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Topic: To Canada On American Eagle, YYZ And YKF Via ORD
Username: mhkansan
Posted 2012-12-18 18:22:05 and read 8794 times.

Hello all, and welcome to this, my second trip report here on Airliners.net. Last summer I brought you my last report, my first (memorable) trip overseas on an absolutely breathtaking and world-view changing trip from Kansas to Munich, Germany on US Airways. At the end of that summer, I knew I couldn't rest until I had satisfied my new addition. Fresh out of high school, I sent in my application to American Eagle in my hometown of Manhattan, Kansas. A few weeks later in mid-October, I was on my way to DFW for a medical appointment, passed, and got the job! I absolutely love it, and certainly not just for the travel benefits, but for the opportunity to work for my customers whom I've grown up with here in my hometown and watching our burgeoning air service grown and thrive.

I do a lot of travelling with AA and MQ, and since I've got the benefits and love to fly, why not exercise them? My job has allowed me to fly to more countries on more flights than in my entire life combined before I got my job. This year alone, I've taken my mom to Paris, traveled to Germany (again!), and to Chile, Argentina, and now Canada. I've visited all the cornerstone hubs and a myriad of outstations in between, racked up the Eagle Embraer series to an impressive 64 flight count, with this year's YTD total flight count at 115 flights, done an inaugural flight (DCA-LAX), and just generally took great advantage of my benefits - I do think I've become addicted.

Anyway, in this report I wanted to cover two unreported-on cities, MHK and YKF, two still relatively new outstations for Eagle and two which many crews tell me are very similar in dynamic. I had picked up an awful lot of hours in the two weeks before my trip, and I was sure ready for a longer, multi-night vacation and somewhere out of the USA! Canada sounded good, Montreal needs more than just two nights, Calgary (opening up a new transit line I wanted to try) was far to cold, and YVR flights were full. Besides, I've always wanted to go to Toronto!

Eagle, Fly me away!!

http://i.imgur.com/A8qSm.jpg

My routing for this trip was to be MHK-ORD-YYZ in the afternoon with an easy one hour layover in ORD, returning from YKF via ORD involving a ride on VIA Rail Canada to Kitchener and an international arrival at Chicago Terminal 5, a first for me.

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Booking/listing was made by me in native SABRE. AA has a handy nonrev travel app for your phone that lets you watch standby lists and check-in remotely. Fortunately, all the loads for the flights I intended to take looked more than good (Who goes to Canada in the wintertime??) and one of my coworkers checked me in at the counter in some down time before the flight.

Coincidentally, I was also working that afternoon at MHK. The inbound arrival from Chicago, AA 3939 was early. I went out and marshaled the plane in, hooked up GPU power, and allowed passengers off the airplane after welcoming them to the Little Apple. My lead agent allowed me to go through the checkpoint and the TSA agents, who screen passengers per flight at MHK, allowed me through the checkpoint first. I was through in about two minutes, and made the announcement allowing revenue passengers into the checkpoint. I gave my valet bag to another coworker and began making preparations for boarding the flight.

===Flight AA4257 MHK-ORD===
dep 13:25, arr 14:55

Our aircraft today is N834AE, the same ERD that was hit in the tail by the Eva Air 744F in ORD back in late May. Its my second time on this airplane, I rode it up to Chicago in February when I last logged it, pre-Eva incident of course. It was the same trip too, the midday Chicago flight, but at that time the flight number was 4258 instead of 4257, which was the inbound flight number. My roommate and coworker super80dfw also logged this bird on a DFW-MHK trip in April.

Plane Incident At Chicago - O'Hare 5/30/12 (by Jet13 May 30 2012 in Civil Aviation)

Though the tail is still unpainted, it seems to be in good working order now!

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It is actually a pretty heavy load out of MHK today, with students getting out of finals flights have been much more full than our general load factor, which is high anyway. Today there will be about 40 pax, including me. Fortunately, no one has selected seat 1A, and today it will be convenient for me to slide into it just as we close the door. I think the flight attendant thought I was kidding when I told her I was flying out with her!

A photo of me getting ready to close out the flight. I'm just waiting for the cargo weight numbers and we'll be good to go.

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And a photo from the podium of the gate area. The current MHK terminal was built in 1997, but a project to triple it's size will begin construction 2Q 2013. Its small for our operation and it simply is too small for any other airlines to begin service. UA to DEN gets floated a lot. Hopefully I'll have the pleasure to handle those flights on the ground here someday.

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Boarding was completed promptly and most passengers were on board 15 minutes prior to departure time. Everybody is on board and checked-in, and I get the O-K to close the flight. I close it out, print the paperwork, and carry it out with me to the airplane and slip into seat 1A. My backpack fits snugly into the closet, saving me from finding some bin space in the back. My coworker pulls back the stairs, the engines are started, we are out of the gate 10 minutes early. Pretty standard for MHK given the amazing and motivated crew who work the flights, regardless of early arrival!

We get waved out, and taxi to MHK's taxiway D, and instead of taking A to 21, the captain turns straight onto the runway and backtaxis down to the end 21, turns us around 360 degrees on MHK's wide 150' runway, and I feel the brakes slow us down to a halt. The crew power up our twin rolls-royce engines with the brakes still on, releases the brakes, and we rocket off into the cool, clear, and smooth Kansas winter sky.

Shortly after rotation, we turn left to avoid overflying resticted airspace over Fort Riley, and I am treated to an excellent view of Manhattan, the airport, and the surrounding area. My phone is taking forever to turn on, and I miss a photo of MHK from the air, but the Kaw valley in the dusk is still striking:

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Steven Spielberg is peeking out of the 1A bulkhead today. Legroom is okay in this seat, but I prefer 2A or 18A which have space below the seat in front of you to put your feet.



Clouds are floating over Northeast Kansas.

