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YYZ & YUL - BA First, Club & Porter (w/pics)  
User currently offlineGenius12 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2007, 197 posts, RR: 2
Posted (2 years 2 months 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 18514 times:

Introduction

Having visited Western Canada and the magnificent Rockies several years ago, Eastern Canada had been on the cards for some time. With the advent of a World Traveller Plus (premium economy) sale and some judicious use of Avios to upgrade to Club World (business class), a visit to Canada’s Atlantic coast came off the cards and into reality.

Whilst researching transport options between the two cities we wanted to visit, Toronto and Montreal, I came across a Porter Airlines trip report and started investigating this little-known carrier a bit more. I liked their concept of a premium service for an economy price, and coupled with a decent sale, booked a one way flight from the carrier’s home base of Toronto to Montreal.

For this trip, we would be staying three nights each at the InterContinental Toronto Yorkville and at the InterContinental Montreal, and planned to do our usual thing of walking more than anything else, to soak up the atmosphere of each city and try and avoid anything too touristy.

BA First, LHR-YYZ



We arrived at Heathrow around 4 hours before departure, parking in the Long Stay car park for T5. The free transit bus took under 10 minutes to whisk us to the terminal, and before long we were checking in in the calm of the First check-in area (thanks to my Gold status). There was no queue for any of the several manned desks, and we were promptly checked in with bags priority tagged. The agent asked me whether we needed an ESTA (US visa waiver), causing me a momentary panic before I re-connected Toronto with Canada…



Fast Track security was a prompt affair, and a few minutes later we were ensconced in the Galleries First lounge (again, thanks to my Gold status).





We headed initially for the Refectory area, opting to order from the menu rather than choose something from the tempting buffet. We both opted for the Meze Plate to start, followed by the gnocchi (although without the Parmesan, as I loathe the taste).

Retiring to the main lounge area, I chose the summer pudding (with clotted cream and raspberry coulis) for dessert, followed a short while later by one of the delicious chocolate mousses from the buffet. I couldn’t fault any of the lounge catering on quality, and as usual this visit reinforced my opinion that BA’s lounge catering is pretty solid. Below is the post-12:00 menu for Galleries First for May 2012.



Light Dishes
Courgette and Crème Fraiche Soup with Crusty Bread
Feta Cheese, Marinate Artichoke, Sweet Pepper and Aubergine Salad, Secretts Farm Leaves
Hoisin Duck, Shredded Vegetables, Sesame and Nigella Panini
Meze Plate – Humus, Baba Ganoush and Guacamole with Spiced Tortilla and Raw Vegetables

Main Course
Caesar Salad made with Baby Gem Lettuce, Herb Croutons, Anchovies and Ceasar Dressing with a choice of Hot Smoked Salmon or Smoked Chicken
BA Gourmet Beef Burger, Croxton Manor Cheddar, Potato Wedges, Garden Salad
Gnocchi with Peas, Pesto, Shaved Parmesan and Rocket

Dessert
Vanilla Cheesecake, Marinated Cherries
Seasonal Fruit Salad with Berries
Summer Pudding, Clotted Cream, Raspberry Coulis
Selection of Cheese from The British Isles – Keens Cheddar, Tunworth, Innes Log, St James, Served with Fig, Quince and Apple Chutney











Whilst BA’s Galleries lounges at T5 are decorated to my taste, they are starting to show their age a little, having not had any significant work done to them since opening 4 years ago. It’s disappointing to see things like the projectors in the First lounge still not working, parts of the chillers falling off, and various lights out of action. The dripping air conditioning near the Work & Entertainment Zone did nothing to improve the image.











Shortly after a glass of the very agreeable Bollinger Rosé from the Champagne Bar, our names were paged over the PA system and we were asked to go to the customer service desk within the lounge. My heart skipped a beat as I thought we may have been lucky enough to have been upgraded, and as it turned out we had! The charming lady behind the desk recognized that we had chosen good seats next to each other on the upper deck (62AB), and had wondered whether we would like to swap those for 4K and 5K in First. Well of course, that didn’t even need thinking about! My very first operational upgrade!











Thanking the lady profusely, we nipped across to the Concorde Room for nothing more exciting, alas, than to use the washroom. This brief visit was mandated by boarding time rapidly approaching, and as such we were soon on the transit to T5B. It would’ve been nice to have had slightly longer in the CCR, but having spent a good 7 hours there last spring, I didn’t feel too disappointed (especially not having just been upgraded to First!).

