To culminate my long, wonderful journey to China, I flew home on Air Canada PEK-YVR-SFO. This was part of an open-jaw itinerary that included my outbound flight to Hong Kong. While the outbound upgrade was confirmable at booking time, I definitely had to sweat it out for the return home. Part of the reason for this is that the YVR-HKG flight uses the larger 777, while the PEK-YVR flight uses the 767, which has significantly less Executive Class suites. My flight was on Easter Sunday, and I checked aircandada.com and expertflyer.com multiple times every day to see whether my upgrade would clear or not. And then finally it happened – my upgrade cleared while I was at breakfast on Saturday morning before my departure, about 30 hours before departure time. NICE! I selected seat 1A, which offers quite a bit of privacy. The configuration on the 767s in Executive Class is 1-1-1, and the seats on the left of the plane face the back of the seats in the middle, so you can feel pretty isolated, which I prefer.
On the day of departure, I left the Marriott for PEK Capital Airport in the morning, and apparently that was too soon. The Air Canada ticket counters had not yet opened up so I grabbed an ice cream cone and waited around the airport for a bit. Finally I checked in, and I made my way over to the Air China lounge. I relaxed there for a couple hours, eating some pretty good food, and then I went to board the flight. I was careful not to fill up at the lounge as I knew I had some tasty dinner awaiting me once I boarded!
Once aboard, I scoped out the cabin. There is a self-serve bar that is part of the 777 cabin, and it is absent from the 767. I quickly found my seat, 1A, and sat down for a long, relaxing journey.
My seat was quite comfortable, and my “view” from the seat was definitely private.
Before takeoff, I hit the lav, and I noticed that this lavatory neither had the tile flooring nor the window that the lavatory of the 777 had. However, my primary pre-takeoff distraction was the Emirates A380 outside my window. This is the plane that has a full shower for first class passengers. Here’s a great trip report about a trip someone had on one of those. With Emirates no longer a partner of United, I’m not sure when I’ll ever get a chance to experience that!
After takeoff, I had a glass of champagne, some nuts (not warm like United’s), and I opened up the fold-out screen to watch “True Grit,” which I really loved!
Dinner was served promptly, and it began with an appetizer of prosciutto wrapped around asparagus with a salad. It was quite delicious. I had my choice of meals, but I went with the chicken and pasta. While I thought the main course was good, I didn’t think it was any better or worse than the main courses I’m used to having on domestic First class flights – nothing too exciting. After the main course, they brought out some crackers and cheese, and those were followed up by the chocolate lava cake. Airplane food, in my opinion, is usually expected to be slightly worse than its ground equivalent. Even the best airplane steak is not going to touch a steak at Ruth’s Chris. However, when it comes to Air Canada’s chocolate lava cake, I think it can really compete with the best of ’em! It’s done so perfectly, where the cake is moist and warm, and after cutting about halfway through, the hot chocolate oozes out. After this, I was FULL!
After feasting and watching a movie, I had one goal in mind: sleep. I was coming back on a Sunday, and I had to fly to Los Angeles for a meeting on Monday morning. I needed to be well rested. And perhaps this is where my true nerdy self actually shows. On international flights where I’m trying to sleep, I’ll often set up the iPhone timer when I hit the sack, that way when I wake up, I can see just how long I slept. I popped a tylenol PM, reclined my seat into bed-mode, and I was out.
Sleeping over six hours on airplane, without interruption, is no small accomplishment! I think even the flight attendants were impressed, as one of them noticed when I woke up and said, “Good morning, Sleepyhead!” As a side note, is it not the oddest thing in the world that I have been called “sleepyhead” by a flight attendant on at least three different flights!? And no… it wasn’t the same flight attendant every time!
I felt pretty refreshed when I woke up, and the name-calling flight attendant was quick to offer me some breakfast. Breakfast consisted of the usual airplane breakfast ingredients: some potatoes, an omelette, a sasuage, a croissant, and some fruit. There was also some yogurt. I was not all that hungry, but I ate most of it anyways, and at that point, we were actually pretty close to Vancouver.
Flying to/from Vancouver to Asia is actually somewhat interesting in the route that the plane flies. My logic would tell me that we would be spending the bulk of the flight over the Pacific Ocean. However, it actually turns out that a large amount of the flight time is spent over Russia and Alaska, as you can see from the in-flight map below.
I really love the Executive Class Suite that Air Canada offers. The seats are really comfy, and they offer a large amount of privacy. Now in all honesty, I actually think United’s new configuration Business Class seats are more comfortable, but they don’t offer the same amount of privacy that the Air Canada suites do.
So that’s it! I may do a summary post, but that covers every bit of my 16 day trip to China. Hopefully you enjoyed reading about it!