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Well forgive me for being sparse on pictures on this leg as shortly after takeoff I declined the flight attendant's offer for a drink and completely zonk out. I've been clocked in at work since 0430 this morning and flying is like therapeutic sleep for me. Unfortunately as Embraers get up to cruise altitude and speed, there is an incredible increase in wind noise in the front of the airplane. Not a problem in the back as the engine drone and vibration cancel most of it out and I find Embraer engines comfortably allaying. Still definitely tired enough as I wake up just as we are turning into the Lake Michigan approach to 27L at ORD.

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Shortly after I took the above picture I began noticing traffic landing at ORD from the East. As we descended I noticed the Iberia A340-600 on final to 28, from our altitude it was moving slowly, and it seemed bigger than life as it smoked the mains. I was in awe.

We flew just over Lake Shore Drive and began our left hand turn onto final for 27L and I got a sunset skyline photo. I absolutely love the fact I can leave Manhattan, "the Little Apple," and be looking at the impressive skyline just a little over an hour later.



We touched down and the crew quickly engaged the thrust reverse and the brakes thrust me forward in my seat with great force. We exited just outside the UA Terminal 1 hub, giving me a view of the LH 343 to DUS, UA 747 to FRA, and heavy 777s to Asia. We turn left again and taxi past the United Express gates on the North end of the B concourse, I spot quite a few ER4s still proudly bearing Saul Bass' 'tulip' (RIP).

Our flight is on the ground here at ORD a healthy 25 minutes ahead of schedule. Now a regular occurrence for ORD arrivals on MQ from Manhattan, we taxi over to the penalty box off the hold short area for 27L and wait for an open gate. Another company Embraer 145 pulls up next to us.

27L is primarily AA's runway this afternoon, and from 1A and with this orientation I have a great view of the touchdown zone. I watch three 738s, two 80s, and four ERJs touch down while just one UA 319 and an EV ERJ break the parade of AA. Over on 27R I watch the UA charter 744 make final preparations for landing among United Express jets.

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While we are waiting, another Embraer joins the gate-wait lineup.

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Even RP taxis by and gets put in the box adjacent to ours. Its a busy afternoon at ORD as flights around the Midwest arrive in time to feed AA's European and Asian departures. On our flight a good number of KSU students are connecting to PVG on AA and NRT on JL, and some others to LHR, on to BUD, or CDG. Domestic passengers are a small minority on this trip.

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After waiting about 15 minutes the captain announces they will have a gate for us in about five more minutes. That's fine with me, I get to watch more landings and we're plenty early, but I understand many just want to get to the gate. About three minutes later, we taxi off and around AA terminal 3 to Concourse G where we pull into G19 at the far end of the concourse.

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I liken this gate to K19 which handles the IB 346 and other widebodies over on K, G19 is just Embraer sized.

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I am the first one off the airplane with my belongings, and I make my way 3/4 the way up the bridge to wait for the valet baggage. We are there for about 6 minutes. Some passengers to Boston are worried about their connection. We're early, they're going to be fine! My valet is soon retrieved, and I go down G to the rotunda, and to my favorite bathroom at ORD on the upper level of the rotunda. Here there is a clean bathroom at the top of the "X" shaped stairway with a large accessible stall perfect for changing into some more comfortable travel clothes than my outstation, cold-weather uniform.

I put on a new shirt and sweater and nice denim pants. AA allows jeans for nonrevvers but only in good condition and without holes or rips. No t-shirts, flip-flops, sandals, or shorts among other particulars. Official uniforms are okay.

After changing, over to the window to see what I can see! Yes, my white-tailed Embraer is there at G19.

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Over at H6 is my CRJ to YYZ, as another CRJ is pushing back.

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I like the quiet rotunda, but this space would look so much cooler if it were left open-air with all these large windows and natural light. Instead the first floor of the rotunda looks old and outdated compared to the rest of the modern and bright concourse G.

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Welcome to Chicago O'Hare!

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They've decorated the main H/K hall for Christmas already and it looks great!

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Yes, my Canadian airplane is here ready to take me on my first International Eagle flight. Its a new CRJ-700 NextGen. I check in at the gate, and the agent who is here an hour before departure already working the flight, clears me immediately into 7A. Okay for now, but I check SABRE at another gate later and see 18CD is open. I'll wait and see if any revenue folks need to sit together and ask about it later.

===Flight AA3726 ORD-YYZ===
dep 16:25, arr 19:00

Today, its N528EG, my sixth ride on an Eagle CR7 and my seventh CRJ-700 overall. Its my first time on this registration.

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Meanwhile, with an hour left, I go for a walk. I spot my favorite AA mainline aircraft, the 757! Here two are getting ready to go to MIA (left) and MAN (right).

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I wander about looking for a travelex. I've seen them here before. Shoot I've been to this terminal a hundred times. Nope, not down K, not down H. Maybe near the Macaroni grill? Not today. Oh well. I'll get some Canadian dollars later. Now, I go back to the gate where the agent is checking people's passports. Soon, he's making announcements to board. An assistant gate agent has showed up who doesn't look too busy, I ask her about 18CD and she changes my seat to the back where I've got my own row. Yay!

Now, down the jet bridge where I leave my valet bag and walk through the bright cabin to the rear.

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The new CRJs are nice airplanes onboard, and in the back you can appreciate the size of the airplane. Bigger than an EMB for sure!

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Legroom here is good, however, on the ERJ the back row of seats reclines. This row, 18CD, the seats are stiff against the rear wall. Luckily I have the seat next to me empty, and I can spread out.

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Soon, we're ready to go. As soon as everybody is on board, the friendly flight attendant distributes the customs forms for Canada. They're very pretty!

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We push back into the alley, and the engines spin to life. The ground crew gives us a lurchy ride on the push back.

