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AC20/19 Singapore to Vancouver Nonstop on Air Canada, and a Solar Eclipse in Montreal

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  • AC20/19 Singapore to Vancouver Nonstop on Air Canada, and a Solar Eclipse in Montreal

    Earlier this month I travelled to Montreal for a business meeting. My trip was perfectly timed to catch the new Air Canada nonstop service from Singapore to Vancouver, operated by Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.

    I flew AC20 SIN-YVR in business class on 6 April, just 2 days after the inaugural on 4 April, and returned on AC19 YVR-SIN in premium economy a week later. I also did domestic sectors YVR-YUL-VVR in AC premium economy, on an A330 and 77W respectively.

    In between, I spent a week in Montreal, exploring this city for the first time. Montreal is the largest city in the province of Quebec by population, and the 2nd largest in Canada. French is the first language here. Folks greeted you "Bonjour!" rather than "Hello!" or "Good morning!".

    Montreal was lovely: a modern city with an old town at its heart. There were beautiful running routes along the St Lawrence River, and superb dining, including a memorable dinner at Au Pied de Cochon.

    It was also serendipitous that a total eclipse of the sun was taking place 2 days after I arrived, visible over parts of the Mexico, USA and Canada, and that Montreal was one of a handful of citiies in the world that was in the so-called "path of totality", where the effects of the eclipse would be the most dramatic.

    I had experienced a solar eclipse before, in Singapore in 2019, but that was an annular eclipse, and to be frank it was underwhelming. Would I be underwhelmed again? Read on to find out!
    Last edited by yflyer; 27 April 2024, 07:42 PM.

  • #2

    1. Introduction
    2. Changi T2 SilverKris Lounge
    3. AC20 SIN-YVR in Business Class
    4. YVR Maple Leaf Lounge (Domestic)
    5. AC306 YVR-YUL in Premium Economy
    6. DoubleTree by Hilton Montreal Downtown
    7. Montreal City Run
    8. Montreal Dining - Poutine Resto Bar, The Keg Steakhouse etc.
    9. Hotel Nelligan
    10. Total Eclipse of the Sun (Montreal, 8 April 2024)
    11. Hampton Inn by Hilton Montreal Downtown
    12. Montreal Run - Jacques Cartier Bridge, St Helen's Island, Biosphere etc.
    13. Montreal Dining - Au Pied de Cochon
    14. YUL Maple Leaf Lounge (Domestic)
    15. AC311 YUL-YVR in Premium Economy
    16. YVR Maple Leaf Lounge (International)
    17. AC19 YVR-SIN in Premium Economy
    18. Final Reflections


    AC20 SIN-VVR had a scheduled departure time of 9.10am. Mrs yflyer was kind enough to drive me to the airport in the early morning of Saturday, 6 April.

    Air Canada departs from Changi Terminal 2.

    T2's covered driveway.

    In Singapore we take covered airport driveways for granted, but not all airports have them -- as I would find out a week later when I got out of my Uber at Montreal Airport on a wet, raining evening...

    A new logo on the door signage, signalling the welcome return of Air Canada to Singapore!

    T2 has been beautifully renovated.

    No queues at check in to speak of.

    The inaugural had taken place 2 days prior, on 4 April, but I did see a freebie from the inaugural at the check-in counter, and the staff were kind enough to hold it up for me to take a few pics...

    Passport checks were now fully automated, with facial recognition cameras.

    Last edited by yflyer; 29 April 2024, 11:50 AM.


    • #3
      My first stop was the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge at Changi T2.

      This was the designated lounge for business class pax on this flight.

      This lounge had only been lightly refurbished from what it was before T2's major renovation.

      It ticked the right boxes as far as lounge facilities were concerned, but there was nothing special about it. It was also an inside-facing lounge with no windows or airside views.

      The lounge was fairly busy...

      ...but not packed to the brim. It was still possible to find seats...

      The dining area...

      The wine and liquor selection...

      The wines on offer...

      A glass of Taittinger to kick-off my trip...

      Last edited by yflyer; 3 June 2024, 12:19 PM.


      • #4
        There was a good buffet breakfast selection in the lounge, comprising both Asian and International dishes...

        Croissants, sardine puffs, onion pakoras and hara bhara kebabs...

        Minced pork congee...

        Chicken "ham" with mushrooms, and smoked garlic chicken bratwurst...

        Scrambled eggs, baked beans...

        Chwee kueh...

        Har gao and siew mai...

        Gyoza and dumplings...

        Veg Lemon Sev and Veg Dalcha...

        Multi-grain fried rice with mixed vegetables...


        • #5
          There was also yogurt...

          Fresh fruit...

          Sandwiches and muffins...


          • #6
            There was a manned noodle station...

            Quite a few possible variations here...

            Self service laksa was also available...

            I could not resist making myself a bowl...

