Largely the Truth

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So You Want to Go to England: Getting There - Air Canada

18 Apr 2012  ·  by Brennan Storr  ·  Be the first to comment!

Tagged under guides travel England Air Canada

- Photo by Patrick Cardinal, licensed through Creative Commons


You know your no-account brother? The one who passes bad cheques and storms out of the intervention when your father says “You’re killing your mother – just killing her!”? If he ran an airline it would be Air Canada. Something of a running joke here in the Great White North, Air Canada has, in the span of a single decade, been bailed out by the Canadian government twice (once in 2001, again in 2009) and shows no sign of improvement.

Check-in agents are grumpy, flight attendants could frighten Rampage Jackson and should a delayed flight cause you to miss a connection in the evening there is no guarantee AC will issue you a hotel voucher.


"On second thought, miss, I don't need a blanket. But thank you."

My distaste for Air Canada is such that I wouldn’t mention the airline at all if not for my fellow Canadian readers, who are not exactly spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a Transatlantic carrier*. Given their limited options, Air Canada represents the middle ground between the higher prices and superior service of British Airways and the bargain basement airborne buses operated by Air Transat.

* Update: As of May 24th, Virgin Atlantic will be operating four flights a week from Vancouver to London Heathrow, meaning you west coasters will have even less reason to fly with Air Canada.


Fares listed below are in Canadian dollars and represent the cheapest fares available for low & high season as of this writing. These prices should be considered a baseline only as there are endless variations possible, including the day of travel, any holidays that happen to be taking place during your travel period and whether or not the website decides you have a stupid face. These prices also exclude any extras you purchase, including exit-row seating or additional bags, covered further down the page.

Remember that you will fly the class you have paid for - upgrades are a lie, like eternal happiness and the bulge in David Hasselhoff's shorts.

From Daily Departures Length Low/High Season
Calgary (YYC) 1 8h30m-9h20m $1075/1500
Montreal (YUL) 1 6h40m-7h20m $885/1400
Toronto (YYZ) 4-5 7-8h $870/1350
Vancouver (YVR) 1 9-10h $1030/1500



First bag (maximum weight 50lbs) free, second bag $70 each direction. You’ll be allowed one carry-on bag and one “personal article” (laptop, bag from the duty-free, etc). If you’re in Executive Class or Executive First then your first two bags are free. If you qualify as Air Canada Elite or Super Elite then you’re allowed to bring more luggage than a traveling production of Tosca and are probably not reading this article.



Good luck with that.
The food is uniformly awful and tastes almost exclusively of salt. You may have better luck opting for the kosher or halal meals while booking your ticket – for some reason they tend to more closely resemble real food. Not good food you understand, but it’s an improvement over “broiled salt log in tomato & salt sauce”. There is no additional charge for choosing kosher or halal. Alcohol & soft drinks are complimentary.


The seating in coach is about what you’d expect, which is to say not very comfortable but an improvement on that offered by Air Transat. All Air Canada planes are now equipped with seat-back televisions (complimentary headphones are provided should you not have your own) though I have had flights where they are inactive or broken and this is when you really start to appreciate the complimentary alcohol.

Exit row seating is priced differently than standard seats, with a premium of $90 per seat each direction. The advantage of exit row seating is that it offers more legroom and the chance to be first off the plane in the event of a “water landing”. I am, of course, kidding - if the plane goes down over the ocean you’re going to die immediately. But you’ll die immediately with plenty of leg room.


Or you'll end up confused and on network television for six years

Final thought:

Unless there is no other choice I won’t fly Air Canada and you probably shouldn’t either. My only positive experience with the airline was in the summer of 2006, on their Vancouver to Toronto route. My cousin & I were off on our first backpacking trip and we had brought toys (a plastic muppet and a ceramic smoking monkey) to photograph in different locations along the way and a flight attendant noticed us, as tends to happen when two grown men play with toys.

They got more action than we did on  that trip

Smiling, she offered to take pictures of them all around the plane and by the end of the flight we had a fun collection of pictures. I never saw the attendant again and assume that our 2.5 hour delay on the ground in Toronto was due to her being bundled off the plane and shipped to Air Canada’s equivalent of Room 101 for “correction”.


Pepe & Smoking Monkey have been waiting for her to call ever since

Check back next Wednesday for the low-down on Canada's budget airline Air Transat: The Greyhound of the Sky

Part 1: Getting Started

Part 2: Before You Go

Part 3: Getting There - Air Canada

Part 4: Getting There - Air Transat

Part 5: Getting There - British Airways

Part 6: Getting There - Freighter Cruises

Part 7: Surviving Heathrow Airport

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