The flight attendant and I talk about the trip, this is her first trip as an ORD-based flight attendant after being transplanted from LAX, but she's from Toronto actually. Very friendly and talkative, and we discuss the airline and layovers and Canada as the captain taxis us to runway 4L where we're number two for takeoff. The engines roar to life and we are airbourne after a quick takeoff roll.

The FA gets up to help with the service up front, and so I look at the American Way magazine. This issue features an article about ASU, AA's newest destination in S. America. The author painted Asuncion as an overlooked jewel with friendly people and interesting sights to see, with folks treating the relatively few tourists very well, and went as far to say it is a "must-visit." Well maybe I will take his word for it and take a nice long 757 ride some day to ASU! American Way is a great magazine with good articles, but sometimes I feel it is lacking in content. Sometimes just three or four articles and the regular columns, plus ads. Not a lot to read if you fly with AA frequently, but again it is a twice monthly magazine which is more frequent than UA and US. I'm not sure about DL.

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Well the geographic accuracy isn't spectacular in the back but it is still impressive. I e-mailed the editor earlier this year to get MHK put in the correct half of Kansas. GCK is still in the wrong time zone and YKF looks a little too far South. But its getting better. The map's colors and new design do look good!

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The seats are stiff against the back wall, but they are comfortable and have winged headrests.

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My FA friend comes around and offers me a drink. I ask for a Pepsi.

"Anything to eat?" she asks

Ah, how about a cheese and cracker tray!

"Sure!"

I've been up for a long while and I forfeited food in ORD to watch the 757s.

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The tray comes with a 1oz bag of Ocean Spray Craisins, a "swiss-style cheese food" slice - basically swiss-flavored cheddar cheese which is actually quite good, s bag of three "table water crackers" that go well with the cheese, and the best part, a stick of Walker's "Pure Butter" shortbread cookie - delicious!

I have an excellent view with my dinner-snack.

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As it gets darker, I try out the PSU lights, which are very bright on the CR7R!

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I talk with the FA some more about airline news, but soon we notice the engines spool down and the captain announces our descent into the greater Toronto area. The flight attendant got up to clear the service and I took some photos of the approach.

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We approach for runway 24L, but first the crew grants me an excellent view of downtown Toronto and the lakefront. I even spot an aircraft on final for YTZ through the buildings. Its a beautiful evening with just scattered clouds here in Toronto.

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We turn left for final, and calmly and smoothly sail down to the runway. As we touch down, I see the Jet Airways A330 begin to turn on to runway 24R for takeoff. Our RJ turns off the runway and we wait for the A330 to roar above us before we cross over to the midfield area. Meanwhile, a WestJet 737 lands 24L just behind us.

Its a busy part of the evening here at YYZ. International departures are in full swing. AC 767s and 777s, a KLM 747, British Airways 777, and others are all getting ready to go up, away, and across the pond.

We taxi adjacent to runway 33R, past the midfield terminal, and turn into the Terminal 3 ramp, where we gate at a ramp-level complex seemingly designed just for AA's numerous CRJ flights to ORD, JFK, and LGA. We pulled up next to another CRJ presumably going off to NYC as according to our FA, ours was going right back to ORD and they get to stay onboard. After going back to ORD, the crew was doing the late ORD-IAH flight for the overnight there, making for a very long evening indeed at the airline.

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They have those awesome ramp-level enclosed jetbridges here. I want one very much for MHK! Also, you can find these in LAX gated to Embraers.

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I lingered a bit on board with the crew and was one of the last off the airplane, into an enclosed-yet-exterior ramp walkway. I easily find my valet bag on the cart - it is the last one from our flight. I am greeted by a friendly agent near the cart, who directs me left through a pair of double doors into the terminal, marked as "Customs/Connections/Correspondences." Yes, I am in Canada, and I am excited!!

The hallway leads me a ways at ground, but soon it is a 360 degree turn around a corner and up a set of three escalators to an upper-level walkway to customs. From here, I spy a beautiful view of my CRJ and the neighbor going to ORD.

Judging from the GSE (and the friendly agent who greets me as I deplane  ), it does appear to me American Eagle ground handling here, at least on the ramp for these CRJs.

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The upstairs corridor leads you to a central concourse, also with a nice upper-level arrivals walkway heading down the T3 finger. I muse about turning right here and snapping photos of the BA 777 and KLM 747 here at night, but alas, I can see those aircraft in ORD and DFW, and I remind myself I have relatively little time here in Canada to enjoy - I am leaving the country in only a few hours.

So I turn left, through a rotunda, right-turn, and then down. Strange? Didn't I just go up. Okay, down it is.

Down until finally I start to see familiar queues for customs just like any US port of entry. I find my line, have my passport out. It is very quiet this time of night. The connections line is just a little bit longer, but I'm talking to an agent about 4 minutes after entering the area. The woman I talk to is extremely friendly and outgoing - little did I know the American stereotype of Canadians as all-around nice and outgoing people would be proved true.

She asks me the familiar questions - why am I here and for how long. She notes my airline ID and asks me if I'm enjoying my cheap flights around the world. Indeed I am! Thank you kind customs lady.

I pass through the counter with a smile, then its into the international baggage claim area. No bags to claim, but I spy a travelex. As seems to be a trend, the friendly agent exchanges my $125 US into $110 CAD with no fee. Its a poor rate, but she gives me some coins which will help me for my $3CAD fare for the bus to the train to the streetcar to downtown.

After giving my customs form to an official, its through frosted-glass doors and into Canada.

No where to find the bus? I've researched this a lot. I mean, I'm visiting Toronto for the excellent transit - getting away from the airport shouldn't be that hard now, should it?

Out the doors - I spy a uniformed parking/taxi wrangler. Not wanting to bother him much, I wait a minute, and then ask for the "Airport Rocket" bus. The kind man looked almost too excited to answer my question, and he directed me to door B12, a good ways down the terminal. He thanked me for visiting Canada. How nice! Thank you, good sir!!

