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Air Canada Business Class – Toronto to Chicago

In this post, we’re going to share our experience flying Air Canada Business Class on a short flight from Toronto to Chicago on an Embraer ERJ (E75S). We’ll explain what this experience was like on the ground and in the air, and why we think the upgrade to Business Class is valuable, even on such a short flight.

Booking Air Canada Business Class from Toronto to Chicago

Our booking was a bit messy so it might not be particularly useful, but here goes.

This flight was not supposed to be part of our travel plans. We had originally booked two separate summer trips about a week apart. First, we were going to go to Vancouver for an Alaska cruise. Then a week or so later, we were going to go to Chicago for a birthday party. A daycare mishap unfolded, and we decided we’d just combine the two trips into one. We filled the extra days with a visit to Toronto and a daytrip to Niagara Falls.

We cancelled our previously booked economy flight from Vancouver to New York and used that credit to book Air Canada Business Class from Vancouver to Toronto. And since we like Air Canada’s Business Class and don’t actually fly through Canada that often, we also decided to upgrade this leg to Chicago, too.

We booked this flight about a month in advance. The total cost for three passengers came to $911, or about $304 each.

Sidebar: Air Canada Business Class from Santiago to Toronto was one of my very first premium Business Class experiences. This review is painful to look back on in terms of my writing skills, but it is quite endearing to see just how excited I was about it. It remains one of my favorite flights to this day.

Toronto Airport Experience

Our flight was scheduled for 8 AM. It was an international flight, so we did want to get their early. But since the flight was so early in the morning, we also didn’t want to get there that early. We decided to target getting there 2 hours prior to our scheduled boarding time.

We hired a driver through our hotel, that way we knew our ride would be there on time. Traveling by car is also a little quicker than the train (which takes about an hour,) so we could sleep in a tad longer. We left our hotel room at 5 AM and were at the airport by 5:30 AM, just meeting our target arrival time.

The first step was customs. Went through US passport control at the Toronto airport before our flight, instead of doing at the much more crowded O’Hare upon arrival. I love that they do this.

There was a separate, expedited line for Global Entry, which we have. However, they required the physical card, which is not often necessary to utilize Global Entry at most airports stateside. We had to step aside to dig our cards out of our bag, but it was worth the trouble. After checking our Global Entry cards and passports, we breezed right through.

Our Business Class ticket also made us eligible for the expedited security queue, which we also moved through in just a few minutes.

After about 30 minutes, we were done with all our checks and were sqarely airside. From the other side of security, it was just a short walk to the lounge.

Maple Leaf Lounge at Toronto Pearson International Airport

Our Air Canada Business Class ticket was enough to get us access to the Maple Leaf Lounge. That’s not a perk that comes with premium cabins on US domestic flights, so this was a nice perk.

The Maple Leaf Lounge at the Toronto Airport was very spacious. There was a wide variety of seating, including a quite area, hightop tables facing the runway, regular tables and booths, and plush loungers and couches. Every seat and table did not have an accessible outlet, but there were a lot of outlets around so you could easily find a space by one. A small conference room and printer was also available.

A small, soundproof room labeled “Children’s Room” was located just beside the bathrooms. There were no toys or screens, so it was not a children’s play area. A generous take on this could be that it was designed as a quiet space for nursing mothers. A less generous and offensive take, which is how I perceived it, was that this was a space to keep crying children away from others.

The breakfast spread during our visit was sufficient and tasty. There was a selection of bakery items (muffins, bagels, sweet breads), hot and cold cereals, fresh fruit and some hot prepared items including pre-made egg sandwiches and quiche. Coffee, including American drip coffee and espresso-based drinks, was available at a handful of touchscreen machines. Other drinks were available including hot tea and hot cocoa and cold sodas, waters and juices.

My favorite thing about this lounge was the views. There were lots of windows that faced the runway, and the skyline was off the in the distance. It was particularly lovely at sunrise during our visit.

The lounge did appear to be quite popular, particularly on a Saturday morning. It was quiet when we arrived, but by 6:30 AM the main seating area was full and there was a long line to get in. After about 1.5 hours in the lounge, we made our way to the gate.


