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Air Canada review | Toronto to Sydney (via Vancouver)

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Air Canada flight taking off over Sydney

Just how comfortable is this 22-hour slog in the same seat?

Returning from a month-long trip to the US and Canada, I flew Air Canada's 22-hour haul from Toronto to Sydney with a quick pit stop to stretch the legs in Vancouver.

Considering I needed to book flights into Seattle and out of Toronto, Air Canada offered the cheapest price for the open-jaw ticket coming in at about $1,400 – around $1,000 less than airlines like Virgin Australia and Qantas were offering on the same route. Plus, Air Canada was able to shave a few hours off the trip in either direction.

Side note: I did fly the Sydney–Vancouver flight of the Canada-bound leg of this journey as well, AC34, but hopped off in Vancouver to catch a connection to Seattle. Similar aircraft and services are offered in both directions of the journey.

Air Canada details

  • Route: Toronto to Sydney (via Vancouver)
  • Duration: 22h 05m (with a 1h 37m stopover in Vancouver)
  • Flight number(s): AC33
  • Aircraft type: Boeing 777-200LR
  • Dates travelled: 10 August 2019
  • Class: Economy
  • Frequent flyer program: Aeroplan
  • Points earned: 0 (I'm not an Aeroplan member)

Alex's Air Canada review

★★★☆☆

  • Roomy seat options without paying extra
  • Departure and arrival times
  • Shortest travel time at the lower price
  • Domestic departure from Toronto
  • Poor service onboard
  • Lack of frequent flyer opportunities
  • Unpleasant odours upon arrival
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Picture not described

What did I like?

  • Seat: While I was only lucky enough to get this seat in one direction, I chose a seat towards the back of the plane where the plane narrows and the window-side aisles narrow to just two seats rather than three. This meant only one person to ask to move if I needed to get up and more room on my right (window) side. These seats have a 20-centimetre-or-so gap between the seat and the window. Although it's not ideal for leaning against the wall to sleep, the space was big enough to fit my carry-on backpack leaving all the room under the seat free for legs. In terms of comfort, the seat was average. I didn't find it particularly comfortable or uncomfortable, but also didn't feel like my lower back was sore, which sometimes happens to me on long-haul flights.
  • Departure/arrival times: Thanks to the time difference, I was able to depart Toronto in the evening on Saturday and arrive in Sydney early Monday morning. With the pit stop in Vancouver, it was about 3am in Toronto by the time the long-haul to Australia began, which was prime time to be sleepy enough to get a bit of shut-eye on the flight. Similarly, on my outbound flight from Sydney to Seattle, the time difference also worked in my favour. I was able to depart Australia at 10am and arrive in the US by 10:30am on the same day.
  • Length of flights: Compared to other options, Air Canada's flights were the quickest and had the shortest stopover times in both directions. The Sydney–Seattle flights took just 17 hours and 34 minutes and the Toronto–Sydney flights were 22 hours and 5 minutes.
  • Domestic departure from Toronto: Because the plane goes via Vancouver, AC33 is technically a domestic flight until it reaches YVR (where some passengers leave the plane and others join). This means for those of us flying internationally from Toronto, we departed as a domestic flight, meaning we only need to arrive at the airport an hour before departure. Since the flight was scheduled to depart at 8:15pm, it meant I was able to make the most of the sunny Saturday in Toronto.
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Picture not described

What didn't I like?

  • Lack of points opportunities for Australians: Air Canada doesn't codeshare with either Virgin Australia or Qantas, so I wasn't able to earn any points with these programs, which are the only two I actively earn points with.
  • Service: I found the service on these Air Canada flights, and previous ones in the past, to be sub-par. While I don't expect flight attendants to go above and beyond, I do expect relatively friendly service – it is a Canadian airline after all. On one occasion I asked if it was possible to get an extra blanket and was quite curtly told that there's a one-per-person rule (while I don't expect them to have an extra blanket available for everyone, on other airlines in the past it hasn't been a problem to get an extra one so I didn't believe I was out of line for asking – plus it was rather cold, even for an aeroplane and given the extra layers I was already wearing). They were also rather cold during meal service. I understand only a certain number of meals are brought on board, but they were firstly rather unapologetic when there was only one of the available options left over for any of the flights on my outbound journey. On another occasion, as they quite often are, the drinks were being served shortly after the meal and when the attendant asked me what I wanted I had a mouthful of food and gave the sorry-I'm-chewing-just-a-second hand gesture, she rudely asked again, and when I then apologised for chewing she, well, rudely asked me again. (I should note this is the same person who I asked for a blanket so perhaps she was having a bad day?)
  • Cleaning before deplaning: I should preface this by saying I completely understand that planes have rather quick turnarounds. Upon arrival on my flight from Sydney to Vancouver, they began cleaning the toilets while we were all still on board. I'm not sure exactly what the process is, but the entire back section of the plane smelled like a portaloo on a hot summer's day. Even the nearby attendant was covering her nose. After a 15-hour flight, it's not exactly something you want to sit through for 10–15 minutes until the back rows are able to disembark.

Would I use Air Canada again?

On this occasion, I went with Air Canada because it was the quickest and cheapest option by quite a big margin. If that's the case again in the future, I would fly with it again. However, I've also flown between Sydney and Toronto on Korean Air and American Airlines, both of which I felt were better experiences.

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