I walk down to B12, I spot an Eagle captain whose face I know from passing through MHK. I say hello. While the AA crews get to stay here at the Westin at T3, he's on his way to a hotel much farther away.

I find my way to the bus stop. An airport express bus is just pulling away, but its okay, they run every 10 minutes. Another won't be far away. Above me is the cable-driven airport transit. One of very few public "cable car" systems in operation worldwide. It makes quite a racket when it runs, and frequency doesn't seem to be that good.

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The arrivals area of T3 is very hectic even as it is a quiet part of the day for heavy arrivals.

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The "192 Airport Rocket" bus pulls up just 8 minutes later, its onboard and the way to Kipling Metro staion for me!!

Its a quick ride, partly on highways, and partly on a city street. There is just one stop between here and there, and soon its off the bus. What's really really really neat and innovative here is that when you arrive, you are already in the fare-paid zone of the station. No need to show your transfer to board the train, since the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission, the city's municipal transit operator) allows free transfers systemwide! Just step right off the bus into the presumably well-daylit concourse, down an escalator, and onto a waiting train towards the city.

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A poor photo of the above-level concourse at Kipling station.

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Its one of the older trains for me tonight to shuttle me into the city. Still clean, well-lit, and well configured for as well-patronized of a system as this.

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I take the train to Dundas West stop, where Google transit has shown me an easy connection to the streetcar to King and Spadina, where my hostel for tonight is. Awaiting me at the top of the stairs (again inside the fare-paid zone) is the 504 King Street Streetcar! Toronto is the only city outside of Europe, besides Melbourne and Hong Kong, to still maintain and use a large network of streetcars, and again another reason why I am here.

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Its a nice ride in a full tram to King and Spadina, and I am at my hostel finally! The exterior of the tram I just got off:

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My bed for tonight is $30, including a drink coupon and breakfast, at least an $8 value. So not bad at all! The hostel is relatively quite in the off season, and I have just one roommate in my eight-bed dorm, an adventerous backpacker from Manchester who has taken three months off work to visit Thailand, Australia, and N. America. Toronto is her last stop before returning to London on British Airways, and she asks me questions about her luggage allowance. Always happy to help!

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The beds are okay here, and while the guests are sparse there is good company in the hostel bar and games of pool to be had for one "loony," what the locals here call a dollar coin because of the Canadian loon on the backside.

A group of us went out both nights from the hostel, though Tuesday and Wednesday nights just aren't very popular no matter where you go! I just got a kick out of exploring the city, which I did a lot of in my limited time there. A few pictures of my excursions:

Streetcar riding at Spadina

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Building oogling!

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CN Tower picture-taking.

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Building oogling 2.0. Toronto is experiencing a huge building boom - and some are calling it "Manhattanization." I love it! Man I'd like to live in a building like this in a neighborhood this close to Union Station.

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I-spy-Air-Canada'ing.

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Ferry riding.

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Skyline-photo-taking

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Planespotting! (Porter!)

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Beachgoing. (Beautiful and cold!!)

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Train-plane-and-building spotting! (my favorite thing!)

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I did the CN Tower thing. Some photos. Its pretty neat!

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They're renovating Toronto Union Station and the new trainshed is going to be epic! I like trains & transit, if you didn't notice.

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Chinatown

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Out with some hostel friends.

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Two mornings later and after a couple drinks and good food, it is time to return! I absolutely loved my trip!


----------------------

Topic: RE: To Canada On American Eagle, YYZ And YKF Via ORD
Username: mhkansan
Posted 2012-12-18 18:22:55 and read 8794 times.

Part 2 - YKF-ORD-MHK

To get from Toronto to Kitchener, where I wanted to depart from today, I was excited to take a ride on VIA Rail. I woke up about 9:40am to make my 10:50 am train to Kitchener, and I just missed the hostel breakfast. I checked-out, bought an orange juice from a vending machine, and started out on my walk towards Toronto Union Station! The train ticket to Kitchener is about $25.

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It takes about 15 minutes to walk to the station. Could have taken the train but I enjoy the walk this morning even though I'm going to be quick on time.

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My train to Kitchener is the next VIA departure!

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The Great Hall at Union Statoin is quite an impressive space, moreso as like Washington DC, it is in heavy active use. The commuter trains use a different terminal underneath and somewhat farther North from this area for VIA departures and includes ticket counters and rental cars. Some of the pictures here are included from my excursion the day prior.

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The Royal York Hotel is just across the street.

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VIA uses similar gate boarding as does Amtrak at many places like DC and Chicago.

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Here I spotted the new trainshed under construction as I walked out to the train.

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Luggage rack and mini-galley in the car I am in. Today, just a two-car train to Kitchener!

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The train is relatively empty and there are no reserved seats. I picked this seat, but later moved to the other side of the train for better pictures.

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Wifi is onboard, and it is a very good service.

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The seats are large and comfortable, with generous recline and more legroom than many domestic First Class seats.

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Like Amtrak, a safety card is included.

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The magazine is good reading material and has the menu for the drinks and snacks on offer on the train. Like everything else from large businesses, everything is in English and French both.

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Well we're on time and departing the station now. My view of the CN tower is restricted as we pass just underneath it.

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The train runs on some rather impressive high embankments.

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We travel very slowly leaving Toronto. The entire corridor leaving the city is being rebuilt to accomodate trains to the airport from Union Station. The new right of way is huge and will handle these VIA trains, GO Transit Trains, Airport trains, and freight services. Now, however, it is just two tracks that weave from one side of the right of way to the other while the other tracks are regraded and reconstructed.

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We speed up just outside of the city and arrive in Kitchener maybe 20 minutes behind schedule.

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I have some time before I need to be at the airport for my 4:10 pm departure, so I start walking towards the tall buildings. I am very impressed by the Kitchener skyline.

