impressions of Air Canada A321 business class seats

The thing about the business class seats on these Air Canada A321s is that they remind me a lot of Air Canada A330-300 economy class.

Basically, the seats are blue, and they are very old. “Vintage” is probably a more delicate way of saying it, but I would suspect that these seats will be replaced with something newer very soon.

Air Canada A321 business class passengers
There were lots of other folks in their seats waiting to get this show on the road once I stepped onboard. Green jacket guy looks like he was ready 3 hours ago (just like me).
Air Canada A321 business class seats
No, designer purses are not included with Air Canada domestic business class. It turns out my seatmate on todays flight is stylish AF, that’s all.
Air Canada a321 business class leg room
Leg room is decent, and I like the foot rest, but that purse is making me feel like a bit of a hobo. I seriously need to up my bag game.
Air Canada a321 business class video screens
I like that there are video screens at every seat. And I’m not sure, but it looks like the person in front of me may be a fellow airline reviewer doing a much better job of demonstrating the seat features than I am.
Air Canada domestic business class amenities
Amenities on todays flight included a complimentary mask, ear buds, and a bottle of water. So far so good.
Air Canada a321 business class seat pitch
After dealing with the tight leg room you saw in my Swoop Airlines review, this almost feels like the Grand Canyon all up in here!
SANspotter air Canada a321 business class
For what it’s worth, this was nice enough to get me to briefly forget about the fact that I was probably going to miss my connecting flight in Vancouver. Well done, Air Canada. 

The departure out of Edmonton

Faced with a very tight connection in Vancouver, I couldn’t help but feel a little stressed waiting for the plane to push back from the gate. 5:45pm on a Friday afternoon seems to be a busy time at the Edmonton Airport, and we had to wait a bit for other aircraft to get out of our way.

I tried my best not to think about the fact that missing my connecting flight back to the US would screw everything up (including the validity of a Covid test that I had just taken).

WestJet aircraft at YEG airport
You know how they say that a watched pot never boils? Same thing goes for aircraft pushbacks. C’Mon already – I’ve got a connection to make!
Air Canada A321 business class cabin
Watching the cockpit door had the same effect. *crickets*
YEG aircraft control tower
Finally! Movement! And I do have to say that this may be one of the coolest looking aircraft control towers I’ve ever seen.
Air Canada a321 engine and wing
I’m not trying to be a backseat driver or anything, but I can get out and push if it’ll help us get to Vancouver any faster…
Departing YEG in an air Canada a321
The nice thing about the Edmonton Airport is that there’s usually no waiting to take off. Our speedy departure had me feeling a little better about my upcoming wicked-tight connection…
Air Canada a321 view from seat 5F
‘Later Edmonton! It’s been real.

What is in-flight entertainment like in business class on the Air Canada A321?

The in-flight entertainment portion of this review is probably the most disappointing. As I noted earlier, the business class seats on these Air Canada A321s are getting a bit on in years. The video screens embedded into the headrests are just as old as the seats are, and if I’m being honest, they aren’t very good.

Air Canada video entertainment system Home Screen
The Air Canada video entertainment system home screen, complete with a reminder of how boring English sounds compared to French.

Although I found the selection of movies and TV shows to be decent, both the screen and the user interface were well past their prime. It was basically an experience straight out of 2005.

Air Canada video screens a321
The 3 second delay before anything happened after pressing a menu item was a nice touch. Bad pun totally intended.

On a positive note, the flight attendant was happy to hand out complementary earbuds to anybody that dared to use the video entertainment system.

What kind of food does Air Canada serve on short flights in domestic business class?

Being served any food at all would have surprised me on a short flight from Edmonton to Vancouver. Imagine my excitement when the flight attendant presented me with a tray of a of lox and crackers (among a few other goodies). I sure as heck didn’t get anything as close to this fancy in my recent United A319 first class experience!

Air Canada domestic business class snack
Wow! Air Canada domestic business class snacks are no joke. This was far above and beyond what I was expecting for just a short hour and a half flight.
Air Canada domestic business class light meal
If this isn’t a giant middle finger to all the US airlines (and the wimpy snacks they serve in domestic first class), I don’t know what is.
SANspotter air Canada domestic business class food
It’s hard to look like a suave and sophisticated airline reviewer when you’re shoveling an unexpectedly hearty (and delicious) snack into your face. Maybe next time.
Air Canada domestic business class almonds
There were Rôties Salées for dessert. With fibres!
Air Canada rouge napkin
How dare this logo appear right when I’m really starting to enjoy myself. If you’re new to my blog, Air Canada Rouge economy class from Toronto to San Diego was one of my top 5 most uncomfortable flights ever. I swear that experience shaved 2 years off my life (at least).

