I flew on Air Canada in economy from London to Montreal and while the Boeing 787 was comfortable, the food was a real disappointment

International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
I flew from London to Montreal on Air Canada's Boeing 787 and was disappointed with the food.
I usually enjoy airplane meals, but both had an odd taste and texture that reminded me of baby formula.
Despite the disgusting food, I found the seat roomy and comfortable, but I probably wouldn't book the stretcher again.
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Flying internationally can be a hit-or-miss experience, especially this year as the industry recovers from the pandemic.
People wait in long lines for security at Heathrow Airport on June 1.Carl Court/Getty Images.
What to do if an airline throws you off a plane you're already on
From lost luggage to canceled flights, airlines are less reliable than ever, and travelers are losing faith in the industry.
Unclaimed luggage piles up at London Heathrow Airport on July 8, 2022.PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images.
Flying has become a nightmare as cancellations and delays skyrocket. Experts say it could get worse.
Knowing the risks of flying this summer, I was concerned about my recent trip from London to Montreal on Air Canada, particularly as I had to depart from Heathrow Airport which has introduced a passenger cap due to staffing issues.
Grace Dean/Insider
Heathrow Airport, a key global travel hub, is urging airlines to halt ticket sales and capping passenger numbers amid travel chaos
Not to mention, Air Canada has experienced many flight disruptions this year, having canceled or delayed over 14,500 flights since May 25, according to FlightAware data shared with Insider.
Josef Hanus/Shutterstock
A family of four missed a long-awaited Disney cruise after Air Canada canceled their flight, joining hundreds of passengers with vacation plans thwarted by summer travel chaos
I wasn't sure if the airline would provide a smooth experience, but to my surprise, the operation was solid. We left and arrived on time; However, I would never fly the airline internationally again for one reason - the food. That's what it was like to fly Air Canada.
The plane at the gate in Montreal.Taylor Rains/Insider
I started my journey from London's busy Heathrow Airport at 5:30am - four hours before my 9:30am flight. This was on the recommendation of the airline listed on my boarding pass.
A screenshot of my boarding pass recommending arriving four hours early.Taylor Rains/Insider
I expected the airport to be crowded and I wasn't wrong. When we walked in, there were insanely long lines for baggage drop, including people queuing outside because there wasn't enough space in the check-in lobby.
Passengers with checked baggage lined up outside Heathrow's Terminal 2. Taylor Rains/Insider
Luckily, I packed 11 days' stuff into a carry-on bag and a personal item so I didn't have to go to the Air Canada check-in baggage claim area.
My carry-on and duffle.Taylor Rains/Insider
However, I stopped by to see if the counter was busy and it was surprisingly tame. Many kiosks were open and the bag drop line was short. That was probably because I arrived so early.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
After checking in online, I didn't need to be in the check-in area, so I made my way to security.
There were kiosks where you could check in and get a boarding pass. Taylor Rains/Insider
Heathrow only allows passengers to carry a sachet's worth of toiletries through the checkpoint, so I spent about 10 minutes pouring my liquids from my carry-on into the transparent bag.
Successfully put all my toiletries in the small bag. Taylor Rains/Insider
After finally organizing my toiletries, I scanned my boarding pass and made my way through the line, which only took about 15 minutes. The airport had opened several lanes and agents helped get everyone through quickly.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
The entire process, from drop-off to security, took just 30 minutes. I think this was due to the early hour of my arrival, so for travelers planning to fly out of Heathrow - book a morning flight and arrive super early.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
I had about three hours to kill before boarding, so I grabbed a coffee and a snack before walking 15 minutes to my gate. Terminal 2 is huge so I'm glad I didn't wait until the last minute to go to the B gates.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
I sat there about an hour before the plane started boarding. At the gate, passengers were reminded that Air Canada still requires masks.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.\Taylor Rains/Insider
In addition, the agent said there will not be enough overhead space to accommodate all carry-on bags. I was concerned about the horror stories of lost luggage and specifically planned not to check any. Luckily I put mine on with no problems.
I was on a full flight.Taylor Rains/Insider
Cruise passenger embarrassed to wear sweatpants for the 15-day "trip of a lifetime" after Air Canada failed to deliver her delayed luggage, the report said
As I booked a basic economy ticket, I was not given a seat assignment or boarding zone at check-in, but the agent told anyone without a zone to wait until zone 5 was called.
My boarding pass with no zone or seat.Taylor Rains/Insider
That meant I was one of the last people on the plane. However, I knew this would be the reality of booking the cheapest fare, so I didn't mind.