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I find this nice little bakery and buy a melt. It's good, and of course, friendly people inside to chat with.

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I wander a little more before calling a local cab company to take me to the airport.

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The cab fare was more expensive than the train ticket at $35 and took about 20 minutes, and the cabbie was a very friendly guy to talk with. I'm having great luck, I haven't met an unpleasant person this whole trip. Let's not ruin this run!

I arrive at YKF! Its a beautiful regional airport!!

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The departures area and ticket counters.

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Eagle gets the most use out of this!

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Looks like the schedule to YOW is very good on Bearskin!

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The Eagle ticket counter!

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The airport has a model of an Embraer 135 up in the window. Its the only public airplane model, and I think the airport authority is very proud of their nonstops to ORD!

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I check in at the counter, the agent is unsure of what to do. "You're travelling on an E-seat today?" No... I'm nonrevving, its Y-class. "Well, here it says E." Yeah, that's for Employee... Let me show you!

I walked through some things with him. Oh, he's very excited to have an Eagle employee here. He's says he's going to need some help checking in some international infants later. Okay, I run through it with him and the other agent who works the counter.

The ground handler is a local contractor called Fliteline. They also handle Bearskin on the ramp and the counter. I can tell they're still getting used to working the Eagle flights and watching them work they're making lots of little mistakes. Six of the agents here are trained on AA SABRE. Maybe one or two are confident in it.

The load is going to be light today coming in and going out. 19 passengers plus me makes 20! Just a few left to check-in but the one-hour cutoff time is approaching and we're still missing those passengers with infants they want help with.

I take some time to take pictures of the ramp. Bearskin has two Metroliners parked here waiting to go somewhere. YOW is 5x daily but for some reason YUL didn't do very well at the 1x daily. The fares on Bearskin are very high - $900 for a one-way to Ottawa. Security guard tells me he hears they can break even with just three passengers. Wow!

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Eagle is early and touches down. The agents are still waiting for the pax with infants. They appreciate me staying and promise me I won't miss the flight. Okay!!

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Eagle turning into the gate.

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===Flight AA4283 YKF-ORD===
dep 16:10, arr 16:55

Aircraft today is N813AE, an Embraer 140. It's my first time on the bird, but again my roommate super80dfw logged it in May while commuting to DFW via ORD. I've been given seat 7C on it, but I think I'm going to slide in the back, my favorite seats in the Embraer.

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Bearskin departing behind the Embraer.

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Well the pax show up with the infants. They have lots of bags and its after their cutoff but the agent okays them to check-in. Excellent, well, I'll see them at the gate, I've got to go through CATSA!

Its just like the TSA. Even had to take off my shoes... Agents are friendly though - imagine that!

In the gate area, another banner flies the news of the new service!

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There's a very nice cafe with a good offering here, also.

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Overview of the post-security zone. The agents are getting ready to board the airplane.

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I wait until the rest of the flight is boarded, and then board myself!

On the ramp - just like MHK!

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Looking back on the gate area as I walk out to the Embraer.

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I do like their bag cart in use today.

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Jet ramp in use today is just like the one at MHK, GCK, and I'm sure a great many other stations. (MHK is getting jetbridges 4Q 2013!)

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Getting ready to say goodbye to YKF!

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I find a seat in the back of the Embraer, the plane is completely empty in the back. I have row 15 to myself, and I snap a few photos of the ramp before the door is closed. Today, just two minutes prior to departure. Eep!

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Just loading the final bags now.

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The ground crew closes the door, I wave goodbye to the agent, and we taxi off the busy ramp. We're the largest thing here until WestJet lands!

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We taxi out to runway 25, passing this new municipal airport maintenance facility, and hold short for a bunch of general aviation traffic. It seems YKF is a popular place to learn to fly.

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The hill at this end of Runway 25 literally forms a slope. Glide slope. Haha!

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We wait on two G.A. flights to touch n' go, and then it's our turn.

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The crew throw up the throttles and its a powerful takeoff for our light flight, my first International flight on the EMB series! I'm getting a great view of the Kitchener area out the window after takeoff. I spot the rail depot and downtown, where I had lunch just an hour or two ago.

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Kitchener/Waterloo area and a Rolls Royce.

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The sun was absolutely beautiful on departure.

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Not instagram, but it could be. It needs more filters, I think.

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Downtown YKF, which again, has a very impressive skyline for a city of it's size.

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Soon, we reached our cruising altitude. Its about an hour flight to ORD, and the flight attendant has started the service. She offers me another snack tray, which I graciously accept. Also, I continue the trend of drinking a ginger ale on this trip, actually my in-flight beverage of choice like I know a great many of other a.netters.

The FA is just getting off the long overnight at YKF. They arrive on the overnight and leave on the 4:10 departure, which makes for a long time in a hotel that has very little to do nearby, which is too bad considering how much fun I had on my two short nights in downtown YYZ. After arriving in ORD and clearing customs, she has to go back to terminal 3 and work yet another YKF overnight, and no, she is not very thrilled about. MHK gets a bad rap among flight attendants for the.. sub par overnight hotel the crews stay at, but unlike YKF, the ORD crews are never there for very long so they don't have much to complain about. I would hate being in a foreign country with time to kill but nowhere interesting to go!! (Especially when there are YYZ overnights to work!)

I have a nice time chatting with the FA, who after doing a quick service settles down in 18A to chat with me.

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Soon, we are descending over Lake Michigan. Its been about an hour flight.

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Touchdown is on Runway 22R, turning left off the runway near Terminal 1 yet again. LH 340 to DUS there again, and a 777 of UA's ready to go somewhere fun I'm sure.

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We're headed over to Terminal 5, its Eagle's only arrival into the terminal.

Passing T3, AA land!

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We're way at the end of T5. The door says M18 but we enter through the door marked M19, walking on the ramp. Its my first time on the ramp at ORD.