Our flight ended up being delayed by 40 minutes, but once boarding commenced things were pretty smooth. Business Class was the first to board after pre-boarders, and we were the second group on the plane.

We had no problem finding our seats in row 2. As you can see in the photo, the Business Class seats on this small plane were in a 2-1 configuration, compared to 2-2 in economy. This is about as perfect as it gets for our family of 3.

A bottle of water and complimentary wired headphones were placed at each seat.

Air Canada Business Class Seats on the E75S

The seats were definitely dated. Honestly though, sometimes I find the older seats more comfortable than the sleek, faux leather, new ones. I think I’ve said this before, but there’s something about the cloth upholstery and worn in padding that is comfortable in the same way that the couch in your parents’ basement is comfortable. Old doesn’t always mean bad.

The seats were a respectable 20 inches wide with a pitch of 38 inches. They reclined slightly, but did not lie flat. There were adjustable headrests and no footrests. A wide double armrest separated the pair of seats, but otherwise there was no substantial center console. (I feel like the wider center console is what makes some seats feel extra spacious.)

A standard tray table folded out from the outer armrest. I’ve made this complaint before on Air Canada, but I don’t love that the tray tables are smaller than the food trays. (Check out the food in the food & drink section.)


Because it was a smaller plane, the overhead bin space was a bit limited. Only one side of overhead bins could accommodate standard size carry-on suitcases. There was enough bin space for all of the Business Class passengers, but overhead bin space did run out in economy.

We stored our two suitcases in the larger bin, and our third carry-on (which was our Pico Portable Car Seat) went in the smaller bin. Our three personal items each fit under the seat in front of us.

Other than the seat-back pocket, there was no additional storage space at these seats.


There were seat-back screens, but they were just as dated as the seats. The screens in Business Class were the same small size as in economy. They were controlled with a touch screen, and there was no separate remote. The headphone jack was on the side of the center armrest.

Beside the seat-back screen was a USB port. Best I could tell, this was the only charging available for these seats. I did not see an AC outlet.

The entertainment selection was light and the flight was short, so I opted out of inflight entertainment this time.

Toddler had no complaints about the seat-back entertainment

Food & Drink Service

The most unexpected and impressive part of this flight was the meal service. I was shocked that there was a full breakfast served on this <90 minute flight.

As soon as we took off, the flight attendant asked if we’d like breakfast. There was only one meal option, so there was no menu provided. She took my drink order at the same time, which was the only drink service of the flight.

We departed at 8:43 and I had a food tray in front of me at 9:06. The meal included an omelet with cottage cheese and roasted red peppers, chicken sausage and potatoes. It was accompanied by yogurt, fresh fruit and a roll with jam and butter. It also came with my requested beverage, which was (of course) coffee.

We’re vegetarians, but not picky ones. I happily just pushed the sausage to the side and ate the rest of the non-meat items. The food was delicious, particularly the sauces.

I also raved about the food on our previous Air Canada Business Class flight from Vancouver.

Closing Thoughts on Air Canada Business Class from Toronto to Chicago

This review is short and sweet, just like this flight.

For Business Class upgrades, it’s always important to know what you’re paying for and what you’re going to get. For this particular flight, the value doesn’t come from the onboard experience, but from the speed and conveniences that you get on the ground.

If you are flying Business Class with Air Canada, you will have access to the expedited security queue. If you pair that with Global Entry (or NEXUS, a similar service for just Canada border crossings), you can zip through to airside pretty quickly.

Air Canada Business Class also includes lounge access! You can grab a snack or a drink, and get some work done while you wait for your flight to board. When it does, you’ll be among the first passengers onboard. Plus, you won’t have to worry about finding room in the limited overhead bin space.

When you land, you’ll be one of the first ones off the plane. Since this particular route and flight handles passport control on the Canada side, you can head straight out of the airport and get to wherever you need to get.

These are the perks you’re paying for. The comforts onboard, like the larger seat, extra legroom and a meal (!!!) is all icing on the cake.