During my recent experience flying the friendly skies, I was “lucky” enough to be on Air Canada. If you haven’t ever flown Air Canada, you aren’t really missing much. Prior to this experience, I’d flown Air Canada once to Vancouver, but that was some years ago before the advent of personal video screens and deluxe economy.
Since Air Canada was the cheapest way to get to London, I decided it was time to try the airline again. I can’t say they’re the worst airline I’ve ever flown, but they’re certainly not the best.
My trip didn’t get off to a good start—we got stuck on the runway for an extra hour in Boston. Connecting via Montreal, I encountered some pretty rude Quebec officials at the airport. None of these things are really the fault of Air Canada, but they set the tone for the whole journey.
When I boarded the plane, I asked a flight attendant what the meal was. She screamed that she didn’t know and she was busy, so she’d have to tell me later. Whoa! I figured it would be something she’d know off the top of her head. Guess not. Later in the flight, she walked past and gave me a scowl, but still didn’t know the dinner meal.
Then I was struck with the most absolute horror one can experience on a long-haul flight: no personal video monitor. That’s right! Air Canada is operating planes that don’t have personal video monitors and only play movies on a big screen that’s too far away for you to see. Luckily, it was a night flight, so I was going to sleep. But it still annoyed me.
And as for that dinner—it was some chicken dish that didn’t really taste like chicken. I never expect airline food to be good, but this was like a bad microwaveable meal.
The flight home wasn’t any better. The airplane again had no personal video monitors, they only played two movies on an eight-hour flight (and they cut the last one 30 minutes short!), and the mystery chicken was back, except this time with mystery rice pilaf. The stewardesses, though, were slightly friendlier than on the previous flight.
To me though, the deal breaker is the lack of video monitors. If I can’t choose between movies and TV on my flight, I’d rather not fly, especially on those long-haul flights, and especially if the movies they do play are cut short.
It’s now expected that long-haul overseas flights will have personal video monitors. The lack of them is the big reason I wouldn’t fly Air Canada again. A stewardess did say they were upgrading a lot of their planes and by midsummer, most airplanes would have the personal monitors.
It makes me wonder, though, about the rationale of the Air Canada execs. I don’t totally dislike Air Canada, but I won’t consider them when flying overseas. There are too many other, better options out there.
Next time, I’ll probably fly Virgin. I’ve heard good things about them.