Flight Review: Air Canada Business Class A330-300 (AC822 YUL-BCN)


Checking my travel pictures from last summer I realized I never posted my flight reviews, so today I will start with my experience on Air Canada’s Signature Class product returning from Chicago to Barcelona last September.

Photo: Air Canada

For the record, this was my very first time flying with Air Canada. I was looking for a one way ticket from Chicago to Barcelona for the first week of September and they had a reasonable premium economy fare available for about 790€. Knowing that Air Canada allows you to bid for an upgrade, I decided to give it a go.


Air Canada partners with PlusGrade to offer customers the opportunity to bid for an upgrade to their premium cabins. I got the upgrade offer right on the booking confirmation screen, where a link takes you to the PlusGrade bidding platform.

The process is simple: name your price, provide a payment method and confirm. I noticed that Air Canada also allows their Aeroplan members to bid using their points.

As my routing was ORD-YUL-BCN, i got offered to bid  for upgrades on both my short-haul and long-haul flights. For each segment there was a brief description of the upgrade benefits, and a slider where you could select how much you would be willing to pay for such upgrade.

For the ORD-YUL segment, a roughly 2h flight onboard an Embraer E175, the bid offer ranged from 145 to 480€, which in my opinion was a bit pricey, so I passed on it.

For the YUL-BCN segment the bid offer was much more interesting though. The bid offer ranged from 610 to 1,260€. Now, adding 610€ to the 790€ I paid for my one way premium economy ticket would be a 1,400€ one way business class transatlantic ticket in high season, wich I think was reasonable given the prices available for those dates.

Before placing my bid I checked the cabin loads on ExpertFlyer. The business class cabin on my flight looked wide open (C9 D9 J9 Z9), so I felt confident placing the lowest, 610€ bid for that upgrade, also factoring in that I was bidding for an upgrade from premium economy to business, and not from an economy class fare. Two days before my flight I got confirmation that my upgrade bid had been accepted.

The short-haul flight

Surprisingly, I ended up being upgraded on the short-haul flight also! The flight was likely overbooked and, I’m guessing, Aeroplan elite member light. I’m Star Alliance Gold with United and Turkish Airlines, but I hold no status whatsoever with Air Canada.

While waiting to board I got called to the desk, where I was asked if I was ok being moved to 1A becasuse they needed to accomodate a family. The agent also informed me that my upgrade came with no meal benefits, showing me a NOML note on my new boarding pass.

But clearly the purser didn’t get the memo! I was offered a lovely burrata & feta salad and plenty of wine throughout the flight.


I had a rather long layover in Montreal so I got to spend some time in the Maple Leaf lounge.

The lounge has a nice open bar and restoration area in the front. In contrast, the seating area on the back is rather plain looking.

The restoration area includes a full salad buffet and self-service hot and warm appetizers.

There was also a warm entrees station on the other side of the restoration area. Options available that day included a chicken curry, pasta, a smoked sandwich or (of course) poutine. And you know, when in Rome…! Poutine it was for me and also some chicken curry! The food was tasty and the wine was good.

the long-haul flight

Last summer, Air canada ran a seasonal non-stop service between Montreal and Barcelona using a reconfigured A330-300, featuring 32 business class seats, a 24 seats premium economy cabin (2-3-2 configuration), and 241 seats in economy class (2-4-2 configuration).

The business class cabin layout consists of 8 rows in a 1-2-1, all-aisle access reversed herringbone configuration. Notice that not all their A330-300s have this configuration yet and may still use their old business class product. The seats are open suite style so no sliding doors, but still the cabin and the seat feels very private.

The seats feature a 70″ pitch, 21″ width and 75″ bed lengh (per SeatGuru). At boarding, a set of pillow/blanket, the amenity kit, a sanitary kit and a noise-cancelling headphones set were placed on the seat.

The sanitary kit included a face mask, alcohol wipes and hand sanitizer.

Besides the usual suspects, the amenity kit also included mouthwash and a floss pick, which was a very nice touch. Products are by Vitruvi.

And the headphoes, Air Canada branded.

The seat also featured a control panel, an overhead light and a reading light and storage space both on the side and underneath the entertainment screen. USB and 110V power outlets are also available.

Each seats feature a large, 21″ screen for the in-flight entertainment system, with pleanty of movie, TV shows, music or other enteratinemnt options as well as flight information.

In terms of food & beverages service, the dinner service was very correct. The service started promptly after take off with a beverage and packaged salted nuts and quickly followed to the dinner service, which was done quick and swiftly, perfect for those like me that prefer to sleep as long as possible.

The menu included bee, chicken, fish and vegetarian entree options. The marinated octopus appetizer was very nice, and my entree option, the braised pork cheeks, was well cooked and overall tasty.

The wine list inclues a Laurent-Perrier Brut champagne, a Canadian white (it was good!) and a very nice Chilean CabSav.

Chocolate cake and a glass of port to finish.

I can’t report on the breakfast service though, as I slept through it (meaning the bed was very comfortable with the bedding set!


Air Canada business class on their new open suites was an overall nice experience, both on the ground and onboard. The upgrade was cheap and easy to get, services onboard were correct and the dining and beverage options were tasty and delivered on time. I woulnd’t mind at all flying back with them sometime in the future!


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