            I gobbled it all up, and washed it down with a second glass of Taittinger before heading to the gate...


            • #7
              At the gate, Air Canada's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner registration C-FVLU, a 6 year old aircraft first delivered in March 2018.

              I wasn't sure what to think of the black "mask" around the cockpit windows, but overall I thought this was a fairly attractive paint scheme...

              Another shot of the plane, with an SQ 737 MAX 8 parked at the next gate...


              • #8
                On-time boarding...

                This was a 3-class aircraft, with Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins.

                My ticket for the trip was a PEY ticket, but I successfully bid for a paid business class upgrade, which was confirmed 2 days before my flight.

                Seats in the J cabin were laid out 1-2-1 in reverse herringbone layout, with aisle access for every seat.

                The J seat on this aircraft was a heavily customized Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seat, which is also used on Qatar's A350 and 787.

                While the seats were not enclosed, with no sliding doors for each seat, there was good privacy when seated, and I quite liked the open and airy feel of the cabin. There was a fixed privacy partition in between the middle seats.

                Last edited by yflyer; 20 April 2024, 05:04 PM.


                • #9
                  On these aircraft, the bulkhead seats had a flat storage shelf area on top, where snacks were placed later on during the flight.

                  Unlike some other aircraft where the 1st row bulkhead J seats have more legroom, on this AC aircraft the bulkhead legroom and size was identical to all the other J seats. In fact, you probably felt like you had less privacy because the cabin crew and the occasional pax would come by and place or take something from the shelf during the flight, so I would not recommend selecting these seats in preference to the other J seats in the cabin.

                  Row 8 window seat, the last row of the J cabin.

                  The middle seats in the first 2 rows of J had no overhead bins, as the area overhead was occupied by the crew rest, but in practice this was not an issue, as there was ample overhead bin storage along the sides, and also under the footrest within the seat as well.


                  • #10
                    As I boarded very early, with boarding zone 1, I had time to take a stroll through the PEY and Y cabins.

                    The PEY seats looked very wide and comfortable...

                    There were 3 rows of seats, laid out 2-3-2. I thought the 2-3-2 PEY layout on the AC 787 was better than SQ's PEY on the A350, which was laid out 2-4-2.

                    I would get to try PEY on my return AC19 YVR-SIN flight in a week's time.


                    • #11
                      The economy cabin was laid out 3-3-3.

                      The bulkhead seats...

                      I sat in the Y seat for a few moments. It seemed about the same as other 9-abreast 787's, which is to say acceptable but not great.

                      I wish more airlines would follow JAL's example and configure their 787 Y cabin in 8-abreast 2-4-2, which is as good as it gets in Y.


                      • #12
                        After that brief tour of the plane, I headed back to my seat, 2D, in business class.

                        First impressions: Very comfortable. Spacious and well thought out.

                        The footwell was not particularly wide, but it was very long and high, so it did not feel cramped.

                        Movable armest...

                        ...which could be lowered for more space when lying flat.


                        • #13
                          Noise cancelling headphones...

                          Slippers, amenity kit and bottle of water...

                          The amenity kit was a very attractive leather pouch from Acqua di Parma which simply exuded style and quality.

                          The contents of the amenity kit...

                          The kit also contained a spectacle / screen cleaning cloth -- how useful!

                          Opening a cover by the seat revealed more storage space, as well as the IFE controller (Not really needed, as it was a touch screen) as well as A/C and USB power.

                          Adjustable reading light...

                          Simple seat control buttons -- one to lie flat, and one to go upright, along with a touch screen to access additional features. Very simple to use, and they were positioned such that I didn't accidentally touch them at any point during the flight.

                          Some of the functions on the touchscreen included the DnD button, and its inverse, the "Wake Me for Meals" button!

                          Additional seat adjustments...

                          Even a gentle massage function...

                          You could adjust the firmness/softness of the seat, although the actual effect was quite subtle...

                          Last edited by yflyer; 20 April 2024, 05:44 PM.


                          • #14
                            Large flatscreen / touch screen display. Note the tray table under the screen. I thought the design of the tray table was quite good.

                            In fully stowed position (Above), it still protruded outwards, which meant it could be used as a shelf for drinks.

                            You could push it forward...

                            ...and unfold it to become a firm and stable dining or work table.

                            There were individual air vents overhead (Who in SQ decided to omit these from all their planes?).

                            Last edited by yflyer; 20 April 2024, 03:41 PM.


                            • #15
                              The IFE platform itself was very comprehensive and easy to use.

                              There was information about onboard services, including the catering.

                              The movie and TV selection was impressively large.

                              There was no shortage of new and older releases to watch.

                              There was a James Bond collection!

                              Something for everyone, really.

                              I did not notice live TV on this flight (Although AC's domestic Canada services did feature it).

                              The 3D map display. Flight time to Vancouver today was a fairly short 13 and a half hours.