I recently had the opportunity to fly both Air Canada and Emirates. As some one whose work took him all over North America a few years ago I have experienced almost all of the North American airlines. I was also familiar with Etihad and Emirates, flying both regularly to UAE some time back. This time my journey gave me the opportunity to compare both Air Canada's current international experience, and Emirates' world famous hospitality first hand.
Verdict: Emirates by an overwhelming margin. It's not even close.
As soon as you walk into the Emirates A380 you feel it. It's a more refined, high end, customer service oriented experience. The colours are brighter, the atmosphere more welcoming and the attention is on your comfort. And I am talking about Economy. Air Canada's first class is not even in the same class as Emirates' first class.
Compare this interior to Air Canada's dark and gloomy design.
Air Canada's colours seemed to be picked with an eye on functionality. Which is the easiest to clean, and will hide stains the best, and so on. Emirates colours are bright and lively.
Another big difference, and perhaps the most important one, between Air Canada and Emirates is the flight crew. Emirates has a much younger group, and therefore more energetic and eager to go the extra mile. They are fit, pretty to look at and even smile at you when you ask for an extra glass of water. Air Canada has an older group of flight crew who do their job mechanically. They don't seem to take any pleasure in doing their work. Anything extra results in a grumpy frown.
And it's the little touches on Emirates that makes it a winner. As soon as the aircraft took off, one stewardess went around giving toys to all the little children on board. My son had the whole collection of the flight animals once our journey was over. Not only that, when he told them he already had one of the toys, they actually took the time to search and bring back the one missing toy that completed his collection.
Food and Entertainment
First of all, Emirates served all Halal meals. That itself makes it a winner. Second, their food is actually tasty. Air Canada serves rubber. And even their presentation of the said rubber is typical Air Canada. Functional. Mechanical. It Works So Shut Up And Eat It.
I mean they are also flying direct to Dubai, and they cannot serve a Halal meal? Or even a decent meal? Their Muslim meal is a potato.
Now let's talk movies. It's a long flight. You want to watch a lot of movies or TV shows. Air Canada has a huge section on ... wait for it ... Air Canada. Their Bollywood selection is, wait for it, TWO movies. That's it. And one of them is a Salman Khan movie so that doesn't count.
And I am not even getting into other things such as check in experience, boarding experience (a scrum on Air Canada, orderly on Emirates) and others.
Seriously Air Canada needs to up its game big time if it wants to compete on the Dubai sector. I actually don't mind paying a premium just for the better service on Emirates. And to think they are the best airlines in North America!