Route: London Heathrow to Toronto Pearson International
Departure date and time of flight: 4th March 2010, 12PM
Flight Number: AC857
Flight duration: 8h 15m
Class: Economy Class
Aircraft type: A330-300
Punctuality of the flight: Departed on time, and landed on time.
Any baggage issues: None
Comments on the check-in staff and any issues:
Considering that I had missed my morning flight (thanks to London morning traffic on the M4!), I was put on the next flight with ease. The check in staff were professional, polite and assisted with any queries as required. Although, despite being told that the flight was full, it turned out that around 30 percent of the plane was empty (which was good news), and passengers were allowed to move to other seats as per their own will after take-off.
Comments regarding the pre-meal service:
Choice of drinks and a packet of “Maized and Confused Corn Chips” (branded for Air Canada)
Comments regarding the first meal:
For the lunch service there were two options for the main dish: chicken with salad OR beef with salad. I opted for the chicken with boiled carrots and potato salad. The chicken tasted like a semi-hardened chewy sweet (if you see what I mean)- when I mean hard, I mean it was hard to chew and hard to cut with the knife (one would have thought that this would be easier), but it did take quite an effort to cut the chicken with the fork and knife! Accompanying the main dish was a soft bread bun with traditional English butter, a soft cookie (made by a local British brand), and a salad dish consisting of boiled pasta, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese balls and lettuce all sprinkled with fine olive oil. The good thing was that the meal service began almost straight after the Captain switched off the “seat belt” sign!
Comments regarding the drinks service:
There was a choice of the following:
Canada Dry Beer
Vigne Elisa Red Wine
Vigne Elisa White Wine
Orange Juice, Coca Cola, Sprite, Diet Coke, Apple Juice (All brands were Canadian, except Coca-Cola and Sprite)
Tea and Coffee
Canadian Club Whiskey and J&B Whiskey (Both in 50ML bottles)
Comments regarding the in-flight snacks (if any):
After takeoff passengers were freely allowed to help themselves to drinks and more of those packets of “Maized and Confused Corn Chips”!
Comments regarding the second meal (if any):
About 90 minutes before landing, we were treated to a “Monty’s Bakehouse” posh hot wrap. The choices were either a chicken fajita or a sweet potato warp. The chicken fajita ran out by the time the trolley got to me, so had no choice but to take the sweet potato. Now, if you are a fan of airline meals (like me!), then this small portion would have been nothing short of disappointment for you because for an airline of the same caliber as Air Canada, 10 years ago there would have been a full service meal both before landing as well as after takeoff. However, maybe because of the economic crisis or just the necessity of reducing in-flight meal costs, major airlines are having to cut down on the luxury of airline food! The chicken fajita would not fill you up, but it was enough to be classed as an afternoon tea snack.
Comments on the in-flight system (if any):
There was a wide selection of movies, TV serials, radio channels (both Canadian and British), music (International, Canadian and British). However, my In-flight entertainment system was not working...well the touch screen mode was useless. I tried using the system on two other empty seats and they were not working either. Cabin crew did not know how to fix the problem, despite trying their best. However, considering it was not a long flight, and that I managed to doze off for around 4 hours in between the Atlantic Ocean, so it really did not make that much of a difference. I could easily have easily lived without listening to Kenny G!
Comments of professionalism of the cabin crew:
There were no major issues or problems. One of the crew members could not resist questioning me on why I was taking photos of the in-flight meals- she even went to ask if I was an inspector for Gate Gourmet (the in-flight meals provider to Air Canada).
Another minor but important incident was when I asked another cabin crew member, who did not happen to converse well in English, for a tissue paper. She replied: “Oh, you can get one from the toilet”. Clearly she did not have enough training for customer service! I immediately went to the galley and spoke to the senior purser regarding this “minor but important matter”. Apparently there was a communication problem- there were lots of tissues in the galley, prompting the cabin crew to apologise.
Improvements that could be made:
An airline is an ambassador for its country- its flagship carrier around the world, and an image of the country. Immediately upon setting foot onto the plane, it’s almost as if the passengers have already entered that country. So when I put my foot onto the Air Canada aircraft at Heathrow, did I feel as if I am in Canada? I suppose I could say yes to some extent. There are few things that could be improved for Air Canada. Now, this is my personal viewpoint as an airline reviewer. While most of the staff were proud of their Canadian culture and airline- and seemed to provide a very professional service, it seemed to me that one or two of the cabin crew did not enjoy their work. You could almost feel that from their attitude. It’s almost as if they were doing the job but not really taking things personally as some of the other cabin crew do.
For example, when a customer asks something, the cabin crew should try to assist rather than point the passenger to another angle. Cabin crew have a tough job to do, especially when, say, 250 passengers are to be looked after- however this was not a fully packed flight- it was a relaxed atmosphere and I was disappointed with the response that the particular cabin crew gave to me.
The quality of the in-flight meal could improve. The chicken tasted very tough (like rubber) and had a bland taste...did not feel fresh. In actual fact it, sadly, reminded me of a chicken leg and rice meal I had once on a street in the outskirts of New Delhi in 1988.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort):
The Airbus A330 plane is used on the medium to long haul routes by Air Canada, and had a 2-3-2 configuration in Economy Class. The seats were comfortable and standard as per any other Economy Class seat. The ambiance of the cabin portrayed a fresh feeling- it is coloured thin blue (almost like a cloudy sky with shades of light blue). The seats have a two way head rest so that you can pull down the head adjuster on either side.
Overall rating 1-10 (worst-best): 7
About Airline PR
This is a special section on Airline Branding, and Airline Public Relations written by me on all the flights I have been fortunate enough to have been on. These are not records taken from somewhere else, but are actual flights I have been on. Most of the flight trips are officially sponsored by the airline companies in order to promote their certain routes, and aircraft. Airline promotion and PR related work in the aviation industry is one of my expertise.
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