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Review: Air Canada 787 Economy – CleanCare+ – Paris to Montreal

CDG YUL
Arrival Airport Montréal-Trudeau
Flight Carrier Air Canada
Flight Number AC871
Duration 7 h 15
Aircraft B787-9
Cabin Class Économique
To the point

Here's my review on an Air Canada Economy flight and CleanCare+ aboard a Boeing B787, during COVID-19.

Review: Air Canada 787 Economy - CleanCare+ - Paris to Montreal

Booking

As I didn’t know how long I would have to stay in France, I bought my return-flight at the last minute. In this period of COVID-19, I had no real concern about finding a flight, either in cash or points.

Surprisingly, Air France had prohibitive fares for a one-way ticket on the days I was interested in ($1,000, about the same price as a round-trip flight).

Air Canada and Air Transat offered the best prices from Paris: between $160 and $200 one-way. I finally opted for Air Canada for three reasons:

  • to review an Economy flight with CleanCare+, after doing so in a Signature Cabin two weeks earlier
  • to enjoy Internet access with in-flight Wi-Fi (something Air Transat does not have) and thus to be able to work for 7 hours
  • to earn Aeroplan points
Lg Aeroplan10x Fr

There was a TD offer at the time: 10 points per dollar on Air Canada, in addition to the points earned with the credit card

So 11.5 points per dollar for this $205 flight purchase (about 2,358 points) and 858 points for the travel. That’s 3,216 points earned by paying for my flight with my TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card.

I estimate the Aeroplan point at 1.7 cents: that’s a $55 value; almost a 27% return on my purchase. Not bad in a time of COVID-19 😉

Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport (CDG)

After a short flight from Nice to Paris on EasyJet, I am at Roissy Charles De Gaulle Airport, Terminal 2C. I’m going to terminal 2A without having to go through security again.

By the way, I observe – with a little smile on my face – the advertisements for the only credit cards available in France (with travel points), these three American Express Flying Blue Cards. We are fortunate in Canada 😉

Terminal 2A is absolutely deserted at 2 p.m., but some dining options are still open here and there.

The Airport has done the right thing by putting up stickers to enforce social distancing.

The famous Disneyland Paris store – well-loved by my daughter – is closed.

Air Canada flights take off from the satellite at the end of Terminal 2A at gates A37-39.

Some passengers are waiting for boarding at gate A38. There’s no shortage of space to sit.

Especially since the Maple Leaf lounge is, of course, closed.

Boarding

Boarding starts on time. I’ve got priority boarding with my Elite 35K status: but there are not many people on this flight anyway.

On this route, Air Canada decided to position a Boeing 787-9, more fuel-efficient than a Boeing 777-300ER (and with fewer seats: 247 seats in the economy class compared to 398 in the 777).

This is FIN 848 (see the number next to the front landing gear), registration C-FRSR, delivered in May 2017.

Premium Economy

Only one bridge is deployed, leading straight to the Premium Economy cabin. For a review of Air Canada’s Signature Cabin, please read this article.

Premium Economy has 3 rows of seats, arranged in 2-3-2.

Each row is 38 inches apart (compared to 30 to 34 inches in economy).

And each seat is 19 inches wide (compared to 17 inches in Economy).

Premium Economy Seat

Apart from the differences in size, each Premium Economy seat has a footrest and individual electrical outlets (while in economy, there are 2 sockets for 3 seats).

Also, the screen is larger: 11 inches instead of 9 inches in Economy.

Economy

Within the Boeing 787-9, seats are arranged in 3-3-3. At the front of the cabin, the preferred seats, with more legroom (but a little less seating space with tablet and screen in the armrest).

The cabin smells clean, and on each seat are arranged a blanket and a pillow.

Economy Seat

My window seat is the 23A. I easily store my Away luggage (Bigger Carry-On model) in the overhead compartment.

On this flight to Montreal, I have no one by my side. In fact, I estimate a flight at 50% capacity.

I appreciate the vast window of the Boeing 787 and the lack of a manual shutter. This has been replaced by electronic windows, with five different levels allowing more or less sunlight to pass through.

It also allows crew members to control the windows remotely to darken or illuminate the cabin evenly.

