Airline review: Air Canada Premium Economy, Vancouver to Brisbane

THE PLANE

Boeing 787-8. Air Canada has eight of this version of the Dreamliner in its fleet.

THE ROUTE

Vancouver to Brisbane.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Altitude, with points also accruing to other Star Alliance airlines' programs.

CLASS

Premium economy, seat 14D.

DURATION

Fourteen hours from Vancouver to Brisbane.

FREQUENCY

Daily.

THE SEAT

96cm (38 inches) pitch, 49cm (19.5 inches) width. There are 21 premium economy seats in a 2-3-2 layout.

BAGGAGE

The fare includes two checked bags weighing 23kg each. One carry-on bag and one additional personal item may be taken aboard.

COMFORT

In premium economy you're looking for more width and legroom than the passengers down the back are enjoying, and this seat has a good amount of both; though the supports of the seat ahead restrict where I can place my feet. The seat is reasonably firm but its angle of recline is generous, allowing me to snatch a few hours of sleep on this night-time flight (though there's still a subtle tussle between myself and the neighbouring passenger for our shared armrest). A padded adjustable headrest adds comfort.

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ENTERTAINMENT

On the seatback in front of me is a decent-sized screen, though it's a little slow to respond to touch. Only earbuds are supplied by the airline, which I find difficult to use, but luckily I've packed my own headphones. It's difficult to find recent cinema releases among the New Onboard category, which also includes older films. However, there are some good viewing choices: the intriguing emotional drama/monster film Colossal for example, and quirky post-apocalyptic TV comedy The Last Man on Earth. A category devoted to Canadian movies gives an insight into the airline's home country, including Inuit drama Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, and bittersweet Toronto romance flick Take this Waltz. A clever innovation is the My Movies menu where you can build a list of films, then click to watch. Other entertainment options include games, and a Kids Corner with age-suitable viewing, games and music.

SERVICE

The crew is brisk and efficient on this overnight flight.

FOOD

Dinner is served when we finally take off well after midnight, the delay due to a passenger's medical problem. It's a Southern-sounding choice of barbecue chicken with smoky hickory sauce, grits, grilled corn and carrots; or beef tenderloin with rutabaga, mashed potatoes, green beans, carrots and red peppers. I have the chicken, which seems a bit chewy but reasonably flavoursome. Dessert is a simple square of tiramisu. Before we land in Brisbane in the morning (where we're further delayed by another medical issue), we're served a breakfast choice of a crepe omelette Florentine, or an oatmeal pancake with apple and peach compote.

ONE MORE THING

An additional section on the entertainment menu, Travel, contains a selection of city guides, as well as tips on restaurants and hotels. It's a handy way to do some additional pre-arrival research.

THE VERDICT

Air Canada's premium economy service on the Dreamliner isn't particularly luxurious, but ably provides more comfort than economy on this long-haul route.

Rating: ★★★½

Tim Richards was hosted by Destination Canada (destinationcanada.com) and upgraded by Air Canada.

See also: How the seats on Qantas' first Dreamliner stack up

See also: Dreamliner vs Airbus A350 - which new plane is best on a long haul?

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