Following the end of my Alaskan cruise. I flew home essentially the same way I flew to Vancouver. Again, I flew on Air Canada aboard the 737 MAX 8, as it had the lowest priced business class (domestic first) fare for my desired travel times at under $300 per ticket. My flight to Vancouver was not bad, so I was looking forward to my flight back to see if it would be any different. It ended up being relatively uneventful, with a few odd aspects.

Flight Details:

Air Canada 556
Vancouver (YVR) to Los Angeles (LAX)
Class: Business
Aircraft: Boeing 737 MAX 8
Seat: 3A

A Messy Boarding Process:

Our boarding gate was 80, which was convenient as it was a short walk from the Maple Leaf Lounge which I had a nice time relaxing at. However, the gate was designed badly as it is super close to gate 81, and Air Canada exasperated the issue by making the flight at gate 81 have the same departure time (1:20 pm) as my flight. Not sure who the genius was who did the scheduling here but I had to wiggle my way around to the Group 1 boarding line and the boarding area was a clustered mess! Boarding was scheduled 35 minutes before departure but we ended up starting about 5 minutes late.

Initial Impressions:

The plane is fairly new, only having been delivered to Air Canada in 2022. Overhead bins were spacious and were able to fit my carry-on sideways.

Waiting at the seats were 2 bottles of water, single-use headphones, and a paper lunch menu. I was shocked to see that the menu was the same as my flight to Vancouver. I asked the flight attendant about it and it turns out that the appetizers and dessert were going to be the same, but we would have a new selection of entrees. This didn’t match what the website said, as we were supposed to have a completely new menu due to flying the the reverse direction. Odd catering they have here at Air Canada, but I’m glad at least the entrees would be different. There were no options for the appetizer and dessert and the offering was a Heritage Mix Salad and Carrot Cake.

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Our entree choices ended up being between a Chicken with creamy leek sauce & roasted potatoes, or a Cheese ravioli with a creamy mushroom sauce & roasted tomatoes. I ended up ordering the chicken.

The boarding door closed 15 minutes past our scheduled departure as we had a bit of a delay with the crew looking for a specific passenger a few times. We left the gate about 20 minutes past our scheduled departure time and sat for some time on the runway. We took off 40 minutes past our scheduled departure time. I found it interesting how the pilots didn’t introduce themselves, inform us about how long we would be in the air, or provide insights on our minor delay. Very odd.

There was no pre-departure beverage offered.

The Seat:

Business Class on Air Canada’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 has a boutique business class cabin that looks a lot like a domestic first cabin on US carriers. There are a total of 16 seats, which are spread across 4 rows in a 2-2 configuration. The Air Canada website states that the seat pitch is 38 inches while the seat is 21 inches wide, and the seat recline is up to 6 inches.

Air Canada Business

Business Class Seating

I had similar sentiments regarding the comfort of the seat from my outbound flight. I felt like the seat was a bit stiff and not the most comfortable. But for a 3-hour flight, I can’t complain too much. Newer slimline seats aren’t as comfortable as the older plush recliners offered in more dated business/first cabins.

Air Canada Business Class

Seat 3A

Seat Features:

In the large center armrest separating the two seats, you have buttons to control the leg rest as well as the seat recline. Then, on the armrest, there is a cubby of storage as well as the USB and power port. Additionally, there is an additional headphone jack here on top of the one located on the seatback screen. There is also a small drink tray that pops out of the center armrest. Lastly, next to the seatback screen, there is a coat hook.

a close up of a seat

Seat Controls

Takeoff Tip: On my prior flight, the helpful service director shared that the headphone jack located in the armrest is better than the one on the IFE screen since that one will disrupt you while eating as it will get into your food.

In-Flight Entertainment:

The seatback in-flight entertainment screen is quite large and crisp. Plus, the touchscreen was very responsive. There is a solid selection of movies, TV shows, music, games, and a nice flight map feature.

a screen shot of a computer

Seatback Screen

I ended up watching the movie Love Again and enjoyed my movie selection. This time, I didn’t experience any pausing issues like I did on my last flight. So that was a plus!

Nonexistent Wi-Fi:

As with my outbound flight, there was no Wi-Fi available, despite the aircraft being a new one delivered in 2022. According to Air Canada’s website as of September 2023, the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft are the only aircraft type in the fleet to not offer Wi-Fi. 

Cabin Service:

Shortly after reaching cruising altitude, a flight attendant came by with a hot towel, and then we were first served our beverage and warm nuts.

Air Canada Business

Warm Nuts

Then the rest of the meal came out on one tray. Similar to my outbound flight, some chicken pieces had an odd texture, but I did like how this dish had potatoes. I enjoyed the bread, and the basic salad was fine with a vinaigrette dressing. And, the carrot cake was decent. I do wish they would bring by a snack basket of some sort.

Air Canada Business

Chicken with creamy leek Sauce and roasted Potatoes

Between the meal service and watching my movie, it took up most of the flight. I visited the lavatory on the flight, and for a plane so new I was surprised there weren’t automatic sinks. It was sufficient but could be better.

Before I knew it, we were preparing for landing. We ended up arriving at the gate a little more than 30 minutes late.

As a farewell prize, we parked next to Alaska’s More to Love aircraft at LAX. I do miss Virgin America!

a plane parked at an airport

Alaska’s “More to Love” Livery to commemorate Virgin America

The Verdict:

Overall, my second Air Canada Business Class flight on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 got the job done. I enjoyed having the lounge access in Vancouver and appreciated the modern seatback screen on the aircraft. However, I felt like it wasn’t the most welcoming when the pilots didn’t provide any updates on the flight and delay. Plus, the food offering is quite mediocre and there is no Wi-Fi.


Have you flown in Air Canada Business Class on the new Boeing 737 MAX 8? What were your thoughts? Feel free to comment below!




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