The plane at the gate in London.Taylor Rains/Insider
After scanning my boarding pass, a small piece of paper emerged from the machine that assigned me seat 41C, the last row of the plane.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
Air Canada's Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was nothing special and reminded me of most other mainline airlines I've been on.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
Business Class was in front…
Air Canada Business Class. AirCanada
Source: Air Canada
…followed by Premium Economy…
International flight on an Air Canada 787.\Taylor Rains/Insider
...and proper economy.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
Premium Economy reminded me of United Airlines' Premium Plus couches, although Air Canada's looked a little less padded. United and Air Canada are both members of the Star Alliance.
United Airlines Premium plus.Taylor Rains/Insider
I went to row 41 and was surprised to see that there were only two seats - middle and aisle. The rest of the economy class cabin was in a 3x3x3 configuration.
View from my seat to the window.Taylor Rains/Insider
Technically, the center seat was a window, although there was a large gap between it and the fuselage wall. Still, the open space was the perfect spot to stash my travel bag.
There was a large gap under the window. Taylor Rains/Insider
I stowed my carry-on a few rows in front of me because the overhead bins above rows 40 and 41 were cabin crew only. It wasn't a big deal as I had everything I needed for the flight in my personal item.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
While we waited for takeoff, I settled into my seat and explored the amenities on offer.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
According to SeatGuru, the economy pitch on the Boeing 787-8 varies from 30 to 34 inches. My seat was 31 inches apart and 17.3 inches wide, which I found to be plenty roomy. However, I'm only 5'3" and on the small side, so taller travelers might feel cramped.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
Source: SeatGuru
The bulkhead and exit row had plenty of leg room so I suggest upgrading if you want more room.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
As for the product itself, it was exactly what I expected. The seat offered good back support…
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
... a TV screen with lots of movies, TV shows and games ...
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
...USB ports in the screen and sockets under the front seat...
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
...a large tray table...
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
...an adjustable headrest...
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
...and darken windows. The dark environment helped passengers block out the sun during the daytime flight.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
Also, the seat came with a pillow and blanket which helped me sleep…
The last row in the middle (pictured) was reserved for the crew. Taylor Rains/Insider
...and the toilet was large with plenty of room to move.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
For passengers who, like me, don't have wired headphones, Air Canada gives out a pair before takeoff. I used them and found the sound was fine and they didn't hurt my ears.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
We pushed back from the gate on time and were soon on our way to Montreal. The flight lasted about six and a half hours.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
After takeoff, I started browsing the inflight entertainment system. There was a cool moving map that tracked the entire flight...
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
...but I was particularly impressed when I saw the menu being loaded into the system. Options included a chicken dish with mash and a pasta dish. I opted for the pasta.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
Although the meals sounded good on paper, I was very disappointed that nothing about Air Canada's meals was appetizing.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
Service started about an hour into the flight departure and I was excited to try the food. Unlike many other frequent flyers, I like airplane food and have toured several kitchens where it is made.
Inside Gate Gourmet's Washington Dulles kitchen. Taylor Rains/Insider
I've tasted meals prepared by the world's largest supplier of airline meals, so I'll never look at in-flight meals the same way - but for good reasons
Most recently I've flown long haul with KLM, United and JetBlue and loved every meal, so I expected the same from Air Canada, especially as a major carrier and part of a large international alliance.
International inflight meal on JetBlue (New York to London).Taylor Rains/Insider
But to be honest the taste and texture was disgusting. The pasta had an uncomfortably spicy taste, while the side salad was just pickles covered in too much dressing.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
However, I ate the bun with butter, and the chocolate dessert wasn't too bad. That, along with the bag of pretzels I brought, was enough to last me through lunch.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
However, the second meal was no better. We were offered a chicken or veggie pastry and chose the vegetarian option. There were no pages.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
Like the first dish, the pastries were not very good either. The veggies were mashed into a paste that reminded me of baby food and I stopped eating after a few bites.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
On the other hand, the airline offers free alcoholic drinks to all economy passengers, so I got Diet Coke and Bacardi.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
The airline also had good coffee, as well as very attentive flight attendants and commercial pilots.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
This was my first time flying Air Canada and while I found the seat comfortable and roomy, I doubt I will ever book the airline internationally again.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
The food was just inedible in my opinion and I expected to eat on the flight so I was hungry for most of the trip.
I liked the coffee - it didn't taste burnt like other airlines I've been on. Taylor Rains/Insider
If I need to book Air Canada again in the future due to time or budget issues, I will arrange for more snacks to be brought on board. And fortunately I can count on a comfortable seat.
International flight on an Air Canada 787.Taylor Rains/Insider
Read the original article on Business Insider

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