A quick stop at the Galleries Club lounge in T5B, and boarding was showing as commencing on the screens. It is worth noting at this point that the T5B lounge is significantly quieter than either of the Club lounges in T5A (and even quieter than Galleries First, which on this visit had been fairly busy, as had the CCR). I had a quick look at the buffet out of interest, and was disappointed to see it half empty and rather grubby, as if it hadn’t been attended to for at least an hour. A big contrast to the First lounge’s Refectory area that is nearly always, in my experience, kept well tended.





Boarding at Gate B38 was a bit of a shambles, as despite a pre-boarding announcement for First and Club World passengers and Golds/Silvers only, there was a bit of a rugby scrum and the usual panic from the masses that they would miss their flight. I do also think that BA should pre-board First passengers before all others, and only commence other boarding once all F pax at the gate have passed through ticket presentation and passport check.

Date: May 2012
Route: LHR [London Heathrow] (T5) – YYZ [Toronto Pearson] (T3)
Aircraft: B747-436, G-BNLK (1990)
Seats: 4K, 5K (First)

Boarding was through Door 2L, with no dual airbridges at this gate. After a few minutes’ waiting behind a gaggle of families, we made it to the aircraft door and were welcomed onboard and escorted to our seats through the mini Club World cabin and into the sanctuary of the 747’s nose. As this was a 70J configuration, this aircraft was fitted with BA’s new First cabin, the same as I had flown to Hong Kong in last spring.

On the seat was a cushion, with noise-reducing headphones, slippers and a blanket on the ottoman. Shortly after sitting down, a cabin crew member offered me a washbag and sleeper suit (pajamas). These were not delivered from the silver tray as they are supposed to be, but by hand. I’m not a fan of the current Anya Hindmarch washbag provided in First, but the REN and Dr Harris amenities within are good quality and do the trick of keeping one refreshed during a long flight.



Pre-departure beverage orders were taken, and I opted for a fresh orange juice. We had quite a lengthy (hour long) delay on the ground as baggage had to be offloaded, and during this time the safety video was played and the CSD introduced himself by name to everybody in the First cabin and kept us informed of the delay.





We departed on Runway 09R and were treated to a rolling takeoff from taxi.





Shortly after takeoff, hot towels were distributed and drinks orders taken, delivered with a ramekin of warmed mixed nuts. At this time, menus and wine lists were also handed out, and meal orders taken in status order, with passengers being addressed by name. As we had been upgraded, we were asked last of the 12 other passengers in the cabin, which I have no problem with. This did mean that my travelling companion didn’t receive her choice of the grilled chicken.







Below is the lunch menu for First cabins to much of North America for May 2012.



Starters
Seared Scottish king scallop with broad bean puree and crispy porchetta
Grilled artichoke, Laverstroke Park Farm mozzarella and baby courgette salad
Pea soup with mint crème fraiche
Fresh spring salad with your choice of French dressing with golden rapeseed oil or cherry and elderflower dressing

Main
Roasted Herefordshire beef fillet with British purple asparagus, baby carrots and dauphinoise potatoes
Loch Fyne Scottish salmon, linguine with chive cream sauce and crispy soft shell crab
Poached and grilled free-range chicken with vegetable nage and Ratte potatoes
Deep-fried tofu with pesto and Asian-style noodle salad

Bistro Selection
Chicken à la king
Wagyu beef burger with Monterey Jack cheese, gherkin and onion
A selection of biscuits
A selection of cheese and fruit

Dessert
Toffee and chocolate parfait with toffee hazelnut sauce
Warm pineapple upside down pudding with hazelnut brittle and vanilla ice cream
Ice cream sundae custom made to your preference of ice cream, sauces and toppings

Cheese Plate
Rougette
Cropwell Bishop Shropshire Blue
Quickes Farmhouse Cheddar
Banon

Fresh fruit
Chocolates



And here is the wine list, which also featured a range of spirits, digestifs and liqueurs, along with soft drinks of course.



