Flight test: Air Canada

FRIENDLY CREW: Air Canada economy class seating.
FRIENDLY CREW: Air Canada economy class seating.

A painless flight with a friendly crew and the through luggage transfer is a bonus.

THE ROUTE Toronto to Los Angeles.

THE PLANE Airbus 320-2.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME Aeroplan/Star Alliance group.

UP THE BACK OR POINTY END? Economy. For an extra C$46 (NZ$48) I've purchased a "preferred seat". It is an emergency exit aisle seat, number 17C.

TIME IN THE AIR Four hours 45 minutes. Departure is delayed by 35 minutes due to late passengers and thunderstorms around the airport. However, time is made up in flight and we arrive shortly after schedule.

THE SEAT STUFF There are 132 economy seats in 3-3 layout and 14 executive class seats in a 2-2 format. Paying extra buys about 10 centimetres more legroom but my seat does not recline as it is in front of another exit row. The emergency exit seat pitch is 88 centimetres.

BAGGAGE One checked-in bag up to 23 kilograms, two carry-on bags are allowed on board, weighing up to 10 kilograms each. On this flight, overhead storage space is hard to find

COMFORT FACTOR The exit seat's additional legroom is welcome but the fact it doesn't recline makes it hard on the back.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT Air Canada doubled its in-flight movie programming in 2012 and shows up to 63 films on routes within North America, although few are recent releases. The enRoute entertainment system operates via a small touch screen TV on the seat back in front.

It features "box sets" of popular television dramas and (mostly US) comedies to catch up on and there is a selection of 100 music albums available.

THE SERVICE Our bi-lingual French and English speaking crew are smiley and pleasant and happy to refill glasses with free soft drink.

FEEDING TIME Food and alcoholic drinks are available for purchase from the Onboard cafe menu. Options include a chicken pesto pizza or a chicken wrap for C$7 ($7.31) each.

Only four beef baguettes are loaded onto this flight and they quickly run out. A Canadian Molson beer costs C$6.50, Heineken C$7 and wines C$6.50, while pre-mixed sour apple and pomegranate martinis are available for C$7.50. Payment is by credit card only.

ONE MORE THING ... Clearing US customs at Toronto International airport makes for an easy arrival into Los Angeles.

I am also impressed that Air Canada's ground staff at my original port - Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island - are able to check my luggage all the way through Toronto and LA to Sydney, even though my last flight from LA is with Qantas.

THE VERDICT A painless flight with a friendly crew and the through luggage transfer (which arrives safely in Sydney after my final flight) is a bonus.

One quibble is the credit card only payment system for food and drink, which is annoying for small amounts like $7. I'd prefer to pay a few dollars more up-front for a full-service flight.

THE FREQUENCY Air Canada operates five daily direct flights from Toronto to Los Angeles.

Tested by Daniel Scott who flew courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission.