We are seeing a lot of new route announcements in Canada these days, and our own flagship, Air Canada, has started trending with new seasonal routes in Asia just in time for winter 2023.
Of course, these can be booked at airplane points, so let’s take a look at the possibilities.
Air Canada’s new Asia route
The beginning December 1, 2022, Air Canada will operate direct flights from Vancouver to Bangkok.
On Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, the flight will fly in both directions, where it will depart from Vancouver on Monday and inward from Bangkok on Tuesday.
The planned schedule is as follows:
- The AC65 from Vancouver (YVR) to Bangkok (BKK) will depart at 11:00 pm and arrive two days later at 5:55 pm
- AC66 Bangkok (BKK) to Vancouver (YVR), departs at 8:30 a.m. and arrives at 6:35 p.m.
This is an exciting new route that represents the only direct flight from North America to Thailand and is set to run seasonally from early December to mid-April.
In addition, Air Canada will resume flights from Toronto to Mumbai October 29, 2022 As a seasonal flight until March 24, 2022. It will be a daily flight on both sides, with a technical stop at London Heathrow on both sides.
The planned schedule is as follows:
- AC856 will depart Toronto (YYZ) to Mumbai (BOM) at 9:30 pm and arrive two days later at 1:25 pm
- AC855 Mumbai (BOM) to Toronto (YYZ), departs at 4:45 am and arrives at 3:55 pm
(This is an extension of Air Canada’s existing Toronto-London non-stop services, although Air Canada does not have a fifth-degree right to fly passengers between London and Mumbai exclusively.)
At the same time, Air Canada will increase capacity on all South Pacific routes from Vancouver to Auckland, Brisbane and Sydney.
Air Canada New Asia Flight Booking
AirPlan is naturally the preferred program for booking this new route due to the program’s access to every last seat on an Air Canada flight.
From Vancouver, Bangkok falls in the second distance band of 5,001–7,500 miles on Aeroplan’s North America-Pacific Awards chart.
Thus, a direct flight at the lowest dynamic level would cost 75,000 airplane points In business class.
These flights are already loaded and bookable, so we were able to get an idea of Air Canada’s dynamic pricing at launch.
Unfortunately, in business class, Vancouver-Bangkok flights do not reveal any “saver” availability at lower levels, and all bookings are currently priced at a one-way dynamic level of 248,000 points.
In economy class, prices are more reasonable 44,000 points One-way in the standard rental section and 65,000 points At Latitude, however, there is currently zero eUpgrade space across the board, so those hoping to use the “Latitude Attitude” strategy to upgrade to business class should stop.
Looking at the Mumbai flight, we will see the North America-Atlantic Zone Awards chart.
Direct flights from Toronto to Mumbai fall on the 7,501-11,000 mile chart, which will cost 85,000 points One-way in business class.
Unfortunately, there is no availability of business class on this flight at low dynamic level, as it starts at 251,700 one way. Economy class prize place begins 80,000 points One-way, although zero eUpgrade (R) space seems to be available throughout the calendar.
The lack of attractive options for booking any of the new Air Canada flights in business class at Airplane Points is undoubtedly quite disappointing, and perhaps it should prove to be a popular route reflecting Air Canada’s confidence in selling premium seats in cash.
If these predictions don’t work out, I’m hopeful that we’ll see some dynamic rewards at lower levels or that we’ll see e-upgrade availability as autumn and winter go by.
Otherwise, Aeroplan’s 45+ partners continue to offer a variety of style travel in Thailand and India, although there are a few connections along the way.
How useful are Air Canada’s new flights?
Both new flights will be operated by Air Canada’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Air Canada’s newest and best aircraft with the best iteration of their business class “Pod”.
All Air Canada Dreamliners have a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone configuration, with the window seats facing the window and the middle seats facing the center.
Single window seats are the best choice for single travelers, when couples may choose to sit in the middle seat (keep in mind that the middle divider does not come down at all, so some couples may prefer two window seats instead).
In terms of onboard service, Air Canada’s onboard catering on international flights can be a hit-or-miss, but most of the time it stays pretty good.
Comparing Air Canada to their Star Alliance partners who fly to Bangkok, Eva Air will be their main competitor and I will probably choose Eva Air for improved comfort and soft products.
In fact, Eva Air will be the choice for many Canadians on the East Coast who will be able to make one-stop connections to Eva Air from Toronto via Taipei to Bangkok, as well as one-stop connections to Air Canada via Vancouver.
But for those on the West Coast, it’s hard to miss the convenience of a direct flight to Bangkok, without the risk of missing a connection – especially since travel is growing faster than ever before and airports are becoming the norm around the world.
The same argument applies to Mumbai, though there are further caveats: Toronto-based travelers may not be inclined to this direct flight, as there will be technical stops in London anyway.
There are plenty of other one-stop options to choose from between Toronto and Mumbai, and at a more favorable reward rate, Air Canada should be firmly attached to the prize space.
Air Canada has announced a set of two new direct flights to Asia for the winter 2023 season, including a four-hour weekly Vancouver-Bangkok service and a daily Toronto-Mumbai service with stops at London Heathrow.
With a powerful onboard product in the signature class on the Boeing 787, Bangkok’s new direct flight (the only such service in North America) will make it quite a popular option for Asia-bound travelers in the winter.
From Toronto, the new flight to Mumbai will still be a convenient option in India’s largest city, despite the short stops in London. Fingers crossed that we will see more rewards and upgrade spaces on these two flights as we approach their launch date.