Date: May 10, 2018
Flight No.: AC871
Route: Paris Charles de Gaulle to Montreal Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau
Airline: Air Canada
Type: Boeing 777-300ER
Air Canada operates two daily flights between Paris and Montreal, one with a Boeing 777-300ER and another with an Airbus A330-300. Back in May, I had a chance to take the earlier of those two, AC871, operated by the 777-300ER.
The flight was the first leg of a crazy cheap Paris – Montreal – Toronto – Paris ticket and it was a part of my “semi” round-the-world trip.
While I was offered the option to bid for an upgrade prior to the flight, since the lowest bid possible was nowhere near as low as during my Helsinki – Bangkok flight with Finnair last year, I just decided to stick with economy class.
Are you interested in trying business or first class for the price of economy?
If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.
Checking-in at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
I left Ibis Styles around 10AM, and headed to Charles de Gaulle airport’s terminal 2 using the CDGVAL automated train. Once I got off, I walked over to terminal 2A which is used by Air Canada.
Before being allowed to proceed to one of the check-in desks, a staff member at the end of the queue asked me where I was going. Once I said Montreal, he put a green sticker on my passport, and thanked me in Japanese.
It took a while until it was my turn to check-in given that each of the three economy class desks was occupied with someone either having to repack their bags or having some other issue. Nonetheless, some minutes later, I handed my passport to the friendly agent and in a matter of minute or two, she handed me the boarding pass.
Security took about ten minutes to clear.
CDG’s terminal 2A uses X-ray machines that have three preparation stations to speed up the check and make the queue a bit more organized. However, it was a bit frustrating since the trays would always get to the station closest to the X-ray and would almost never get to the second and third preparation stations.
Once airside, I headed towards gate A39 where the flight was departing from.
The gate, as well as a couple of others, are located in a round “annex” of the terminal connected to the rest of it with a long hallway. On my way to the gate, I could spot my aircraft wearing the airline’s new livery being prepared for the flight.
Here I have to note that Air Canada’s new livery is one of the very few that I liked from the start.
Given that all Air Canada flights at Paris Charles de Gaulle seem to be using the “distant” part of terminal 2A, its lounge is located there as well. While I was flying economy class, I was able to access it thanks to Priority Pass.
You can read my review of the lounge here.
In case you are flying in economy and don’t have a status or Priority Pass membership, there are also some video game consoles that people can freely play in the gate area.
Boarding Air Canada Flight 871
Since boarding was scheduled to start at 12:10PM, I left the lounge shortly after 12PM and headed up the escalators to the waiting area of gate A39.
Priority boarding started at 12:15PM, and about five minutes later, zone three which I was part of followed. I was selected for a random check after having my boarding pass scanned.
It involved the security staff inspecting my passport with a loupe and asking me some questions. After a couple of minutes of scrutiny, and stressing that I came from “Tokyo” and not “Turkey” as the staff first heard, I was let go, and so I headed down the jetway and got on the aircraft.
Air Canada 777-300ER Cabin
Air Canada’s 777-300ERs come in two configurations both of which feature three classes: business, premium economy, and economy.
My flight was operated by an aircraft with the “less premium” of the two configurations consisting of 28 reverse herringbone business class seats in a 1-2-1 layout, 24 premium economy seats in a 2-4-2 layout, and 398 economy class seats in a 3-4-3 layout.
My seat, 61G, was an aisle seat located in the third-last row of the aircraft. I can only recommend that seat given that the last three rows are in a 2-4-2 configuration because of the curvature of the aircraft’s fuselage meaning the aisle there is wider.
Waiting on the seat upon boarding were typical economy class quality pillow and blanket.
As for the seat itself, it was equipped with a power outlet, as well as a USB port located under the IFE screen.
Departing Paris Bound for Montreal
Boarding was completed at 12:50PM at which point the cabin crew welcomed us onboard. A welcome from the captain followed. Besides mentioning that we were just loading some last bags before being ready to go, he also mentioned that it was cloudy in Montreal.
The pushback started at 1:15PM – ten minutes behind schedule – at which point the cabin crew closed the doors and the safety video was played.
We took off about twenty minutes later, at 1:36PM.
Air Canada Economy Class Service
Less than ten minutes after take-off, the seatbelt signs were switched off, and the crew commenced the service.
First, a fairly low quality earphones were handed out.
Then, an announcement was made that the meal service would commence soon. The two meal choices were mentioned as well:
- Chicken with pesto sauce
- Vegetarian pasta
Since I was seated in the very back of the plane, by the time the crew got to me, they had already run out of the chicken. And so, I had to settle with the vegetarian pasta. (After trying the chicken on my way back, I was glad I had no choice but to eat the pasta – it was much better.)
The pasta came with a bottle of water, a cookie, a bread roll, as well as a salad. I appreciated that rather than being poured a “glass half full,” I was handed a full 0.33 liter can of Coke.
While the meal was edible, it was nothing memorable. That said, I liked the design of the cutlery pack and water bottle. (By this point, you can probably tell that I’m a fan of the refreshed Air Canada brand.)
Air Canada 777-300ER In-Flight Entertainment
Throughout the time we were taxiing to the runway as well as during the meal, I played with the in-flight entertainment system which was easy to control – both thanks to the user interface and the responsive touch screen.
It included a good selection of both old and new movies. While it was certainly not at the level of the big Middle Eastern airlines, there were still over 100 or so movies. There was also a decent selection of TV shows, although – just as with many other airlines – the problem was that there were only a couple of episodes from each.
As for music, there were tens of albums. But, to be honest, I didn’t recognize any of them. Besides that, there were about twenty games, the in-flight map, as well as the meal menu.
The aircraft was also equipped with in-flight wi-fi. While I didn’t try it, I found the price to be decent – at least for the full flight “browsing” package.
As for the higher speed “streaming” package, I think everyone would be better off just watching something off the IFE. Especially on a fairly short transatlantic flight.
Cruising Towards Montreal
About halfway through the flight, the cabin crew went around the aircraft offering water. And, about an hour after that, pretzels and a drink (in my case apple juice) were offered.
Then, about an hour before landing, a pre-landing snack service commenced. Once again, there were two choices – a chicken or a vegetables savory pastry. And, this time, I was able to get my preferred choice, the chicken one, and it was decent.
Landing at Montreal Trudeau Airport
At 1:30PM Montreal time, the captain addressed us over the PA once again. This time mentioning that we were cruising at an altitude of 36,000 feet and that we had 1 hour and 5 minutes left in the flight.
He also mentioned the weather in Montreal – cloudy and 18 degrees Celsius – once again.
Shortly after the announcement, one last drink run was made by the crew. This time, I asked for ginger ale, and rather than getting a whole can, I only got a cup. Still, I thought it was nice that they did an extra drink run after the pre-landing meal service.
The seatbelt signs were switched on at 2:17PM at which point I was enjoying watching Hangover on the IFE.
We landed at Montreal Trudeau airport at 2:39PM, and arrived at our gate at 2:43PM – eighteen minutes behind schedule.
Air Canada 777-300ER Economy Class Summary
For the price I got the ticket for, there is not much I can complain about. Air Canada provided a perfectly fine way to get across the Atlantic.
The in-flight entertainment system had enough contents to keep one busy on a long-haul flight, and I certainly welcomed the availability of power outlets in economy class. That said, I had much better meals in economy class on other airlines than I had on Air Canada.