Earlier this month, I flew from Paris to Los Angeles (via Montreal) with Air Canada to experience their international and North American inflight service. Meals are complimentary on long-haul flights; however, on North American and Caribbean flights, you can purchase items from their Bistro inflight meal program. There is more information on that right here.
THE LOUNGE PARIS
My experience began at Paris CDG airport at the airlines’ Maple Leaf Lounge (I had access with my Star Alliance Gold level). The lounge has seen better days but offers adequate food and drink options at various stations.
PARIS TO MONTREAL
AC 871 departed Paris at 1430 with a flight time of 7 hours. This flight included two complimentary meal services; the first was the main meal offering, and the second was a small snack service. About 15 mins after takeoff, the crew began the inflight service. I was offered headphones for free, and the special meals were delivered. Once this was completed, the meal service began (about 30 mins after takeoff). Service was relatively slow, and I received my meal about 1.5 hours after take off.
Two meal choices were offered (chicken or pasta); I opted for the chicken, which was served with some mashed potatoes and vegetables. The hot meal was edible, and the side salad wasn’t very appetising, so I mainly picked at the vegetables and mashed potato. In addition, there was also a packaged cake for dessert, bread, butter, and a bottle of water.
The most exciting thing about the meal was the wooden cutlery; it’s great to see an airline taking the initiative to reduce the use of plastics onboard.
Between meals, I visited the rear galley to see what snacks the airline would offer, and I asked for sparkling water and was given some pretzels.
Approximately 1.5 hours before landing in Montreal, the crew began the second meal service, a choice of vegetarian or non-vegetarian snack. I opted for the non-veg item; a Sweet Pepper Chicken filled pastry; it was pretty good and hit the spot. Before long, it was time to land in Montreal.
There’s nothing exciting about the free meals in economy class on Air Canada. They are pretty standard, offer a lazy pre-packaged dessert with mediocre hot meal offerings. Their buy-on-board program on the following flight was pleasantly surprising, though!
MONTREAL TO LOS ANGELES
After a quick transit in Montreal, I continued to Los Angeles with Air Canada in economy class, the flight time was 5 hours. If you purchase a latitude fare, you would receive one meal (or beverage) plus two snacks for free, while comfort fare passengers are entitled to one alcoholic beverage. For everyone else it’s a paid meal service.
Soft drinks, juice, tea, and coffee from Lavazza are offered for free on North American and Caribbean flights. I pre-purchased a voucher online before the flight, which cost CAD$10.49 plus tax and offers savings of up to 35% on onboard prices. You redeem the voucher for one meal or alcoholic beverage plus two snacks. A special code appears on your boarding pass, and the crew onboard knows to offer you something based on their paperwork. From 1 December, the airline offers Chef Jérôme Ferrer bistro boxes for sale from CAD$14.95; more info is here.
The Air Canada bistro program offers various meal options such as pizza, wraps, breakfast rolls, and mac and cheese. It’s also possible to purchase a meal from the premium cabin of the aircraft; it’s not advertised on the main bistro menu but offered on some flights. Check the inflight entertainment for the inflight menu, or ask the crew.
Ten minutes after take off the cabin crew offered headphones for sale (CAD$3.95) and the meal service started 20 minutes later.
I inquired about the hot meal from the premium cabin and was told that there were some available to purchase. I was offered two choices and opted for the chicken tagine with pearl couscous. It cost CAD$14.00, was delicious, and was a large portion of food. Plastic cutlery was provided during this flight.
I redeemed my voucher for the cheese and fruit platter and hummus snack. Both items were good, no complaints.
Of the two flights, I preferred the second flight. I found the crew to be more conversational and engaging, and the variety of food options was excellent. I had to pay for the food, but it was much more enjoyable than the free food offered on the previous sector.