This past November, I was invited by Air Canada to try its new “Signature Class” flights and services, taking the international direct flight from Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to Haneda International Airport (HND) in Tokyo, Japan. I was experiencing this Signature Class products and services from the ground up at the airport all the way up in the air on the plane.
As the Air Canada official website states, “Air Canada Signature Service is our new end-to-end premium travel experience featuring the Air Canada Signature Class cabin, formerly known as International Business Class. It is offered exclusively when flying to and from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America on board our mainline Boeing 787, 777 and 767 aircraft and our Airbus A330 aircraft.”
Air Canada Signature Service ensures a seamless airport experience with dedicated check-in counters, expedited security clearance, lounge access, exclusive boarding lanes, priority baggage handling and more. On board, Air Canada Signature Class customers are treated to exclusive service and amenities.”
In this segment, let me show you my Signature Class flight experience from Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to Haneda Tokyo International Airport (HND).
To start off, this was about a 13.5 hours direct international flight. This was my 1st time visiting Japan. My 1st time visiting Tokyo. And my 1st time flying on a business class. Yes, Air Canada gave me many 1st times (I am super grateful and thankful).
Since I was a Signature Class passenger, I was in zone 1, so therefore, there was no wait time nor any lineup, so when zone 1 was called, I just walked up to the friendly Air Canada staff, showed her my boarding pass and passport and I was one of the first group of people to board on to the plane.
As I approached the plane at the corridor, there was a signage that indicate Business Class passengers to go to one direction and the Premium Economy and Economy Class passengers go towards another direction. So…I followed the sign and headed to the Business Class cabin.
Once I approached the entrance, I was greeted by more friendly staff. They saw my boarding pass and immediately called me “Welcome Mr. Chang!” with nice smiles on their faces. Then I walked to my assigned seat, it was 5A, which I selected prior when I booked my flight. Any seats designated with a letter “A” are window view seats. I love window view as I can look outside and admire the beautiful view of the sky. Also, our section had our own washroom at the front that the Premium Economy and Economy Class passengers have no access, which means it’s unlikely to have any lineup of people waiting to use the washroom during the flight.
Pod Setup & Its Features
For the first time, I have my own space in a pod. It’s like a sleeping pod with a cubicle-like boundaries that I could call my own for the entire flight. At each pod, each Signature Class passenger received the following items:
- A seat that can recline and transform into a flatbed
- A bottle of water to hydrate during the flight
- A pillow
- Bed sheet to wrap around the seat
- A blanket
- Sound cancellation headphones
- Les Essentials pouch filled with goodies (scroll down below as I will have a video to show you what’s inside this pouch)
- TV Monitor with entertainment system
NOTE: Other than the bottle of water, all of the items I have listed above are all wrapped nicely in plastic bags, this was to let the passengers know that the items were sterilized or were brand new for our use.
The pod was super spacious. I am not 6 feet tall but there was still plenty of leg room for taller people to stretch out. The width of the seat was adequate for me and it felt very comfy as if the seat was wrapping around my body to ensure I don’t slip out of my space.
There was lots of counter top space for me to put my hat, sunglasses, smartphones and other small items. Better yet, there was a mini storage space where I plug in the noise cancellation handphones, charger for my smartphones, volume control for the TV monitor. Since I checked in my luggage, I only had a leather bag with me, so the storage space was enough for me. Additionally, there was overhead cabin storage space for us to place our carry on (if needed).
After I had placed my bed sheet, pillow, blanket, I was basically settled into my own pod. I started to play around the touch screen control panel that adjust my seat. The seat could be tilted in a number of different ways to make myself comfortable. The seat could fall flat into a bed for sleeping, or slightly tilted upwards so I could feel very relax and watch a movie or I could sit upright during take off or landing.
Once I was settled in, the friendly flight attendant introduced himself and asked if I would like to coat check my jacket. And I took the offer, so he took my jacket, placed it in a closet and handed me the coat check stub so I could claim my jacket when we land.
So…what’s inside the “Les Essentials” mini black pouch? Watch the video to find out.
After you watched the video, you will see the following items in the Les Essentials pouch:
- A pair of socks
- A dental kit (mini tooth paste; tooth brush and mouth wash)
- Ear plugs
- Sleeping mask
- Glass cloth to clean my glasses or the Smartphone screen
- A promo code to purchase Les Essentials products
- Vitruvi Skin Products
Food & Beverage Menu
The flight attendant came by and offered me a welcome beverage. You can choose between a glass of champagne or a glass of orange juice. I opted for my bubbly.
We were also provided with a food and beverage menu before take off so we can inform the flight attendant the main course of our choice. During this flight, we will be served with lunch, late night snack and breakfast. The food menu is thoughtfully designed by award winning chef, David Hawksworth, who is based in Vancouver, BC and has a number of well-established restaurants. So, chef Hawksworth created a number of his signature dishes that were available to indulge during this flight. As for the wine and beverage menu, it was designed by international renowned sommelier, Veronique Rivest. Both are solid picks for creating both menus. I was impressed.
Note: Since the list of food and beverage items on the menus are quite extensive, I have decided to put it at the bottom of this BLOG. If you would like to see the entire food and beverage menus, please kindly scroll down til the end.
FYI: Both food and beverage menu were printed in 3 languages: English; French and Japanese (for this particular flight). The lunch portion of the main course includes beef or chicken or fish or Japanese traditional meal, so I found the selection of the main course quite well-rounded. If you have dietary restrictions, please make sure to inform the Air Canada team during your flight booking or prior to take off so they can serve you better and attend to your needs.