Despite the rogue Rouge napkin, this was easily the best snack / light meal that I have ever been served on any flight in North America. Ever. And if that wasn’t enough, the food I was served on my very next flight (Air Canada Express CRJ-900 business class) was equally impressive. Air Canada – you’ve seriously impressed me.

How comfortable are the Air Canada A321 business class seats?

Even though I didn’t have much to say about how these seats looked, there was one thing about them that helped to make them more comfortable than a lot of other domestic premium seats that I’ve tried: They were fabric.

Fabric seats are far more comfortable than vinyl seats (in my opinion). They are warmer, I like the fact that I don’t slide around as much, and they help to absorb ambient noise in the cabin. I really wish more airlines did this.

Air Canada fabric domestic business class seats
If I were King, I’d make it a requirement that all airline seats be fabric. I’d probably be beheaded within a week for doing so, but it would be a comfortable week of flying nonetheless.

In summary, I found these seats be sufficient on this short 1 hour and 9 minute flight to Vancouver. I’d hate to do a transcontinental flight in one of these things though. That would be brutal.

Air Canada a321 business class seat comfort
Leg room still feels decent, and I’m loving the fabric, but structurally these aren’t very good seats for long flights. There’s no lumbar support!
SANspotter air Canada a321 business class review
This is what I look like when I’m thinking about all the ways I’m going to describe how much my lower back hurts in the review.

The arrival into Vancouver

Approaching Vancouver from the west is easily one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. The western range of the Canadian Rockies is nothing short of spectacular, and even in late spring, it was as snowy and picturesque as always.

If you’ve never flown into Vancouver before, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Put it on your bucket list and thank me later.

Flying over Canadian Rocky Mountains towards Vancouver
Views on views. The scenery when approaching Vancouver from the east is always stunning!
In flight map approaching Vancouver
This is what people in the aisle seats see at the exact same moment. If they only knew…
On approach to the Vancouver airport
Once past the mountains, it begins to look a lot like Los Angeles.
Approach and landing into YVR from air Canada a321
My sincerest apologies to the residents of Vancouver for that Los Angeles comment. I’m sorry.

I’d recommend watching the full video of the landing (embedded below) to get a sense of how beautiful the city of Vancouver really is. Strap on a good pair of headphones and crank it up:

Air Canada a321 landing at YVR
Welcome to YVR! I’m not going to announce the local time, since looking at my watch will only stress me out about how little time I have to make my connection down to San Diego.
China airlines a350 at YVR
Always lots of interesting things to see here on the ground at YVR. Those China Airlines A350s look niiiiice.
Air Canada a321 business class cabin after flight
Ok, I’m normally a really patient guy, but I’m ready to walk over anyone who gets in my way while getting off this airplane. I’ve got a tight connection to make!
Walking off air Canada a321 after flight
I wonder what the world record time is for going from a domestic flight to a US bound flight here in Vancouver?
Vancouver airport jet bridge
Whatever it is, I’m about to smash the **** out of it. Not if I have a heart attack first lol…

Pros and cons of business class on the Air Canada A321

I think one of the main things that made this flight so great for me was the fact that my expectations were so low going into it. Domestic Air Canada business class (especially on the A321) didn’t seem all that appealing to me beforehand, but I walked off that airplane feeling pleasantly surprised . Here are what I consider to be all the pros and cons about my experience:

Pros

  • I may be in the minority on this, but I actually really like the old-style fabric business class seats on the A321. As noted above, they are warm, cushy, and dare I say it…cozy.
  • The food Air Canada serves on short flights is nothing short of phenomenal. It was easily on the same level of quality as I experienced in JetBlue Mint short while back.
  • For such a vintage seat, the fact that video entertainment even exists at all is worth noting.

Cons

  • Despite praise I just bestowed on Air Canada for the existence of video screens at every seat, they are pretty terrible actually. Not only is the screen difficult to see in bright sunlight, the user interface is extremely dated and slow.
  • The business class seats on the Air Canada A321 are nowhere near as nice as the newer-style seats (such as those found on the 737 MAX 8). The A321 will eventually get those seats, but for now, prepare yourself for a “retro” experience.

Comments (2)

  1. SDRSpotter

    May 16, 2022
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      May 16, 2022

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