Aperitif
Kir Royale

Champagne
Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle, Champagne, France

White
Mersault Les Clous 2008, Bouchard Père et Fils, Burgandy, France
Sancerre Cuvée Prestige 2010, Domaine de la Chézatte, Loire Valley, France
Pacific Rim Wallula Vineyard Riesling 2008, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA

Red
Château Camensac 2005, 5eme Grand Cru Classé, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France
Freestone Pinot Noir 2008, Sonoma Coast, California, USA
Saint-Joseph Amphore d’Argent 2009, Northern Rhône, France

Dessert
Château de la Chartreuse 2005, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France
Warre’s 1992 Colheita Tawny Port



For some reason we did not receive the amuse bouche (not listed on the menu but offered to other passengers in the full cabin). I had wondered whether this was because we were upgraded, but First should be fully catered for 14 passengers. Furthermore, the table setting did not include the signature red water glass, nor were serviettes placed on passengers’ laps, as service standard dictates. This set the tone of the crew really, as they were most certainly not the most professional or dedicated crew I’ve encountered. They did (almost) everything that was required of them, but not in a polished way at all. There was nothing ‘first class’ about the service.

The pea soup was divine, and whilst the Herefordshire beef was a little too rare for my liking (and way too rare for my travelling companion’s liking), the dish was nicely presented and of good quality. My pineapple pudding dessert was exquisite, and I am reliably informed that the toffee parfait was equally delicious. The quality of this catering was significantly improved over my last two First flights in 2011.













After dinner I changed into PJs in the washroom (I do love the washroom with the window on the 747!) and my bed was offered to be made and trousers hung in the galley (as my personal wardrobe was fully occupied).



When in fully flat, made-up bed mode, the new First seat is very comfortable indeed. However, I do miss the option to have a leg rest when in the seated position.



I didn’t really sleep at all on this day flight, rather just relaxed whilst watching the new Mission Impossible movie (enjoyable, if a little generic), and the hilarious Tower Heist (a comedic take on the original Die Hard), both enjoyed along with the fresh fruit selection.



It’s great to be able to split-screen the AVOD in new First and view the moving map at the same time as a movie. However, it is disappointing that the HD screen cannot be taken advantage of by the ageing Rockwell Collins IFE system.





The crew’s lack of attention to detail noticed when I visited the washroom and my bed was not re-made. Additionally, once I had changed into my normal clothes towards the end of the flight, the crew did not proactively offer to remove the bedding, and only did so on request.

Before long, afternoon tea (inspired by The Dorchester hotel) was being offered. Here is the menu.



Snacks
An individual selection of sandwiches featuring smoked salmon, roasted chicken with mustard mayonnaise, prawns with lime mayonnaise and dill and aubergine caviar with red pepper confit

Pâtisserie
Plain or fruit scones served warm with clotted cream and strawberry preserves
Hazelnut financier, strawberry tart and praline mille-feuille

Beverages
Twinings Teas – English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Mint Humbug, Honeycomb Camomile, Red Berry Fool and Jasmine Pearls
Coffee – Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated, espresso or cappuccino



I originally opted for the ice cream sundae from the lunch menu, but alas the ice cream was more cream than ice at this late stage in the flight, and so I instead went with the scones and a pot of breakfast tea, and very pleased I was too. The cake selection met with approval from my travelling companion.






We didn’t make much time up on route, and landed in Toronto around an hour behind schedule, not that I was particularly fussed. It was a beautiful evening in Toronto, and I was looking forward to the following days and exploring the city.



We parked at the gate next to a recently-arrived Cathay Pacific 77W from HKG. Unlike the Cathay aircraft, we didn’t have a second airbridge attached to us (despite being available), and even worse the crew made no attempt to hold back the Club World passengers from the upper deck or rear main deck cabin at Door 2L. This is something so basic that it’s just really annoying not to see being done, particularly on 4 class aircraft.

Baggage delivery was prompt once the belt started moving, and soon we were in a taxi on our way to the InterContinental Toronto Yorkville.

Summary

It was so nice to be upgraded, but disappointing to see several service standards fall by the way onboard. Given the choice, I would not select Rows 4 or 5, as I feel they are too close to the central pairs, despite the ‘wing’ around the head area of the new First seat. Rows 2-3 offer a much more private experience.

