My partner and I stepped off the plane in Toronto after a short flight from New York, to find an Air Canada concierge waiting to escort us to the lounge where we could spend our layover. The facilities offered plenty to keep us occupied: two TV rooms, a kids’ entertainment room (a nice touch), a full business center, big leather chairs with personal space, plenty of visible outlets (something a lounge should always have, but rarely does), a hot-and-cold buffet and just about every beverage I could think of. After receiving the grand tour from our friendly concierge, I made myself a cocktail at the self-service bar, loaded up a plate of snacks and relaxed while looking out over the terminal, people-watching.
When the time came, boarding the flight was a breeze, thanks to a dedicated lane for Executive First passengers. On my seat I found a set of noise-canceling headphones, a fluffy duvet, a pillow and an amenity kit—but the seat itself was the real show-stealer: At 21 inches wide, it adjusted to a fully flat bed, and the 1-1-1 configuration meant that I wouldn’t have to clamber over anyone to use the restroom later on in the flight. I just knew I’d have no problem resting on this trip, although the 12-inch monitor with on-demand entertainment choices, power outlet and USB ports looked like they’d offer some alternative options (sadly, the headphones didn’t work all too well).
The crew personally introduced themselves to each passenger, served preflight cocktails and delivered newspapers and menus. Once airborne, a hot towel, a small dish of nuts and the Champagne I’d ordered before takeoff were served. I always look forward to this part, as Air Canada serves Drappier, one of my favorite brands of Champagne.
When I finally opened my menu, I was happy that I hadn’t loaded up on too much food in the lounge—there were so many appealing in-flight options! For my appetizer, I chose smoked Atlantic salmon with pumpernickel bread, red onions, capers, herb cream cheese and cucumber—it came with a mixed green salad and provided a refreshing start to the meal. The main course I’d ordered was a bit heartier: grilled Alberta AAA beef tenderloin dripping in port-wine-and-rosemary sauce, with potato au gratin, broccoli and baby carrots.
I watched a movie while enjoying my dinner and, after I finished, I realized that I wasn’t tired, so I started another movie. Meanwhile, flight attendants frequently walked by my seat to make sure I didn’t need anything. I realized on this trip that just about every Air Canada crew member I’ve met—on this flight and others before it—is easy to engage in conversation. Whether in the galley or the lounge, a little comment here or there often leads to a genuinely enjoyable talk. Everyone I’ve met at Air Canada is so personable; I always enjoy getting to know them and learning about their different perspectives when I travel.
After eventually sleeping for a few hours, I decided to have a snack and work on my computer. Again, a crew member was never far away and always made sure I was taken care of. After another nap, the pre-arrival breakfast was served: sliced seasonal fruit followed by pancakes with maple butter, cran-apple compote and chicken sausage. It was a delicious way to both start the day and end the flight.
I have a handful of favorite airlines, each one holding its place on my list for a different reason. Air Canada scores points for serving one of my favorite types of Champagne and never running out of it on a flight. However, in my opinion, the best thing the carrier has going for it is the personable service. Like reconnecting with an old friend, flying with Air Canada always puts me at ease.
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