During boarding, images of the destination are shown on the screens.

It is rare that after 10 minutes of boarding, the aircraft is still not filled. A selfie with the mask at this time:

The legroom is good for a person like me (1.80 m).

In Economy, each row of three seats has two electrical outlets. First Come, First Served?

No need to travel in business class today: I have enough space to set a nice desktop!

For this weekday flight, I didn’t watch any movies. But the selection is vast, whether for movies or series! I preferred to work by logging into Wi-Fi ($$). About $25 for the entire flight (high-speed option).

CleanCare+ Kit

Shortly after take-off, flight attendants gave us the CleanCare+ kit.

Clearly, Air Canada wants to do the right thing by providing:

At the same time, a traveller’s contact form – required to enter Canada – is delivered.

Instead, you can also download the ArriveCan app and fill out the same info on your smartphone.

Meal service

An hour after take-off, on-board service begins. The crew warns us that this is a limited service. The staff is dressed in protective jackets, as well as visors.

In Economy, a lunch box is served. This is not the box developed by Jérôme Ferrer (the latter being distributed only for flights departing from North America). And it’s a shame…

This box consists of a cold meal:

  • Waldorf Salad
  • Pasta salad, zucchini, peppers
  • Madeleines

Fortunately, alcohol accompanies the meal 😉

A little walk through the restroom. Nothing to say about hygiene either. CleanCare+ products are also there. And the toilets are clearly regularly cleaned by the crew.

Parents can appreciate to change baby with a view 🙂

Montreal-Trudeau arrival

About 45 minutes before landing, a sandwich is served, accompanied by two Breton patties.

Let’s say that my last meal in flight before entering quarantine will not go down in history.

Although positioned on the aircraft wing, I managed to capture some pics of our arrival in Montreal. Everyone will recognize our Olympic Stadium.

Deplaning took place gradually, with the crew repeatedly reminding passengers not to move until it was our row’s turn.

We appreciate how Canadians respect this – when in France, it is rather the hustle and bustle, even in times of pandemic. Once in the terminal, signs remind you of the requirement to fill out the traveller’s contact information form and invite you to wash your hands.

At 5 p.m., it’s normally rush hour in Montreal-Trudeau for international arrivals. Here, the hall is deserted. I’m heading to the Nexus line on the right, for even faster control.

Failing to go to the U.S., as much as this Nexus card helps me here!

Seconds later, here I am in the baggage claim hall, also deserted. Travelling with a cabin suitcase, I head straight for the exit.

What a sadness to see this arrivals hall deserted. It is forbidden to pick up passengers in the terminal at this time.

While usually, it is a place of smiles and tears of joy. 🙁

This is a record: 5 minutes between the plane’s exit and my arrival at the taxi line.

Inside the taxi, a Plexiglas window and a driver who complies with the sanitary measures.

Conclusion

An excellent flight back from France during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I do not regret choosing to travel on Air Canada: whether in Signature-class or economy class, the sanitary measures are respected or even exceeded. It must be said that the filling rate of the cabin probably reinforces this impression.

But having experimented with other airlines such as Lufthansa and EasyJet, I must say that Air Canada seems to make it a point of honour to restore confidence to travellers, especially through its CleanCare+ initiative. And also a much nicer and more friendly staff than usual.

However, it is noted that the weak point is in terms of the meal provided on board. I hope it is a temporary measure. Before the pandemic, food in economy class was not great; now, it is close to the ground.

I would also like to take this opportunity to salute the efforts undertaken by Montreal-Trudeau during this period of COVID-19. To have passed through Vancouver, Frankfurt, Paris Orly, Nice and Paris Charles De Gaulle, I must say that the place that gave me the most confidence as a passenger is indeed Montreal-Trudeau (YUL), both at departure and arrival.

Finally, I would like to remind you that you must follow the rules when you return to Canada after an international trip. This trip dates from September 2020; I undertook a 14-day mandatory quarantine in a Montreal’s rented apartment.

Let us hope that this quarantine can be reduced to 7 days, or even completely removed, thanks to implementing a rapid testing procedure.

This is an approach that I support, and that will allow the travel industry to recover.

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