For a detailed review of the British Airways Concorde Room at LHR T5 and more pictures of the new BA First cabin, you may like to read my HKG trip report from 2011: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...sh-airways-first-class-w-pics.html

InterContinental Toronto Yorkville

This is one of two ICs in Toronto, the other being more business-orientated and located near to the main station.

Yorkville is a lovely area to the north of downtown, but with good transport links to further south on the metro and by taxi (although the latter is not particularly cheap). The area is home to several museums and is bordered by the university district (think leafy, with varied architecture). Yorkville is also the premium shopping area of Toronto, including the flagship Holt Renfrew department store (a nicer version of Selfridges for my UK readers).

Our taxi pulled up outside the hotel and a bellboy immediately took our luggage and directed us inside to the reception, at which there was no queue. We were promptly checked in and given directions to our room on the 6th floor, with a courtyard view (not particularly exciting, but not a brick wall either).











The hotel has a fairly classical styling, but with a modern twist. The rooms have recently been refurbished, and ours was quite large for a standard room, with ample space between the entrance and the beds, enough room for sitting at the desk between the two double beds or at the table in the comfy armchair.













The bathroom was slightly older than the room itself, but again, very spacious, with a separate low bathtub and fairly small walk-in shower. Amenities were by Ginseng and Macadamia.









The Ambassador welcome fruit was waiting in the room on arrival, although I had to request for the complimentary mineral water (and on subsequent days too). A nice Ambassador perk at this hotel was the option to have 48hrs complimentary internet in lieu of the complimentary movie. There was reasonably fast wifi in the room and throughout the hotel.



One thing I did find disappointing was the lack of tea in the room – there were only coffee capsules for the machine. My only other gripe about the room was the noisy air conditioning, but it was very efficient such that it wasn’t needed much.



Service in the hotel was very good, particularly at breakfast. We breakfasted each day in the hotel’s only restaurant. There were several different options available, and all were excellent quality, presented well and delivered with exacting attention, particularly by the weekend team. Swapping items on the menu between the different options also wasn’t a problem.









The hotel has a small lap pool on the roof adjacent to the sun terrace and gym, which I found perfectly adequate for my use, particularly as there was nobody in the pool when I used it! The changing rooms were well stocked with amenities.

We sampled in room dining on one night, which was promptly delivered. Our butter chicken was well presented and excellent quality, with no fatty meat as you may expect sometimes in a curry.





Check-out was a thoroughly professional affair, with a thank-you for my Ambassador loyalty.

In summary, this is a very good hotel in keeping with the well-respected InterContinental brand. There is little the hotel could do to improve upon its current position, and I would be happy to stay here again if back in the city.

Toronto

Our first day in Toronto was spent wandering from the hotel in Yorkville all the way south through downtown, past the CN Tower to the harbour front. From there, we took the fairly cheap ferry across to the Toronto Islands. From Centre Island, we walked around to the community of Algonquin, which was fascinating to see. A whole island community, it is well worth exploring beyond the more touristy Centre Island, and walking along Lake Ontario’s shoreline to discover this peaceful hideaway. There were fantastic views of the city skyline and departing aircraft from the island airport.















That evening we dined at Sotto Sotto, a little Italian restaurant recommended to us by our hotel concierge. This was a charming place, packed to the brim with mainly locals, and bursting with atmosphere. The restaurant is located in the basement of its building in Yorkville, but this only added to the charm. Service was prompt and understated, and the menu simple but exquisite. We both had the lasagne, one of the special dishes that evening. This was just what one looks for in an Italian – authentic to the last degree. It was interesting to see the photos lining the entrance wall of the many famous faces that have eaten here historically. Whilst not cheap (around £100 for two), this restaurant comes highly recommended.



Our second day in the city saw us exploring downtown further, walking through the university district, through Chinatown, Kensington Market, to the heritage distillery district. It was fascinating to see how quickly the different areas through the city changed. One moment you could be walking along a typically ‘American’ street, wide and open, and the next walking through a little bit of Hong Kong. Kensington Market was very quirky, a mix of hippy shops and grocery stalls, that somehow came together to create an eclectic vibe. I enjoyed wandering around the leafy university district and appreciating the architectural differences between new and old. The distillery district was a little too touristy for my liking, and whilst interesting from an architectural standing, I wouldn’t rush to visit again.