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I'm curious about something. Obviously Eagle does all their own ground handling here, at the counter and on the ramp, but the belt loader here says "Servisair" and the rampers are waiting for a few minutes while a driver with an MQ tug and bag cart arrives from T3.

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There it is.

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UA is next door with a 777 arrival. I'm pleased most of the international arrivals have already arrived!

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While I'm waiting for the rest of the folks to deplane, I snap some photos of the rear closet space and door, special to the smaller Embraers.

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And its on to the ramp at ORD to get to the terminal! No jetbridge can meet our RJ tonight!

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I'm directed in this general direction. Alright!

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Looking back on my International Embraer!

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Through a series of doors and I'm into this rather long hallway to immigrations.

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Then down some escalators and around a corner and another long hallway. Well I'll get there eventually! I like the atrium affect they were able to pull of even sub-grade like we are here.

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Customs again: super easy. No line, I get processed in about five minutes. No pictures of course because I don't want to get caught - and tonight I'd like to avoid any special screening.

Up three sets of escalators, then down, to the inter-terminal train to T3. The train is rather full. Over at T3, I see the flight to MHK is at G-8. I love that gate, because if you say it phonectically, it is gate G-eight. or Geight. gate. I love it!

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Lines at TSA are very long and I am not travelling with much. I print my boarding pass from an open kiosk, tidy everything metal into my pockets, and slip through the employee line with my MQ badge. Takes me about two minutes through the line which only some Prospect employees are utilizing tonight.

I check the priority list for my next flight, Eagle flight 4101, and see one of my good flight attendant friends is also standing by! I give him a call and I meet him over in G for dinner. We decide to sit together in the back, its 18BC for me and 18A for him and we're joined later by the FA, also very friendly and in a great mood even though she's going to MHK tonight, a like 9 hour overnight which just isn't very fun.

===Flight AA4101 ORD-MHK===
dep 19:00, arr 20:55 - and I have no idea why because this flight is seriously like one hour and twenty minutes in the air. We're going to be way early today!

N649PP, an Embraer 145 is at the gate tonight, and its going to take the 42 of us to Manhattan tonight. Its relatively full, but seats 17ABC remain empty. I have no idea why more people haven't discovered the gem that is the back of the Embraers, where you get to get a row of two seats to yourself and don't have to put up with wind noise!

I've flown on this one just once before, almost one month before, on a MHK-DFW flight on my way down to some TDY work in ELP.

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View from the back!

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Its off the ground in quick time, and we arrive way early into MHK. I grab my checked bag, say hello to my MHK teammates, say goodbye to my FA friend who is in town for the whole week, and drive home. I've got my checked bag off the claim and I'm in my car on my way home about 8:35 pm, fifteen minutes after touchdown and a very healthy
20 minutes before our scheduled arrival time into MHK!

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Bye!!

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===============================================

I had an absolutely amazing time in Canada, and some of the people I met in the hostel are staying there until next Spring. I think I'm going to try and go back up soon and say hello. I loved Toronto - the city, the people, and the transit. I think I'd like to see it on a weekend during the peak holiday season and meet some other really cool friendly people.

And yeah, our stereotypes are right about Canadians - they really are really cool, outgoing, and nice people. At least that's my experience of it.

I think I could live there. I wonder if Eagle YYZ is hiring?

Thanks for reading through all this. Truth is, I really just hope you enjoyed my pictures and maybe make a trip through YKF or MHK some time. They're two very neat little airports!

Topic: RE: To Canada On American Eagle, YYZ And YKF Via ORD
Username: yyz717
Posted 2012-12-18 19:34:30 and read 8613 times.

Nice trip report! Glad you went over to see Toronto Island -- most tourists don't. Great "overhead" photo of YTZ. As well as the Porter Q400's, you can see some Dash 7's parked in the lower right of the picture. These are owned by Trans Capital and used for occasional ad hoc charters. Dash 7 movements are rare but the pictured aircraft are all airworthy, or so I'm told.

I hope the usual loads on YKF-ORD are stronger. I'd hate to see AA pull that route.

Topic: RE: To Canada On American Eagle, YYZ And YKF Via ORD
Username: 767747
Posted 2012-12-18 19:55:07 and read 8582 times.

Good report!

Looks like you had a fun trip with Eagle. How fun to have a few days off for a fun adventure like this. I haven't been to Toronto in a long time, but would love to go again soon.

I've sat in 1A on the ERJ-135 a few times; what a great seat, I definitely try to get lucky enough to sit there each time I fly on one!

Thanks for sharing!

Best,

Matthew

Topic: RE: To Canada On American Eagle, YYZ And YKF Via ORD
Username: dc9northwest
Posted 2012-12-19 01:40:35 and read 8150 times.

Hey there MHKansan!

Nice report for your trip to Canada! I'm looking at trying out the AA Eagle/Chautauqua ERJ-140 in 2013, having never flown on a 140 before. Looking at ORD-IND... although I like to try new airports, so maybe I'll even fly into MHK eventually, provided someone in my family wants to drive 2 hours to pick me up.

Curious, how many passengers does MHK see in a year?

Indeed, generally people in Canada are really friendly.

Glad you enjoyed your trip. Thanks for sharing  

Topic: RE: To Canada On American Eagle, YYZ And YKF Via ORD
Username: N62NA
Posted 2012-12-19 08:44:07 and read 7807 times.

A wonderful trip report. Your enthusiasm for your job, and for travel, really comes through!

Quoting mhkansan (Reply 1):
I have no idea why more people haven't discovered the gem that is the back of the Embraers, where you get to get a row of two seats to yourself and don't have to put up with wind noise!

Speaking as a "civilian" - when I have to fly in the coach cabin, I've tried to book the last row (I prefer it because you don't have anyone kicking your seat), but AA blocks off the last row on all their flights. 

