Trip Review: Air Canada Airbus A330 Economy – Montreal To Dublin

Air Canada has seen considerable success and growth in the last couple of years. After trying out their domestic economy class, I thought it necessary to give their long-haul a try as well. Here are my experiences flying from Montreal to Dublin on the carrier’s Airbus A330.

AC A300
Air Canada Airbus A330. Photo: Author

Montreal airport experience

I arrived in Montréal at around 18:00 on an inbound flight from Edmonton. With a little more than two free hours between my flights, I decided to work online and window shop. Montreal airport offers free, decently fast WiFi which only requires an email address to connect.

Montreal Departure Area
Montreal’s departure Area. Photo: Author

Feeling rather hungry thanks to time zones, I grabbed a sparkling water and a Montréal smoked meat sandwich at Café-U. The meal cost me just under 15 CAD and was rather satisfying. Unfortunately, I scoffed the sandwich down before I thought of taking a photo.

At around 10 past 8, I headed to my boarding gate, number 58. International flights, unlike domestic ones, fly out of a highly modernized area of the airport.
The international departures area, accessible with a valid boarding pass, features large sitting areas, a decent amount of shops, varied food options and great views.
Montreal Airport AC Rouge
Montreal Airport AC Rouge 767 and AC A330. Photo: Author
Pro tip: if you have time to spare and want to relax, look for relaxation areas hidden around the gates.
Montreal Airport Relaxation Area
Montreal Airport Relaxation Area near gate 56. Photo: Author

Boarding

At 20:35, five minutes past the stated boarding time, an announcement was made informing us that boarding would be delayed due to cleaning.
Nearly 20 minutes later, the gate agents notified us that we would have to wait for an additional 10 to 15 minutes for boarding. Slightly tired, and aware of the 7 or so hours I would be spending seated, I decided to go for a walk rather than sit around and wait.
While on my walk, I came across a British Airways 787 and a seat-cover featuring and thankfully explaining colloquial Quebecois expressions.
YUL "Tire-Toi Une Buche"
YUL “Tire-Toi Une Buche”. Photo: Author
Though amused, I decided against pulling myself a bûche, and opted to stretch my legs instead.
Finally, at 15 minutes past nine, the gate employees announced priority boarding. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in that queue and had to wait until they announced boarding for zone five. Which, by my books, is a sort of “‘put everything that doesn’t fit in other boxes” zone.
BA 787 at YUL
British Airways 787 at YUL. Photo: Author
Indeed, according to the airline’s website, zone five is for everyone who does not have priority and who did not book basic economy. It’s reserved for most economy passengers and those who purchased a ticket with another airline. Having booked with Lufthansa, I was placed here.
Something odd happened though when the agent scanned my boarding pass. Rather, than the scanner flashing green to let me through or, flashing red to deny my boarding, nothing really happened. Instead, the gate agent looked at me curiously, typed a few things on his computer, and eventually let me through.
Air Transat A330 at YUL
Air Transat A330 at YUL, please pardon the window reflections. Photo: Author
Although this might have been a one-off case of a slow computer, or an error, it was far from the first time this has happened to me. Indeed, whenever I scan my boarding pass in Montreal, Dublin, or Zurich, there always seems to be a slight, and generally awkward, delay, which sometimes requires manual input from the agent.
If anyone has any ideas of what might be going on with my boarding passes, I’d be curious to know.

The “weird” A330s

I eventually arrived at my seat at 21:30. Waiting at my seat was a kind elderly lady seated next to me and, no window.

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AC A330 "Window Seat"
AC A330 “Window Seat”, row nine. Photo: Author
Indeed, on this previously TAP-owned ‘weird’ Airbus, row nine has no window. This came as somewhat of a shock to me as there was no indication of this anomaly on Air Canada’s seat-selection page. Oh well.
Unlike many other AC A330s, this model featured a cream-colored interior, a last- generation AVOD, a large door 2 galley and, lie-flat premium economy.
Pro Tip: If you’re booked on an Air Canada A330 and don’t know which layout you will have, note that the most common A330s have economy class starting in row 18. All previously TAP or Singapore owned aircraft, such as mine, have economy class from row six.
AC A330 AVOD
AC A330 AVOD. Photo Author
Speaking of AVOD, the highly prolific remote-controlled system featured a great selection of movies and TV-shows across various categories. Also available was a moving map and games, along with standard USB and power ports. WiFi, though, didn’t seem to be offered on this particular flight.
As for the seat, it was a standard A330, though not AC, affair. Featuring around 18inches of width and 32 inches of pitch. The seat also featured a footrest, a coat hook, and a bi-folding tray table. The seats were rather plush and boasted a moveable headrest.
Dirty Dirty A330
Dirty, Dirty AC A330. Photo: Author
While the seat was comfortable enough, the buildup of dirt in and around the seat detracted from my overall impressions.