On our third half-day in the city, prior to leaving for the island airport, we walked around Yorkville and visited the Church St (gay and lesbian) area. This made a great contrast from Yorkville just a few streets away – the area really did have a community feel unmatched by a lot of the rest of the city that we visited.









Summary

This is just a small collection of the hundreds of photos I took in the city. We had a great time in Toronto – it felt similar in many ways to New York, and yet vastly different in others – cleaner, friendlier, more water, more greenery, and yet with that typically North American vibe. And of course, fire hydrants and school buses. Gotta love them. I look forward to the opportunity to return to this city and explore some of the outlying districts.

Porter Airlines YTZ-YUL

Porter is a fairly small carrier operating out of its home base at Toronto Billy Bishop airport (the ‘island’ airport) to destinations throughout Eastern Canada and Eastern US. It is quite unique, not least due to its spectacular home airport, but also due to its focus on premium service, despite being a one-class carrier.

We took a taxi to the airport ferry terminal, which is really just a small building from which a ferry shuttles passengers and crew back and forth to the airport, only about 50 metres away across the water. The ferry crossing took all of a minute, and whilst there was a bit of a queue to board the ferry initially, it wasn’t too bad. The convenience of this airport compared to Pearson more than makes up for the minor inconvenience of the ferry crossing, and the view of the city from the ferry is certainly different.









We emerged from the airport-side ferry terminal into the check-in hall, which was spacious and well signed, with separate areas for US and Canadian destinations, and a couple of desks for Air Canada, the airport’s only other commercial carrier. There were a couple of people checking in before us, but it wasn’t long before we were also being checked in by the rather miserable agent. No attempt was made to give directions to security or ask whether we had used the terminal before.

Security was a no-queue affair, and once down the escalator we were within the spacious departure lounge. The lounge features a business centre with iMac computers, a refreshment area with complimentary soft drinks, tea, coffee, nuts and biscuits, and a small shop from where sandwiches and salads can be purchased. The rest of the lounge has two distinct seating areas – one less private, with armchairs, and a larger area with privacy screens around groups of four chairs. As this lounge is essentially an economy class waiting area, it’s pretty good, but comparing to a business class lounge it doesn’t stand up well. The lounge was pretty crowded, but there was a reasonable view of the several domestic gates on tarmac level.



We took a seat in the more private seating area, and caught up on emails etc. thanks to the free wifi. Before long boarding was announced, and we made our way through Door A to board at Gate 4. Initially, Door A wouldn’t open, and we had to wait a couple of minutes before an agent realised and came and released it.

Date: May 2012
Route: YTZ [Toronto Billy Bishop] – YUL [Montreal Trudeau]
Aircraft: Dash 8-Q400, C-GLQZ (2010)
Seats: 3A, 3B

Our carry-on bags were offered to be checked at the gate, but we declined as the flight looked pretty empty. Indeed, there were only around 14 passengers on the 70 seat aircraft, such that it felt very much like a (noisy) private jet! We were welcomed onboard and took our pre-selected (for a CAD10 fee each) seats on the right hand side of the aircraft (3C, 3D). After checking with the cabin crew member, who subsequently checked with the pilot to confirm takeoff runway and weight balance, we moved to the left hand side for the view of the city as we took off.

A manual safety demonstration was carried out, before our captain informed us of our route and pushback commenced. We took off with a truly fabulous view of the city, although unfortunately I couldn’t take any photos due to the crew member seated in the jump seat a few seats in front of us and nobody in the surrounding seats to block the view.





This was my first time on a propeller aircraft, believe it or not, and I did find it fairly noisy, although the whole experience was very novel. The takeoff in particular was rather brisk and deafening at the same time. The washroom was absolutely tiny, uncomfortably so.





The seats Porter have fitted within their Dash aircraft are upholstered in cream leather, and have an ‘executive’ look and feel about them. They are pretty comfortable for sitting in for a few hours, featuring a 34” pitch, so similar to BA Club Europe (BA’s European business class). The 2-2 seating throughout the aircraft adds to the private feel, and the large-ish windows make for easy viewing.









Shortly after takeoff, the two crew members hand delivered the meal box, which featured a ham sandwich, a couple of cookies and a chocolate, along with a bottle of water. A drinks run was done via trolley, with orange juice provided in a real glass. Beer and wine was also available (complimentary). The catering was very fresh and tasty, and really far exceeded my expectations for a flight that only lasted just over an hour. Comparing to a similar flight length on BA in Euro Traveller (European economy class), when one would receive a drink in a plastic glass and some nuts or a biscuit, Porter really does seem superior.