Before lunch was served, I ordered the “Signature Cocktail” as well as a glass of Grand Marnier on the rocks.
- Main course
- Cheese plate
- Fresh season fruit
- Ice cream
- Hot beverage
After lunch, it’s basically free style. I saw some people quickly make their bed flat with a switch of a button and then fell asleep. Some others started working with their laptops (respect to these dedicated people) and others like myself began to play around with the entertainment system. The entertainment system consisted of some fun games for children and adults. I played a bit but not really my cup of tea. Then I checked out the music list, listened to some jazz. But the best part? I watched some movies, that’s the best way to kill time with a long flight. I watched a Canadian produced movie called “Little Italy” starring Emma Roberts and Hayden Christensen, produced by Vinay Virmani, who I recalled, starred in his first big gig in “Dr. Cabbie“. I met Vinay a few times during TIFF events, a super nice guy and thought I should show my support by watching the movie. It turned out to be a very nice romantic comedy movie. It’s cool to see locations that were filmed in Toronto and it’s a nice film. I highly recommend this film to everyone. I have to say, I love the list of movie selections on Air Canada flights. I think I watched more movies on flight than I normally would at home, LOL.
Late Night Snack
In case you just couldn’t sleep on the plane and start to get hungry yet again, I suggest you to grab some late night snack. There was quite a number of selections from chocolate chip cookies, chips and nuts. For me, my favourite late night snack on this flight was the dim sum. I love dim sum. It’s a trio of 3 different dim sum (Shumai; Har gow; spinach & shrimp dumpling) placed on a Napa (a type of Asian cabbage). It’s so delicious that I ordered it twice (no questions asked or hard stare, just the way I like it! All the Air Canada staff were so courteous and friendly).
Honestly, when you are sitting in the Signature Class, as long as you are ordering within reason and being polite and courteous, you can basically order whatever you want on the flight. Of course, also drink responsibly, don’t go crazy on the flight. You surely don’t want to get smash and get out of control. At the end of the day, you don’t want to disrupt other passengers and you want a safe flight to your destination.
By the way, I also ordered another late night snack, it’s hot noodle with shrimp and pork Wonton with Gai-lan (aka Chinese broccoli). I have to say, the soup temperature was hot, just the way I like it. The shrimp and Wonton dumplings were reasonably tasty. The only ingredient I didn’t like was the the noodle. Instead of using the traditional Wonton egg noodle, they compensated it with instant noodle. I know on flight, it’s hard to cook egg noodle but there are plenty of good instant thin noodles out there in the market that are better than the thick, rough tasteless noodles that was served to me. It’s no big deal but the noodles could be better.
Rise & Shine for Breakfast
- Orange juice
- Seasonal fruit
- Choice of bakery bread (I chose Croissant)
- Choice of entrees (I chose Japanese pork kat-su don, which is fried pork cutlet with egg, seaweed on steam rice)
Overall, the quality of the food were pretty up to my standard. In particular, I really like the smoked trout, the sliced boiled egg along with the pickled onions was my favourite dish. It’s one of David Hawksworth’s signature dish and I could understand why. The trout was perfectly made, it was tender and not overcooked.
As for the beverage list, I really enjoyed the wide selection of signature cocktails, the wine selection was phenomenal as well. Hot beverages, juice and pop were also impressive.
By the way, before I got on this flight, I was a bit concerned about waking up everyone on the flight coz I snore. However, prior to the flight, I have friends who told me that with the noise cancellation headphones that everyone wears on the flight, no one can hear me snore. And they were right, everyone wore the noise cancellation headphones as the cabin could be quite noisy with all the engine vibrations and ventilation sound. So, I got a good night sleep without any worries. I was so glad!
NOTE: Upon arriving to Tokyo, Japan, the flight attendant handed out the Japan Declaration Form (in both English and Japanese). It’s very straight forward but you do have to fill it out whether you are entering the country as tourists or residents.
Overall Signature Class Experience
Ever since I immigrated from Hong Kong to Toronto many moons ago, I have never travelled on any long distance flight since. I still recall that last flight was over 16 hours and it was brutal. Since then, I only travel to Europe with flights that are between 6 to 8 hours max.
With this direct international Signature Class flight from Toronto to Tokyo with Air Canada, the flight was around 13.5 hours. I am not going to lie, before the trip, I wasn’t sure how I flare on this trip.
But with the Air Canada Signature Class, I had my own sleeping pod with the seat that can fold down into a flat bed. I was able to stretch my legs with plenty of room. The spacious pod definitely was a great way to give me more confidence of travelling to far distance destinations.
From this Signature Class flight, I learned more about myself that….if I am able to stretch my legs on a flight, I would be able to travel to destinations that are long distance, far away from Toronto, Canada. Perhaps I will now fly to more Asian countries. For me, it’s the comfort of the seat/bed, the ability to stretch my legs. And of course, the good food and beverages as well as the good list of songs, movies and games on the entertainment system also helped me make the travel a lot more easier.
The only 2 minor suggestions that I would like to see in future Air Canada Signature Class flights, perhaps a PlayStation console or a Nintendo Switch so I can play Fortnite or Mario Brothers games. Playing video games will help me kill time. Another suggestion would be if the seat has massage capabilities. I love massage and if the flatbed seat could even do massage, I will be extra happy. Anyhow, these are just some bucket list items, you never know, it maybe possible! Anything is possible!
I really enjoyed my Signature Class flight experience with Air Canada. Thank you Air Canada!
The Signature Class flights & services from Toronto, Canada to Tokyo, Japan were provided by Air Canada. However, as always, the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.