I flew across the continent in Air Canada's Signature Class, the 'best business class in North America.' It lived up to the hype, but there were a few surprises.

Business Insider Automobile 3 weeks ago

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On a recent trip to Canada, I decided I would fly home on what has been named the best airline in North America: Air Canada.

The Airline also picked up an award for the best business class in North America, so I had to see if it lived up to the hype.

The best business class award was specifically due to Air Canada's addition of its Signature Class — a business class with executive pods and lie-flat beds.

When I was booking my flight, a colleague tipped me off to the fact that not every plane offers a cabin equipped with executive pods.

He cautioned me to click into the aircraft details, which will show what type of plane the flight will be on and what the amenities are like.

As a not-so-frequent flyer, I probably would have missed this detail and could have ended up booking the regular business class seat.

After taking a look at ticket fares for multiple flight options, I found that the business class ticket wasn't that much more than the economy and premium economy fares in some cases.

I booked a Signature Class ticket for the first leg of my connecting flight: Vancouver to Toronto. I was in a regular business class from Toronto to New York since that's all that was on offer.

I arrived in the Vancouver airport prepared to be wowed by the award-winning business class experience, starting with the Maple Leaf Lounge.

While the seating area was nice and comfortable ...

... and there were amenities like cubicles for people who needed a desk ...

... and a charging station for anyone who forgot a phone charger ...

... the food was severely underwhelming.

There was a small buffet in the center of the room with snacks like hummus, salsa, chips, and veggies ...

... and then a tray of average pasta was brought out at around 5 p.m. for the dinner crowd.

There was a self-service bar with a selection of liquor ...

... along with a variety of wine ...

... and taps for beer.

Air Canada's Instagram feed boasted a Maple Leaf lounge in the same airport with a full-service bar.

But the one I visited had do-it-yourself everything.

One perk of flying business class that cannot be overstated is the privilege of being able to board the plane first, as the airline doesn't have a first-class cabin.

The lines for boarding were more overwhelming than I've ever seen, and I was so glad that I didn't have to wait.

Once I boarded, I found my seat, which had a plastic-wrapped package of blankets and a sleeping mat sitting on it.

I wasn't totally sure what to do with the mat, but I followed the lead of my neighbors and laid it out as I was ready to take a snooze.

I looked around at the amenities that came with my seat. There was a package of headphones ...

... and a branded kit that also came encased in plastic.

The kit had a package of earplugs as well as an eye mask for sleeping and socks so that I could take off my shoes.

I found all of these things inside this hidden entertainment compartment.

I settled in and hung my jacket on a coat hook in front of me, and a flight attendant quickly swooped by and offered to check it for me. Who knew there was a coat check on a plane?

The level of service continued to impress me. I was offered a glass of sparkling wine after being seated ...

... and then a warm towel shortly after take-off.

Before we left the gate, flight attendants introduced themselves individually to passengers. They already knew our names, and they let us know what we should expect over the course of the flight.

After the towel, flight attendants came around offering a cheese plate and a port wine to pair with it. More snacks followed, like a dish of mixed nuts and traveler's choice candy — I chose Kit Kat.

I decided to spend some time searching through the extensive entertainment system I had at my fingertips. Movies included both new releases and classics ...

... and the TV section had everything from sitcoms to Emmy-winning drama series.

I settled on the comedy series, "Fleabag."

One strange feature of the Signature Class seats is the airbag seatbelt — it was uncomfortable and looked like I was trying to rock a fanny pack.

As I stretched out under my blanket, I slowly drifted in and out of sleep. The bed was perfectly comfortable, but I just wasn't able to fully relax — I felt a little too confined in my pod.

Around an hour before landing passengers who confirmed they wanted breakfast were woken up and brought a tray of food. Air Canada promises "mouth-watering meals" in flight ...

... but what I was served fell way short of that. The omelet was spongey and looked more like egg soufflé, the sausage was rubbery, and there was a mushy substance in the center that I wasn't quite sure of.

It came with yogurt, cold bread, some fruit, and an instant oatmeal cup.

The bathroom in Air Canada's Signature Class was decent as far as aircraft restrooms go. It was fairly spacious ...

... and had nice-smelling soap and lotion for hand washing.

I'm five-feet-three-inches tall and I was able to put my palm on the ceiling. So someone taller may feel cramped.

The first leg of the trip was finally over and I made my way off the plane, knowing that it would probably be a long time — if ever — until I'd be flying in an executive pod again.

Farewell, ample amount of space!

The Signature Class experience is punctuated by the airline's award-winning Signature Suite in the International terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport.

But, I wasn't flying overseas from Toronto, so I wasn't able to access the lounge. Instead, I visited another Maple Leaf lounge.

The food at this lounge wasn't great either, and the lounge itself seemed more tired than the one in Vancouver, so I chose to wait by the gate for my flight.

I got to board first again, which was great.

And my seat was in row No. 1, which meant I had even more legroom than other rows in business class.

If you're going to purchase a premium ticket, I would highly recommend selecting the first row if it's available and not prohibitively expensive. Stretching out felt awesome.

The regular business class seats each also had a pair of outlets for travelers who needed to re-charge their devices.

I was offered breakfast again on this flight as well, but it was the same meal I was served on my other flight — I passed. The bathroom on this plane was the same size ...

... but the ceiling was more dramatically curved, which definitely would have been more of a challenge for a taller person ...

... and there were no fancy wall decorations or lotions. Oh well!

Upon landing in New York, I realized that although there were some disappointing surprises along the way, like no access to the Signature Suite and sub-par food, the entire experience was actually enjoyable.

If the price is right for you, I'd say Air Canada's business class — even the standard option — is worth the splurge.


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