Welcome to the third and final leg of my return home to Bangkok. This Air Canada Business Class Airbus A330-300 San Francisco to Toronto review also covers the American Express Centurion Lounge in San Francisco.
It took over 26 hours to fly from Bangkok to Taipei to San Francisco to Toronto. Some people may consider this an insane itinerary, but I took advantage of my Aeroplan options which gave me one flight in economy class and two in business class. I visited three airport lounges thanks to the business class tickets and my Priority Pass membership with my American Express Platinum Card.
The journey wasn’t tiring at all as I slept well and had a lot of great food options. If you would like to read about all the flights from this birthday vacation or have any tips to share to make business class flights even better take a look at my other reviews.
When flying business class, you must think about the experience from door to door. For me this includes priority check in at the airport, access to the airport lounge(s), the seat, meals and service on the flight, the amenity kit, priority immigration, customs line and ending with priority baggage handling. You won’t necessarily get all of that as there are variations between the airlines and what’s available at airports, but you want to make your trip as memorable as possible.
Air Canada doesn’t have any Maple Leaf Lounges at San Francisco International Airport, but I had access to the United Airlines lounge. That said, I knew there was an American Express Centurion Lounge here which was what I wanted to see during my five hour layover.
I’ve read reviews about the Centurion Lounge San Francisco being regularly full and this was my experience as well. Though the flow of people in and out was frequent enough that people could still get a seat.
What I like about the design of this lounge is that there’s a variety of seating available. Sometimes you want a cozy cubicle, sometimes a sofa and other times a desk.
The coffee, tea and cookies station was well stocked. The cookies were thicker than they appear and were delicious. Just looking at this photo I can still taste them now.
Here’s the eating area with the bar and hot foods. Centurion Lounges have some of the best bars in any airport lounge. I also like that Centurion Lounges have sections separating the rest areas from eating areas.
There’s a self serve wine area with about a dozen bottles available which are a far cry from the dozens you see on the wine wall. As you’ve likely noticed, the lounge was pretty busy at this time which isn’t uncommon since there are many overnight flights.
My other experience with the American Express Centurion Lounge has been at Hong Kong International Airport where their hot foods and bar were better than any other lounge I’ve been to. The Centurion Lounge San Francisco is also of this high quality and experience. Here we have carrots and cauliflower.
Wild rice and chicken breast.
Yogurt and vegetables from the salad bar.
Coleslaw, quinoa and green salads.
Bananas, cookies and apples.
Another coffee and tea station.
The shower rooms use L’Occitane branded amenities. The staff asked what amenities I wanted and I chose the dental kit so I could brush my teeth. The shower curtain didn’t reach the floor and water went out all over the place to the point where I had to use a towel to try to stop the water flow from reaching the door. Staff clean and refresh the rooms between uses.
After a couple of hours relaxing at the lounge, I headed out towards my gate. As it was my first time at SFO, I left a bit early in case there were any security clearances to go through and also to check out the shops and restaurants.
At the time when I booked this Aeroplan award redemption the Air Canada San Francisco to Toronto flight was on a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner which many flyers say is one of the most amazing aircrafts ever built. About four weeks before the flight Air Canada changed the aircraft to an Airbus A330-300. I was disappointed at no longer flying on the Dreamliner but at least I got to keep my bulkhead seat 1A in a fully reclining lie flat pod and 1-1-1 configuration.
At the gate I saw an unusually large number of people queueing for the zone 1 priority boarding. I kind of felt like there was something I was missing and that I would be in for a surprise.
So about that surprise… It turned out that plane for an earlier Air Canada San Francisco to Toronto flight had mechanical issues and passengers were rebooked on my 11:20 pm departure flight. Air Canada brought in a different plane, still an Airbus A330-300, but which had a different business class configuration which was 2-2-2. The seat was still a fully reclining lie flat but I no longer had the privacy of a pod.
This was my first time having a bulkhead seat. Also note that this business class 2-2-2 configuration is Air Canada’s old layout on the A330-300. The tan leather seats also give it away as it doesn’t have Air Canada’s current black, grey and dark blue colour scheme and modern seats.
Waiting at my seat was a bottle of water, pillow, blanket and mattress. Flight attendants came by handing out earbuds and headphone adapters, the latter which I promptly dropped between the seats somewhere.
There was nothing special about the washrooms. It was pretty much the same as economy class as far as I could tell. That said, this plane hadn’t gone through business class refurbishment (yet), so hopefully there will be improvements in the future.
The flight from San Francisco to Toronto was five hours and overnight. Once at cruising altitude I put my seat in lie flat mode, got out the blanket and pillow and went to sleep. I awoke after two hours and spent the time on my Apple iPad until it was time for breakfast meal service.
Air Canada Signature Class Business Class provides hot towel service which was much appreciated. There were no choices for breakfast but I was very happy with what I received. Here we have assorted fruit, oatmeal, yogurt, parsley omelette, chicken sausage, cottage cheese, roasted potatoes, red pepper relish and coffee. It was delicious!
By this time we were above Southwestern Ontario and the sun was rising. Although I just spent a week in Thailand and had some amazing flights on the way back, I was happy to returning home. I wasn’t excited about the snow, but that’s what you get when you live in Canada.
This concludes the story of my birthday vacation. I flew with two airlines, had five flights, flew business class for the first time and went to five lounges. The great time I had just makes me look forward to the next time I get to travel again.