Topic: RE: To Canada On American Eagle, YYZ And YKF Via ORD
Username: kstateinALB
Posted 2012-12-19 10:54:03 and read 7628 times.

As always, another excellent report! Great to have you talk about what an excellent airport MHK is.

Topic: RE: To Canada On American Eagle, YYZ And YKF Via ORD
Username: ghYHZ
Posted 2012-12-19 11:58:06 and read 7563 times.

Great report…..thanks for posting! I flew Eagle several times between YHZ-JFK and found the service quite convenient when connecting south. Hope that route is eventually reinstated.

And as an aside….former Eagle CEO Peter Bowler was on the Board of Governors of St. Francis Xavier University here in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and I always found it interesting to see an American Eagle advertisement promoting the JFK service on the boards of our small town hockey rink 120 miles from Halifax!

Topic: RE: To Canada On American Eagle, YYZ And YKF Via ORD
Username: mhkansan
Posted 2012-12-19 13:04:17 and read 7498 times.

Thank you all for commenting! I had a wonderful trip and I'm glad you can experience part of it.

Quoting yyz717 (Reply 2):
Nice trip report! Glad you went over to see Toronto Island -- most tourists don't.

I loved riding the little ferry over to the island. Obviously I wanted to get to Hanlan's Point but the ferry only runs on-demand there, besides I got a better view of Toronto and I got to go to the beach. I'd like to go back and spend some time there as it seems there are some extensive walking trails and parkland to explore, however the next ferry was just 30 minutes later and I had the whole rest of the city to explore!

As far as the loads go, I think they'll pick up as the service matures. People need time to discover how good the service and connections are at YKF. They've got a great partner in the airport authority who are very proud indeed of the nonstop service, and the facility is top-notch for as small of an airport as it is. AA is pricing the market higher than YYZ in most cases so hopefully they're drawing a premium crowd there. I'm very impressed with how large the Waterloo region is and I think it should easily be able to support the service once it matures.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 3):
I've sat in 1A on the ERJ-135 a few times; what a great seat, I definitely try to get lucky enough to sit there each time I fly on one!

1A is just okay. As I mentioned in the rerport, the hidden gem is the back of the Embraer. 1A and anything forward of row 9 really has too much wind noise. Being evolved from the EMB-120, the ERJ has very thin skin and especially at cruising speeds the wind noise is deafening

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 4):
Curious, how many passengers does MHK see in a year?

Indeed, generally people in Canada are really friendly.

We are supposed to top 55,000 passengers a year this year and we may get to 60k. I haven't been keeping track. MQ started service to MHK in 2009 with two daily flights to DFW. They rasied that to three, then added a Chicago flight. In April of 2011 the second ORD flight started 5x weekly and went daily when I started with Eagle in October of last year.

One of our DFW flights has gone 5x weekly in the last schedule change but the loads remain high especially over the winter travel season. I hope maybe we get a late ORD flight or another DFW flight just winter-seasonal. The reality is we shouldn't hope for much new service until a few phases of the terminal expansion project are complete.

Indeed the people are friendly. Much like Kansas, actually. Everyone I stopped to talk to was incredibly friendly and accommodating.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 4):
I'll even fly into MHK eventually, provided someone in my family wants to drive 2 hours to pick me up.

Stop by the ticket counter and ask for Brennan. I'd love to show you around! MHK doesn't have a lot to see at the airport, but the community is a vibrant and growing college town with lots to do.

Quoting N62NA (Reply 5):

A wonderful trip report. Your enthusiasm for your job, and for travel, really comes through!

Thank you! I do appreciate my job and enjoy putting in a lot of hours at the airport.

Quoting kstateinALB (Reply 6):

As always, another excellent report! Great to have you talk about what an excellent airport MHK is.

Its a nice little place, a lot like YKF, and growing. MHK is the second busiest commercial airport in Kansas, for the record!

Quoting ghYHZ (Reply 7):
Great report…..thanks for posting! I flew Eagle several times between YHZ-JFK and found the service quite convenient when connecting south. Hope that route is eventually reinstated.

I'd like to go to Halifax someday and of course I'd prefer to do it on AA. Its too bad that service didn't work out, I'm sure Mr. Bowler was most displeased when it left, as was the advertising director of the hockey rink in Antigonish!! Eagle is trying out a bunch of small markets in the Midwest with no competition, maybe if the YKF service works out, we'll see a return to smaller cities in Canada.

Topic: RE: To Canada On American Eagle, YYZ And YKF Via ORD
Username: BlueLine
Posted 2012-12-19 17:09:35 and read 7312 times.

Quoting mhkansan (Reply 1):
I'm curious about something. Obviously Eagle does all their own ground handling here, at the counter and on the ramp, but the belt loader here says "Servisair" and the rampers are waiting for a few minutes while a driver with an MQ tug and bag cart arrives from T3.

Eagle handles the T5 inbound. The Servisair belt loader is used because AA wouldn't let MQ borrow one and they were charging more than Servisair for the use of it. The bag tug came from T5 as Eagle receives their bags there that come off of international inbounds.

Topic: RE: To Canada On American Eagle, YYZ And YKF Via ORD
Username: MSS658
Posted 2012-12-25 03:07:04 and read 6359 times.

Hey there

Great trip report, thanks for sharing! It reminded me pretty much about my Canada visit back last winter. Great place to be.

Here is my review
Toronto, Niagara And A Delayed YYZ-CDG! (by MSS658 Oct 22 2012 in Trip Reports)


Greetings
Marc

Topic: RE: To Canada On American Eagle, YYZ And YKF Via ORD
Username: WestJet747
Posted 2012-12-25 13:55:26 and read 6227 times.

I never thought I would see a TR for my hometown of Kitchener! I'm glad you enjoyed your brief stay. Great trip report as a whole!

