A few months ago, a really good friend of mine moved to British Columbia with his wife after she received a promotion at work. It was the second time a close friend of mine moved to BC in the last 18 months. They have been taunting me with the ‘warm weather and mountains’ of BC, and invited my wife and I come out to experience it. Being a prairie-dwelling flatlander in one of the coldest cities in the world (in the winter), I was tempted. The timing of seeing the Winnipeg Jets in Vancouver for a game against the Canucks was what convinced us to go west!
After making arrangements with my friends, things were set for my wife and I to fly to Abbotsford (YXX), spend a couple of days in/around Vancouver, and then head over to Victoria (YYJ) for a couple of days. I would return to Winnipeg (YWG) from Victoria (YYJ).
We flew on WestJet, as they are the only airline to fly into Abbotsford from Winnipeg. I didn’t realize it, but these flights were going to be my first on a 737-700. All of my previous WestJet flights have been on 737-600s or 737-200s. Also, this was going to be my first trip to British Columbia. I’ve been fortunate enough to set foot in every other province in Canada at least once. Now, I can focus on the territories!
Check-In: The check in on westjet.com was seamless, and I saw that the plane was only 60% full. I know that the online check in is not an accurate representation of the load factors, but I was hoping that my wife and I could have 3 seats to us for the whole trip. I selected a window seat for me and middle seat for my wife for both legs (YWG-YYC, YYC-YXX.) With boarding passes printed, we were good to go!
Winnipeg (YWG) to Calgary (YYC)
March 7, 2011
Estimated Load factor: 70%
ETD: 20:15 CDT ATD: 20:31 CDT
ETA: 21:05 MDT ATA: 21:22 MDT
Depart Gate: YWG - 7
Arrival Gate: YYC - D42
We left for the airport about 18:15.
Driving to airport
We arrived at the airport around 18:45. We said our goodbyes to my dad, and proceeded to drop off our bags (yay 1 complimentary luggage bag!) The terminal was absolutely dead. A WestJet employee helped us print off and attach our luggage tags. We dropped them on the conveyor belt and proceeded to security.
If there is one gripe I have about the new terminal, it is the lack of amenities BEFORE security. As I was flying this time, I knew I'd have choices once I went through security. For the many times I've been at the airport picking someone up, I loathed to get to the terminal too early. Oh, how I miss the Observation lounge and Virgin Store!
Back to the report… We went through the security with no lines. After Security we saw the Queen's Court, and common area with couches and a cool looking piece of art.
Seeing as we hadn't had supper, we popped into TGI Fridays for a quick bite (delicious!) while I loaded the Hunger Games on to my wife's Galaxy Tab for inflight reading (YAY Free Airport Wifi!)
I was amazed how the new terminal looks SOO light and airy at night when it is dark outside. With all of the floor to ceiling windows, I was worried that the terminal would have been really dark.
Shots of the new YWG terminal at night
At about 7:30, we paid our bill and proceeded to the gate. Gate 7 wasn't too far down the terminal. We met up with a friend from my work who was going to Victoria to deal with a family emergency, and found out he was on the same flight as us!
Our plane after arriving…
We talked until we boarded the plane, and he took his seat at the front of the plane. We kept going to the back of the plane to get to our seats.
The seat pitch was decent. Not too shabby (32''), with a seat back TV.
The ever-popular Seat Pitch Picture (go Jets go!)
I find the LiveTV screens a little small and the resolution is really poor. My wife's headphone jack didn't work for her LiveTV, which was a disappointment. Boarding was done, and the aisle seat was still open…yay! We re-arranged ourselves to allow some the empty seat between us and settled in for out two hour flight to Calgary.
Departure was delayed a few minutes because the load didn't match the manifest. Confusion ensued. The Flight Attendants had to recount the airplane 6 times to find out why they were off. In the end, someone had paid for an infant's seat, but chose to hold the child. Confusion subsided. The doors were closed, and we pushed back.
Looking out of the window
We taxied out to Runway 31 and barrelled down the runway.
Take-off from Winnipeg (YWG)
The cabin lights were left off, and the flight continued to Calgary without so much as a bump. The Flight attendants provided drinks (Diet Coke) and snacks (a cookie), but kept to the galley when they weren’t doing the snack service.
Dimmed Cabin lights.
I left the TV on the map, and tried to get some sleep…
The moving map on WestJet really annoys me. It rotates the map, which is static with 3-4 ads in a slideshow. It also changes the map from provincial to national views. If you are flying over a city and the moving map shows you a map of Canada with the airplane on it, forget about trying to figure out where you are. I wish the map was a true moving map without those really annoying ads and jokes displayed (You know, the jokes that weren’t funny the first time and certainly not after the 100th time of seeing them.)
The plane started to descent at 20:48, and we touched down at 21:13 on runway 28. It was a bit of a taxi back to the terminal, but nothing compared to taxiing at O’Hare! We were off the plane at 21:22. Now, we waited for out 22:35 flight to Abbotsford (YXX).
I thought the D concourse looked pretty dark in comparison to the terminal in Winnipeg. The pictures definitely reflect that, as my iPhone struggled in the lower light.
D Concourse in YYC
Arrival and Departures Boards
Wall mural depicting the history of the airport
Calgary (YYC) - Abbotsford (YXX)
March 7, 2011
Estimated Load factor: 70%
ETD: 22:35 PDT ATD: 22:53 CDT
ETA: 22:43 PDT ATA: 22:58 MDT
Depart Gate: YYC - D48
Arrival Gate: YXX - 2
The flight was about 15 minutes late arriving from Saskatoon (YXE), and that delayed our flight. We lined up to board the plane at Gate D48 (after recharging the iPod at the business station right near the gate.)
The lineup was pretty big from the loading, but once on board, my wife and I had another empty seat in between us (score!). The plane was only about 70% full.
Line up to board the flight
We pushed back and taxied out to runway 28. After waiting for another plane to land, the 737 positioned itself on the runway and took-off.
Pushback and taxi at Calgary(YYC) Airport
The short 1+ hour flight was quick, but bouncy. The Rockies were slightly illuminated by the moon, so everything looked really cool in a pale grey glow. It was too dark for my iPhone to pick up any of the mountains detail, but I was able to snap a shot of Kelowna(YLW) as we flew over it.
My broken LiveTV trying to show me the moving map
Kelowna at night
Pretty soon we started descending into Abbotsford. It was really cool to see the mountains as we landed, because you couldn't really see them. All you could see were the town lights, and then this rather large black obstruction blocking them. It felt like the plane was flying in between the mountains as we descended. Judging by the flight path on flightaware.com, that is exactly what happened.
Landing at Abbotsford Airport(YXX)
We landed on runway 01, which made for a very quick taxi to the terminal. The terminal only has 1 jet bridge, so it was easy to figure out where we're going.
We got off the plane, which was about 15 minutes late arriving, exhausted. Our bodies felt like it was almost 1:00AM even though the local time was 11:00pm. Couple that with a full day of work for both of us before the flights, and we were ready for bed!
Our friends met us and took us back to their place. We had a wonderful weekend in Vancouver and Victoria! I'll include pictures of some of the sights (and Winnipeg Jets/Vancouver Canucks NHL game) in Part 2 of this report.
I would like to apologize for the rather low quality of videos, as my iPod does not film well in low light. The return trip (which happened on Sunday morning) has MUCH better videos!
I hope you enjoyed reading my report! I appreciate any feedback you have.
Go Jets Go!