01. Delta Air Lines 717-200 economy class San Diego to Los Angeles
02. Air Canada 787-9 economy class Los Angeles to Toronto
03. Air Transat A330-300 economy class Toronto to Montreal
04. Air Canada A330-300 economy class Montreal to Vancouver
05. Alaska Airlines 737-800 first class Vancouver to Seattle
06. Alaska Airlines A319 first class Seattle to San Diego
Those of you who know my struggles with trying to enter Canada with any amount of dignity and grace will really be able to appreciate how difficult of a decision it was for me to book this flight. On one hand, I really (like, really) wanted to give Air Canada 787-9 economy a try because I’ve heard so many good things about it.
On the other hand, the thought of having to try and explain the definition of “AvGeek” to a stone-faced Canadian customs agent was not something I was looking forward to. It’s especially more difficult now that I’m self employed because (based on what I’ve seen and heard) Canada isn’t so keen on “unemployed” people entering their country.
Despite my anxiety, I decided to throw caution into the wind and go for it. I mean, hey – they couldn’t stop me from boarding the plane at LAX, and even if they did end up giving me a full body cavity search upon arrival in Toronto, at least I’d end up with some really juicy blog content. It was a total win-win!
Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – Toronto, CA (YYZ)
Thursday, November 29, 2018
Duration: 4 hours 10 minutes
Seat: 37A (economy class)
The video for this flight was a really fun one to put together. It’s best viewed full screen with the volume turned way up! Special shoutout goes to Epidemic Sound for providing the music for the soundtrack by the way:
I’m not exactly sure what the exact data is on the number of people who fly between Los Angeles and Toronto on a daily basis, but based on the results I see for flight searches between these two city pairs, it’s a lot.
Air Canada has three daily nonstop flights (one A320, one 737-8 MAX, and this 787-9), while United, Delta, and American offer an endless list of connecting options.
The neat thing about Air Canada is that they typically have at least one daily widebody between these two city pairs, and over the last 10-15 years or so I’ve seen the 767-300, 777-200, and the 787 (both the -8 and -9).
My AvGeek brain fails to comprehend why anyone would choose anything but an Air Canada nonstop widebody on this route. “But I’m trying to reach Executive Platinum on American!” is not a good excuse. At all.
However, despite being the very best way to travel between Los Angeles and Toronto, flying on an Air Canada 787-9 isn’t totally as amazing as I’m making it out to be. Yeah, it’s good – and I’d do it again without thinking twice. But just like anything in life, there is always some bad that comes with the good.
Here are the pros and cons of flying on an Air Canada 787-9 between LAX and YYZ:
Oh, and just so you know, I’ve got to start with a con first because that’s how this adventure to Toronto began. There’s good stuff coming, so don’t bail on me yet thinking that I’m all doom and gloom!
Con: Terminal 6 at LAX is a zoo and incredibly frustrating during peak hours
For those that don’t know, there was recently a massive airline and terminal swap that happened at LAX. Long story short, Delta was feeling spendy and wanted to build themselves a world class terminal at what has become one of their premier non-hub stations in the US.
Apparently they waved enough bribe money in the faces of Air Canada (amongst a few other airlines) to get them to move out of terminal 3 so that they could take over and rebuild it into the terminal of their dreams. Air Canada took the cash (without thinking it seems) and moved to terminal 6.
Now that I’ve experienced Air Canada’s move to T6 first hand, I can only imagine how smug Delta must be feeling for what they got away with. They’re sitting pretty in a spacious brand new terminal all of their own, while Air Canada got wedged into the ass-end of a very tight and cramped terminal that has no room for expansion at all.
Making matters worse is that this Air Canada 787-9 flight to YYZ is timed perfectly to match the departure time of their 737-8 MAX to YUL (or is it the other way around?). And they depart from adjacent gates large enough to accommodate nothing bigger than a CRJ-200.
If you’re flying AC792 to YYZ any time in the near future, be prepared for utter chaos and confusion in the gate area as they try to get both flights loaded and out on time. Everyone is bumping into each other, there’s nowhere to sit, and you can’t even hear the announcements over the speaker. It’s nuts.
Pro: the 787-9 is Air Canada’s flagship aircraft
I’m not exactly sure why the Air Canada management team decided to put their flagship aircraft on such a relatively short route, but they did and I thank them profusely for it. The 787-9 is a beautiful machine and better than a grungy ‘ol A320 in too many ways to count.
Because the 787-9 was purchased to fly some of their longest and most prestigious routes, Air Canada configured the economy class cabin to be quite spacious and comfortable (at least when compared to grungy ‘ol A320’s).
There’s plenty of leg room, the mood lighting is on point, and it’s a ton of fun to play with the button that controls the tint of the very large window at your seat. This is a really neat aircraft, and much more modern than anything in the fleet. Dare to check out my Air Canada A321 business class review if you don’t believe me.
Con: onboard service is essentially equivalent to Air Canada Rouge
Ok, this isn’t necessarily a 787-9 thing, but I was hoping that I’d at least get a free snack on this 4 hour flight to Toronto. Was I hoping for too much? Apparently. Because of this, I ask again: what is the purpose of Air Canada Rouge when there’s no difference in onboard service compared to the main brand?
Not only that, even WestJet serves complimentary snacks on all flights in economy (as I discussed in my Air Canada vs WestJet comparison). Why the heck is Air Canada so stingy?
I really want to take this flight again in business class, just to see what the service is like in the pointy end of the plane. The Air Canada 787-9 business class seats look really nice of course, but I can only hope and pray they offer flagship business class service to go along with those fancy seats.
Pro: The 787 is the world’s quietest large airliner (that’s just my opinion anyway)
I’ll admit it – my initial thought was to catoragize this as a “con” (because loud airplanes make me happy), but I was really impressed with how quiet the 787-9 was by the time we were on the approach into YYZ. It’s quiet. Like, library quiet. It’s so quiet in fact, that I felt more productive on this flight than I have on any other in recent memory.
Anyway, now that the SANspotter blog is in full swing, I tend to write whenever I can find the time – and over the past year I’ve found that airplanes are by far the best places for me to get some quality writing done. Most of you know that I have the attention span of a gnat, so being confined to an airplane seat without internet access is just what I need to bang out tons of content in a short amount of time. Engine noise can be annoying (unless it’s a GE90 of course), and since I write better in complete silence, this was one of my most productive flights ever.
If your schedule allows it, the Air Canada 787-9 is far and away the best option between Los Angeles and Toronto right now – even in economy class. Despite the cons I listed above, this ended up being a very nice flight and it didn’t take long for me to forget all about the frustration in the gate area before the flight.
Oh – and if you’re curious, I’m happy to report that I successfully avoided a full body cavity search by Canadian customs agents upon arrival. As entertaining as that might have been for you guys, full body cavity searches tend to put me in a cranky mood and I don’t like starting trips that way. I was a little bit bummed that I didn’t even get to show off the Canadian flag underwear I wore specifically for the occasion though…