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Air Canada Review: Sydney to Toronto (via Vancouver)

What it’s really like flying on Air Canada’s longest non-stop flight… in economy.

I won’t lie, I’m one of those people who usually chooses the airline based on price – and price alone. And when I needed to get home to Toronto, Canada on specific dates for a family wedding, Air Canada’s ticket rang in with the cheapest fare.

Having flown between Sydney and Toronto a few times, I was curious to see how Air Canada stacked up against the other airlines I’ve taken in the past: Korean Air and American Airlines.

Here’s how it went.

Flight details:

Flight Number(s): AC34
Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-200LR
Route: Sydney to Toronto (via Vancouver)
Duration: 20 hours 8 minutes
Class: Economy
Dates Travelled: 28 October, 2017
Frequent Flyer Program: Aeroplan and Star Alliance

Alex's Air Canada rating:

★★★☆☆

  • Price
  • Speed
  • Food
  • Rewards

What did I like?

  • Price: Air Canada’s ticket from Sydney to Toronto was the cheapest in the market, coming in around $1,200. Considering I had zero flexibility with my dates (I was travelling for a wedding) and wanted to fly over weekends, this was a great price to pay. Even less-favourable airlines with long stopovers were coming in at higher prices.
  • One of the quickest options: Beaten in flight length only fractionally by flights via Los Angeles, Air Canada’s flight to Toronto via Vancouver is one of the quickest ways to get from city to city. It’s actually a single flight number (AC34, or AC33 if travelling in reverse) and passengers are in the same seat the entire journey (with a chance to stretch out during the Vancouver stopover to go through immigration).
  • Stopover destination: It may have just been lucky timing, but Vancouver International is a very quiet airport and the line at customs was minimal. I’ve previously gone through LAX where the lines were longer, your bags needed to be collected and checked in again and terminal changes were a bit unclear.
  • Immigration process: Since my final destination was within Canada, I only needed to go through customs once. When flying via LAX, I needed to go through US customs, and then Canadian customs on arrival in Toronto. When flying with Korean Air, there was a required overnight stopover, meaning I needed to go through Korean customs and then Canadian customs at my final destination.

What didn’t I like?

  • Food. Now, I know airplane food isn’t the most delightful in the world, but I found Air Canada’s options ranked particularly low. On the domestic sectors, I was supposed to get a meal (as Air Canada’s policy is domestic sectors of international long-haul flights get the same benefits as the international sector), but they claimed I “wasn’t on the list”. After a few back-and-forths, they did offer me a choice of select menu items. I could see this as an issue for others who didn’t do their research, as they could easily end up forking out extra money for food on the five-hour domestic sector from Vancouver to Toronto.
  • Rewards. As a Star Alliance member, Air Canada allows passengers to collect Aeroplan points. However, living in Australia with the majority of my flights being with domestic carriers, this isn’t much of an advantage to me since Aeroplan points can’t be used with Australian-based airlines.

Would I use Air Canada again?

Yes, if the price was right.

I wouldn’t pay extra to fly with Air Canada if other options with similar transit times were available, but if it were an affordable option, I would definitely fly with it again.

Air Canada flight sales and deals:

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Available on select dates in July and August 2019 from Sydney when flying with Air Canada.

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Alex Keshen

Alex takes care of the travel section here at finder.com.au. If there's a new sale on tours or cruises, discounted flights or hotels, or anything else that can be on offer, she'll fill you in.

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