The Airbus A220 Experience: Flying Air Canada From Vancouver To Edmonton

On July 16th, Air Canada hosted at least two flights for media and trade representatives to experience CleanCare+ and other COVID-19 safety measures onboard their aircraft. While an article was previously written on this trip with a focus on these health and safety measures, we didn’t get a chance to focus on the Airbus A220 experience itself entirely. This article will look specifically at Air Canada’s newest addition to its fleet, and what travelers can look forward to when flying this aircraft.

Air Canada A220 cabin
The A220 has gained a reputation for being more oriented for passenger comfort. This includes a wider middle seat and larger windows. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Some preamble about the flight

This was definitely not your average flight. The whole trip was a demonstration for the media, centered around COVID-19 safety. At least two flights of this nature were arranged on the day. My flight took guests from Vancouver to Edmonton and back, while on the east coast, I believe a similar trip took place between Toronto and Montreal.

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I say all of this to inform you that this wasn’t a typical Air Canada flight. While I would hope that all guests are treated the same, no matter what the flight, one would imagine that flight attendants on this day were on their very, very best behavior. One could assume this, knowing that they would be serving an aircraft full of media, Air Canada executives, and other VIPs.

With that being said, there were plenty of aspects of this flight that will apply to most travelers.

Air Canada A220
I was seated in the economy class cabin, at seat 16A. As far as a window-view at this row is concerned, the wing and engine do obstruct part of your view. Window seats at Row 14 and higher would offer a clearer vista of the world outside. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Cabin space and seating

While the A220 is smaller than narrowbodies like the Boeing 737 or Airbus A320, it feels bright and spacious – more than my experience on an older Embraer E190. The overhead bins appear to be quite generously sized as well.

I was seated in the economy class cabin, which is set up in a 3-2 configuration. I didn’t sit in a middle seat, but the A220 is known for offering a bit more width for that less-than-ideal placement.

Air Canada A220 cabin
Large overhead lockers and a 3-2 configuration are unique aspects of the A220. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

The legroom in this cabin is fantastic. I am 5’11” (180cm) and felt unrestricted in my ability to stretch out. I think as far as lateral stretching is concerned, the aisle seat gives a bit more space due to the slight curvature of the fuselage below the window.

Air Canada A220
The legroom was great for a person of my height. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying
Air Canada A220
The window seat leg space is a little narrower – not ideal for storing a personal item below. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

The seats themselves offer four-way adjustable headrests (which is quite common these days) on a vinyl surface. The seats weren’t super ‘cushy ‘…I think ‘firm’ would probably be the best word to describe the level of softness.

As mentioned in the companion article, I was a little bit disappointed with the amount of recline on these seats. The pre-recline is quite upright, while the recline doesn’t offer much more. In fact, ‘fully reclined’ feels almost like the pre-recline of a widebody/long-haul aircraft. Of course, as these jets are more prone to making short flights, this is understandable.

Vancouver from Air canada plane
A shot of downtown Vancouver. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

My apologies for not being able to comment on the A220s lavatory as I didn’t get the chance to use or it check it out. While this isn’t always something that gets reviewed, the A220’s lavatory is something special as it offers a window.

Inflight entertainment

Flying domestic short-haul around the world will provide you with different IFE experiences. For example, European legacy carriers operating within the Schengen zone will often have aircraft void of IFE systems. However, the presence of an entertainment system is something Air Canada does well. Having flown on one or two-hour-long domestic flights with the airline previously, I do recall that even their now-retired Embraers had systems installed.

Air canada IFE Wifi
Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Needless to say, the system was brand new, fast, and very responsive to touch input. The selection of content seemed quite robust, as well.

These A220s do offer inflight WiFi at a cost. Instructions can be accessed through the IFE menu.

IFE Ports
In addition to the common USB-A port, I think this is the first time I’ve noticed a USB-C port as part of a system.  Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

In addition to the ports just below the screen, there is in-seat power for laptop charging below the seats. One socket is shared between the two seats on the left side while two outlets are shared between the three seats on the right.

The inflight meal

This portion of the article is definitely one that won’t line-up with a typical flight. Flying in economy class between Edmonton and Vancouver won’t get you very much. The airline says that for flights under two hours, a complimentary water bottle service will be offered – and that’s it. Over two hours in domestic, a bar service of bottled water and limited soft drinks (Coke, Diet Coke, Ginger Ale) will be offered.

However, in economy class, food is available for purchase in the form of a pre-packaged Bistro box.

The below meal is what guests can expect when traveling out of North America in economy class:

Air Canada inflight meal
In this boxed meal is a bread roll, salad, brownie, and what I believe is ‘moussaka’ on a bed of millet. A description wasn’t provided for this meal. All items are cold. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

On the outbound flight, we received a meal that represented the airline’s Signature Class (business class):

Air Canada
Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying
Air Canada signature class
Below the paper card is the creme caramel. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Health and safety

As already mentioned, the companion article to this goes into much greater depth on the airline’s health and safety measures. However, I might as well take the opportunity to note that all guests are offered a Care Kit, as pictured below. Looking back at our reports of airlines and their coronavirus response measures, these kits are a step above what many other airlines are offering guests:

Air Canada’s care kit as part of CleanCare+. Gloves, masks, sanitizer, wipes, and a bottle of water make up the kit. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

An exciting product

As published pre-pandemic by Routesonline, the airline had exciting plans for its new A220s:

  • Montreal – Halifax
  • Montreal – Nassau 
  • Montreal – Vancouver
  • Toronto – Halifax
  • Toronto – Vancouver
  • Montreal – Denver 
  • Montreal – Seattle 
  • Toronto – San Jose CA 

Much of this has now changed, unfortunately. However, this does provide an idea of what Air Canada had planned before coronavirus hit. With flights out of Vancouver to both Montreal and Toronto lasting around five hours, passengers might be spending extended periods of time on the A220.

While the seats aren’t the softest, everything else about the aircraft makes for a pleasant journey.

Air Canada A220
Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Have you flown on Air Canada’s A220 yet? Or are you hoping to at some point? Let us know in the comments.

Route information above is courtesy of Routesonline.