Flight preparations and takeoff

As boarding commenced, the captain, who had a very pronounced French accent in French yet spoke impeccable English, came on the speakers to welcome everyone on board. Moments later, the crew came around to do their departure checks and we pushed back at 21:43.
Though I would have liked to give more commentary on our airport movements, the lack of a window made it hard to keep track of things.
AC A330 Coat Hook
The coat hook was well appreciated. Photo: Author
While we taxied towards the runway, the crew did a manual safety briefing in both French and English. If memory serves me well, however, I don’t recall the need for a manual briefing on my outbound flight. Nonetheless, the necessary information was served with clarity and professionalism.
Just before the clock struck 10, we turned on to the runway and sped into the night. Something that struck me was the quietness of the Rolls-Royce powered jet, with the only identifiable noise being the squeak of the overhead bins and the landing gear’s retraction. With that, we were off towards Dublin with 45 minutes of delay.

Food and amenities

Aside from an obvious lack of a window and my kind seatmate, waiting for me at my seat was a slightly thin pillow and a grey plastic-warped blanket. Rather kindly, Air Canada also provided some headphone adapters, perhaps due to customer feedback.

AC heafphone adapter
Air Canada offed headphone adapters. Photo: Author
At 22:40 the crew came around offering a choice between a chicken or pasta dish. I choose the latter, though I think I received the former.
Rather disappointingly, when I opened my tray table, I found some leftovers from the flight before. Again, my impressions of the cabin cleanliness were diminished by lapses in upkeep.
AC meal tray with left-overs
Air Canada meal tray, and last flight’s leftovers. Photo: Author
Along with the rather small dish, the tray featured a bottle of water, some corn salad, bread and a brownie.
A few moments after meals were served, drinks were offered, and I asked for sparkling water and red wine. The French wine, a mix of Grenache Noir, Merlot and Marselan, was tasteful enough, featuring a fuller body and notes of blackberry accompanied by some astringency from the tannin.
AC meal tray with drinks
My dinner and drinks on Air Canada’s A330. Photo: Author
As for the food itself, I found my pasta, I mean chicken, to be of decent flavor though, rather overcooked. Unlike many of Air Canada’s Europe to Canada meals, which are long life, perhaps frozen, items, I found this Montreal catered meal to be of much better quality and taste.
While I found the mains okay, I was impressed by the corn salad. Not only was the corn crunchy but, it was decently sweet and didn’t give the impression that it had come from a can. The bread, however, was rather chewy, and the same could have been said for the brownie.
Meal in detail
The fresh mains were fully acceptable and the salad was rather nice. Photo: Author
After the modestly sized, carbohydrate heavy meal, I sipped on my wine and watched a movie.

The last hour of flight

Shielded from the light by my trusty eye-mask, I woke up to the noise of the crew coming around offering drinks and a light breakfast.

With more than an hour before landing, I, like everyone else, was offered a slice of gingerbread and a choice of hot drinks.
Air Canada Breakfast
The tasty ginger cake is rather nice and easy to eat after a few hours of rest. Photo: Author
Still somewhat asleep, I slowly sipped on my coffee and nibbled on the rather tasty cake.
I spent the rest of the flight watching a TV-show and passing the time on my phone. 20 minutes before landing, the crew instructed us to bring our seat-backs forward and to clip our seat belts.
AC tray table miror
The mirror was well appreciated, however, the user experience wasn’t great thanks to the build-up of dirt. Photo: Author
We eventually made a smooth touch down at 8;43 Dublin time, and with that, our transatlantic hop was over.
As I was seated towards the front of the aircraft, and was traveling with nothing but a cabin bag, I made it through immigration and baggage claim at Dublin airport in no time.
Dublin Airport Arrival
Good morning Dublin! Photo: Author
Overall, Air Canada offered a very reasonable service on this transatlantic flight. That said, it was not perfect by any means. The food, while decent, was appreciably better and fresher than what I was served on my Dublin to Montreal flight. And, the cabin, although comfortable, could use an assiduous cleaning. 
Have you flown Air Canada across the pond? How did your experiences compare to mine? How important is cabin cleanliness to you? Let us know in the comments.

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Tim Lyle

I flew Air Canada myself and wasn’t too impressed either. The cabin was blah, dirty, and the service wasn’t very good at all. It seems Air Canada operates under the status quo. To be honest, when we booked our trip across the pond from the U.S. to Europe I was rather excited to fly Air Canada because I had never flown them before, but as I mentioned above, there was a reason I never flew them and probably won’t ever again.

JackFlash

According to Business Insider October 2018:
“For the second year in a row, Air Canada was named the best airline in North America by Skytrax”.
I had flown from Detroit to Amsterdam round trip with Delta (NWA at the time) . Did not find it any better than AC.

Norman

That dirt and debris is completely unacceptable and enough to put me off flying Air Canada. I hope you carry cleaning wipes and disinfectant gel.