I recently had the chance to test out Air Canada’s premium economy offering on a flight between Casablanca and Montreal. Here are my experiences on this Airbus A330 operated flight.
Airport and boarding
I left my house in Rabat, Morocco, at around five in the morning for my nine AM departure. An hour and a half later, my grandmother, who would be traveling with me on this flight, and I made it to Casablanca airport.
When I arrived at Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport terminal two, it seemed that everyone under the sun was flying Air Canada. Indeed, I estimate that the queue could have taken some passengers upwards of 30 minutes to get through.
Luckily for me, though, my grandmother was flying with so-called “special assistance”, aka a wheelchair, which allowed us to skip most of the crowd. However, it should be noted that Air Canada offers priority check in to all premium economy passengers.
Once checked-in, my grandmother and I rolled up to security and immigration, no pun intended. The queues were reasonable, perhaps a five to ten-minute wait. We arrived at our gate with about an hour to spare, and since we got up at four in the morning, we went for a bite to eat.
Casablanca airport offers an okay selection of food and beverage options, but seeing as we had time, we headed to Paul, a French bakery chain. For our breakfast, I ordered two croissants, two coffees and a bottle of water, which cost me €8 ($10, 96DHs). After eating, we headed back to the gate.
At around eight, Air Canada organized a secondary, or should I say tertiary, security screening. Everyone who was seated in the boarding area was asked to move behind a cord. The process was somewhat chaotic, and most certainly not appreciated by passengers already near the gate.
Seat and amenities
I made it to my seat no less than seven minutes after boarding commenced. Premium economy passengers were invited to use the second door, like economy-class guests, while business class used the first.
Waiting at my seat was a small amenity kit, a bottle of water, a pillow and a blanket. While the amenity kits were appreciated, the pillow and blanket seemed to be straight from economy class.
Speaking of the seat, this A330’s Premium Economy cabin was spread in a 2-3-2 configuration. According to Air Canada’s website, the seats measured 45.7 cm/18″ in width and featured 96.5 cm/ 38 ” pitch. Each seat also had a nice little footrest and supportive headrest.
Cabin cleanliness aside, each seat also featured an AVOD system. Unlike on my last Air Canada A330 flight, this last-generation system is a staple of the Air Canada fleet. I’ve mentioned the system once before when flying between Montreal and Edmonton, so I won’t go into details.
To put things briefly, the IFE, though a bit finicky at times, is more than suitable and provides a decent amount of content. North American power plugs were also available at each seat.
Service before takeoff
While waiting for bags to be put in the hold, a cabin crew member came around to offer us a choice of orange juice or water.
Just after 09:30, 20 minutes past our scheduled departure time, our aircraft made it to the runway. Seconds later, the two Rolls Royce engines propelled us into a slightly cloudy North African sky.
Inflight service and food
At 10:17, our meals were served. My chicken dish was served with a fresh salad and a berry dessert and my grandmother’s pasta dish was served with the same sides.
Thoughts on the flight
Overall, I have mixed, but generally positive feelings on AC’s premium economy product based on this flight. Let’s start with the negatives.
Firstly, I think Air Canada can do more when it comes to cabin cleanliness. Admittedly, I say this based on previous flights in addition to this one. But, while I can forgive accidents, such as a coffee spill on a recent Air France flight, I really do not like sitting in someone else’s crumbs, or gum, for example.
The latter form of dirtiness leaves me with the impression that the current upkeep schedule is insufficient, and maybe even cheap.
As for the positives, let me say this – the seat was spacious. Not once did I feel cramped or claustrophobic.
Indeed, thanks to the layout of the seat, I was able to work on my 14″ laptop and have a drink by my hand for most of the flight. When I decided to rest, I found ample room at my feet for my belongings, and I was able to find a comfortable position. The space is, in my eyes, perhaps the most compelling reason to buy premium economy and, in this regard, Air Canada did not fail.
Lastly, while the food wasn’t by any stretch a gastronomic delight, portions were sizable, and the quality was adequate. Compared to economy class, this was definitely an upgrade.
That is, of course, not taking into account that so-called ‘sandwich” and the lack of menus.
Have you flown Air Canada’s premium economy product? Did your experiences match ours? Have I been too harsh on the North American carrier? Let us know in the comments.