Air Canada offers the only year-round service between Australia and Canada, with flights out of both Sydney and Brisbane – making it a solid first choice for travellers with zero desire to transit at LAX. In fact, the Sydney-Vancouver flight continues (using the same aircraft) to Toronto, putting Canada's largest city just one stop away.
Premium economy passengers can each check-in two bags, each weighing up to 23kg, with a dedicated check-in lane at Sydney Airport for premium economy travellers. Don't forget to collect your frequent flyer points – either in Air Canada's Altitude scheme or the loyalty scheme of your preferred Star Alliance partner.
Unlike most airlines' premium economy class, Air Canada provides the option for travellers to pay an additional $25 for lounge access. Depending on the facilities of the lounge, and how much time you'll have at the airport, this can represent excellent value.
Of course, travellers holding Star Alliance Gold status in any Star Alliance member airline can use the relevant airport lounges free of charge.
At Sydney Airport Air Canada uses the Air New Zealand lounge, which offers freshly-prepared meals, barista-pulled coffee and a tended bar, making it a good place to relax before the start of your 13 hour journey.
Since deliveries of its new Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 aircraft began, Air Canada has spent millions adapting its larger and older Boeing 777 fleet to delivery a similar flight experience.
The premium economy seats on flights from Sydney to Vancouver are 20 inches wide, excluding the armrest.
Seated by the window and in the front row, there's ample legroom.
The seat has a generous 8 inch recline which makes for a reasonably comfortable way to get some shuteye.
With no seat in front of me, the tray table was located in the armrest to our left, which was easily able to be pulled up and into place. The other armrest houses a personal video screen, although the headphone jack is inconveniently located down at knee level and in the front of the left armrest.
Premium economy passengers are issued with the same low-grade headphones as economy class, but with a little jiggling you can use your smartphone's earbuds in the same audio jack for much better audio.
We were barely 30 minutes into the flight – which departed late in the morning – before lunch was served.
The starter is a standard green salad; options for the main course consisted of a braised chicken breast with apricot, green olives and capers, pearl couscous with herbs and grilled vegetables.
The alternative, which I chose, was a pasta dish comprised of pappardelle strips with a cherry tomato ragout, green asparagus, olives and parmesan.
A baked cheesecake dessert completed the service.
There's a mid-flight snack of a sandwich and some cookies, with breakfast before arrival into Vancouver being a choice between an omelette with chicken chipolata sausage, hash brown potatoes and sautéed spinach with onions; and pancakes, lightly brushed with lemon and served with berry compote.
Both selections come with a dish of fresh rockmelon and pineapple.
Entertainment & Service
As mentioned, our right armrest contained a 10.4 inch video screen, through which Air Canada pipes an extensive selection including many of the latest cinema releases, along with recent releases and classics. If you’re a patron of French, Asian or subcontinental Bollywood cinema, there are even a few selections from these regions.
Matt Lennon travelled as a guest of Air Canada.