Review: Air Canada 737 MAX 8 economy class

For the first leg of my Air Canada miles run, I flew from Los Angeles (LAX) to Vancouver (YVR) on an Air Canada 737 MAX 8 in economy class. Although economy class is still economy class, several things impressed me about the product.

Air Canada 737 MAX 8 Economy Class Rating

Registration

Air Canada operates out of Terminal 6 at Los Angeles International Airport. Allowing plenty of time in case there was a problem with my paperwork, I showed up at the counter about two hours before departure.

There I found about five passengers waiting in the economy class line and a gentleman ahead of me in the Star Alliance Gold/business class line. He was an older man connecting from Vancouver to Delhi and had all sorts of questions for check-in agents.

I had access to the priority line because I am an Aeroplan 75K Elite member (I could have used my United Airlines Star Gold status as well). By the way, business class sold out halfway and I could have easily upgraded this flight using my e-upgrades, but chose not to so I could review the economy class product.

When it was my turn, an agent apologized for the delay and quickly checked me in after checking my ArriveCAN form, vaccine card and negative COVID-19 test.

With boarding pass in hand, I was directed to the Maple Leaf Lounge security checkpoint, which I reviewed here.


> Revision: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Los Angeles (LAX)


Boarding began only 35 minutes before departure from gate 69B.

Air Canada 557
Los Angeles (LAX)–Vancouver (YVR)
Wednesday February 23
Departure: 5:20 p.m.
Arrival: 8:19 p.m.
Duration: 02h, 59min
Distance: 1,081 miles
Plane: 737 MAX 8
Seat: 20F (economy class)

On board, a stewardess welcomes me and offers me a hygiene kit.

The plane was clean and the larger overhead compartment and Boeing skylight interior gave it a modern touch.

Seats

The 737 MAX 8 features four rows of Business Class in a 2-2 configuration (21 inches wide and 38 inches pitched) followed by 153 Economy Class seats (18 inches wide with seat pitch ranging from 30 to 34 inches).

Business class:

Economy class:

Preferred seats have up to four inches of extra legroom. They represent the first rows of economy class.

Each seat is equipped with a universal power socket and a fast-charging USB-A socket.

Economy class seats have an articulated seat so that when you recline, the seat cushion slides forward to give you the illusion of more recline. The advantage of this type of seat is that the actual recline of the seat is limited, which means that the person in front of you cannot invade your space as much.

I chose a seat in the exit row, free like a 75K elite, which gave me an immense amount of legroom. At first there was a woman sitting in the aisle seat in my row, but after the door closed she moved to her own row: the flight was only about 1/3 full.

IFE + Wi-Fi

Air Canada offers seat back IFE on all major flights and not only was the screen large, but the touch screen system was well designed and easy to navigate. A wide selection of movies was available as well as TV programs, games and music.

Also, the in-flight menu, including a full selection of drinks, snacks and meals for purchase, was displayed on screen, which makes a lot more sense to me than printing out menus.

Headphones are not provided free of charge, but can be purchased for CAN$3.50 (or CAN$9.95 for silicone noise canceling headphones in a protective travel case).

The only hiccup was the in-flight map, which didn’t work on my screen:

(I ended up using the middle seat screen)

Interestingly, wi-fi is not available on Air Canada’s 737 MAX, which seems like a huge missed opportunity. I always stayed busy without it.

Bathroom

The plane only had three lavatories; one forward for business class and two aft for economy class. The two rear toilets are very small, with barely enough room to turn around. Luckily the water didn’t splash on the mirror and the door, but that’s only because the pressure was reduced. They are what they are, but as North Americans get older, these faculties are quite poor.

Food + Drink

Flight attendants began service about 30 minutes after takeoff, with economy class passengers being offered a free drink. I appreciated that Air Canada had lemon wedges, something United had been missing for two years now.

I had originally planned to order pizza, but noticed that unspecified “meals” were available for $13.50 CAD. I asked what it was and a flight attendant called her colleague to ask if there were any business class meals left. Indeed, there was a chicken dish available. Can$13.50 for a business class meal? Yes please.

The meal was delivered covered in foil on a small tray. Unboxing it, I found chicken in a mushroom sauce with carrots, broccoli and Israeli couscous. Although it was not served with metal cutlery, plastic utensils were provided.

I found the dish very tasty and really liked the concept of being able to order a business class meal in economy class.

My meal came with a side, and I chose cashews.

Whole menu here.

CONCLUSION

We landed earlier than expected in Vancouver, with an actual flight time of two hours and twenty minutes. Looking back on my flight, I note the missing wi-fi, but I loved everything else about this flight, especially the big IFE screen and the meal to buy. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Air Canada’s 737 MAX 8 again, even if the flight was busier.

Comments are closed.