Quoting mhkansan (Thread starter):
Montreal needs more than just two nights

It also needs more than just one season; Montreal in winter and Montreal in summer are two very different cities.

Quoting mhkansan (Thread starter):
AA allows jeans for nonrevvers but only in good condition and without holes or rips. No t-shirts, flip-flops, sandals, or shorts among other particulars. Official uniforms are okay.

I never knew that there was a dress code for non-revvers! Very interesting. I like the idea.

Quoting mhkansan (Thread starter):
YKF looks a little too far South.

Indeed, it needs to be more north (more north than Hamilton) and a little more west. Ottawa is also a little off.

Quoting mhkansan (Reply 1):
The cab fare was more expensive than the train ticket at $35 and took about 20 minutes

One thing I hate about Kitchener-Waterloo is the cabs. They're obnoxiously expensive compared to other similar sized cities. I also think the cabbie took you for a bit of a ride because it should not take 20 minutes (or $35 for that matter) to get from downtown to the airport.

Quoting mhkansan (Reply 1):
I arrive at YKF! Its a beautiful regional airport!!

Agreed, especially in comparison to what it was before! It was quite the shack before the region decided to sink a few million dollars into it to attract more commercial service. It clearly worked, because before the airport revamp we only had Northwest as a tenant with service to DTW a couple times a day using their Saab 340. Since the revamp (on top of the current ones you mention) we have previously had service to Montreal and Vancouver, as well as seasonal flights down to the Caribbean on WG.

Quoting mhkansan (Reply 1):
and I think the airport authority is very proud of their nonstops to ORD!

Absolutely. It was front-page news when it was announced. I remember hearing that local businesses invested a couple hundred thousand dollars to attract the airline.

Quoting mhkansan (Reply 1):
The fares on Bearskin are very high - $900 for a one-way to Ottawa.

That's on one of the higher fare classes. You were probably told the cost of flying that day. Usually the low-end of the fares is around $250 (before taxes), which is still extremely expensive considering it's just to YOW.

Quoting N62NA (Reply 5):
A wonderful trip report. Your enthusiasm for your job, and for travel, really comes through!

  

Topic: RE: To Canada On American Eagle, YYZ And YKF Via ORD
Username: 9w748capt
Posted 2012-12-25 15:20:52 and read 6175 times.

Wow what an awesome report! It's very refreshing to see your enthusiasm for your job, for AA, and for flying and travel in general.

Quoting mhkansan (Thread starter):
Toronto is the only city outside of Europe, besides Melbourne and Hong Kong, to still maintain and use a large network of streetcars,

Hiroshima might disagree   And SFO too (as far as the tourists are concerned).

How cool that you got your job right out of high school. Would love to make it up to MHK for an OU-KSU game - maybe I'll swing by the airport if I do!

Topic: RE: To Canada On American Eagle, YYZ And YKF Via ORD
Username: mhkansan
Posted 2012-12-27 14:18:07 and read 5733 times.

Quoting WestJet747 (Reply 11):

I never thought I would see a TR for my hometown of Kitchener! I'm glad you enjoyed your brief stay. Great trip report as a whole!

Thank you very much and thanks for commenting! I had a really good little trip and I'm already searching for weekends I can pop up again. I think I'm going to try flying Air Canada, or flying AA LAX-YYZ, or getting a friend to take me up there on PD! YKF was a gem of an airport!

Quoting WestJet747 (Reply 11):
I never knew that there was a dress code for non-revvers! Very interesting. I like the idea.

It totally depends on the airline. For AA, you have to look presentable in coach, and it's business casual or better in F or J. UA, on the other hand, will let you sit in F looking like you just got off the beach. I prefer AA's policy but you have to be somewhat careful when you pack your clothes so you have the option to ride up front if you want. Personally I like dressing up to fly!

Quoting WestJet747 (Reply 11):
One thing I hate about Kitchener-Waterloo is the cabs. They're obnoxiously expensive compared to other similar sized cities. I also think the cabbie took you for a bit of a ride because it should not take 20 minutes (or $35 for that matter) to get from downtown to the airport.

I called ahead before I took my trip and they quoted me about $35. We took a direct route up Victoria Street and I had a pleasant conversation with the cabbie. I was rather displeased there was no good public transit to the airport, but alas, it's a trial of a small airport to provide means to get there without huge passenger loads to support it. Airports have odd employment hours too, so its expensive to provide a good service to them. I was fine with the cab fee, but I would have saved quite a lot of money flying home from YYZ. I did it so I could ride VIA rail and see our new setup at YKF and have no regrets!

Quoting 9w748capt (Reply 12):
Wow what an awesome report! It's very refreshing to see your enthusiasm for your job, for AA, and for flying and travel in general.

Thank you for reading it and leaving a comment! I had a lot of fun up north.

Quoting 9w748capt (Reply 12):
Hiroshima might disagree   And SFO too (as far as the tourists are concerned).

Bah. Hiroshima has a good system, but at 19km it doesn't meet my qualification for "extensive." San Francisco is a great example except they got rid of most of the request stops that underscore streetcars and branded it all light rail with the new, heavier cars. The historic cable car lines are great photo opportunities and an engineering spectacle but from a transportation aspect, they're an awful tourist trap.

Toronto has an excellent, reasonably well integrated, and well utilized civic transportation system and the downtown area is devoid of large limited access highways. Its an excellent, livable city with tons of urban growth and lots of promise. A huge bright spot in my book and I earned a lot of respect for the city while I was there.

Quoting 9w748capt (Reply 12):
How cool that you got your job right out of high school. Would love to make it up to MHK for an OU-KSU game - maybe I'll swing by the airport if I do!

Oh please do. The OU game brought an AA 757 to MHK last year and we completely maxed out the ramp with all of the private airplanes around. It was a fun time for sure! Just ask for Brennan.


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