We landed slightly early into Montreal, and glided down the runway until touchdown around halfway down, which meant some very harsh breaking was required. I guess this was to reach the terminal-end of the runway quicker, but it did slightly unnerve me when I saw the piano keys for the opposite end of the runway to which we had landed and were still travelling around 50mph.

I found it amusing that our little Dash 8 got an airbridge at YUL – indeed, the airbridge was so large for the door size that a little ramp had to be placed between the bridge and the door.

Our flight was not clearly signed in the baggage reclaim hall, but we soon spotted our bags doing the rounds around 5 minutes after arriving in the hall. It was a short walk to the taxi rank, from where we were whisked to the IC Montreal.

Summary

This was a very novel experience, not least due to YTZ being a unique airport environment. The Porter philosophy of providing a premium experience for all worked well from a passenger perspective. Everything from check-in through to disembarkation was pretty smooth, and I appreciated the little touches such as the real glass during the meal service, and the opportunity to use a lounge before departure as part of what is essentially an ‘economy’ service. If you’re in the area and are looking for an alternative to Air Canada, I’d highly recommend Porter.

InterContinental Montreal

Our taxi pulled up at the hotel and we were met by a bellboy in the small ground floor lobby, before being directed up the escalator to the main lobby area.







The hotel is trying rather hard to be a ‘boutique’ hotel, but not really pulling it off very well. Far too many unnecessary small cushions everywhere and silly pieces of ‘art’ such as hands stuck to the wall at the entrance to the bar. Really not in keeping with the IC brand.











Check-in was transacted by a friendly if unprofessional agent, who made no recognition of my Ambassador status, nor did she provide the guaranteed upgrade or offer anything in lieu when prompted. I enquired about Club access and accepted the CAD60 charge per night, as this also gave free wifi in room.

Our ‘deluxe view’ room on the 22nd floor did indeed have a good view of the port and over the old town. The room was warmly decorated, but rather dark due to a lack of artificial lighting – in particular, there was no second table lamp by the bed. There was no welcome Ambassador fruit plate, mineral water or gift, there was not enough tea for two on the tea tray, and there was only one cup, one glass and one bathrobe in the wardrobe. In short, whoever had set up the room had completely failed to grasp the concept of two beds = two people.











The bathroom, as with the room, was spacious enough and featured Pharmacopia amenities. The walk in shower was of a decent size, although annoyingly the soap tray did not have a hole, meaning the soap flooded every shower. The extractor fan was incredibly noisy, but did its job pretty well so was bearable.







I enquired about the lack of Ambassador amenities at the front desk, and was rather abruptly told that they only recognised Royal Ambassadors, which clearly is untrue. I didn’t take no for an answer and spoke with another member of staff, eventually receiving a gift of cupcakes and the mineral water. It is incredibly annoying to have to ask for this, as it rather defeats the point of the ‘welcome’.



Breakfast the first morning was taken in the Club lounge. There was nothing exclusive about this Club. Whilst it was nicely furnished and decorated, the breakfast was pitiful. The lounge was very busy, and as such the tiny platters of food constantly ran out, such that there was only one selection available at any one time. Essentially a choice of cold scrambled eggs or cold scrambled eggs. This was completely unacceptable, and after extensive discussions at the front desk I cancelled the Club access for the remaining two nights and negotiated a discount on breakfast in the main restaurant along with continued free in-room internet. I did have to laugh when the member of staff tried to explain to me that the breakfast was ‘gourmet’.

The main restaurant breakfast selection was very good, with a secluded buffet area away from the main seating area. The service, as throughout the rest of the hotel, was not wholly professional and was delivered by a rather mixed bunch of people that looked rather out of place and out of their depth. Most strange.

















In-room dining was sampled on two evenings, and was perfectly adequate.





The swimming pool was viewed, but not sampled due to lack of time. It looked very similar to the IC Toronto’s lap pool.



In summary, this was a disappointing hotel experience. Having stayed in many InterContinental properties, I can safely say this was not up to standard. The complete lack of Ambassador recognition was unforgiveable. I have contacted Priority Club regarding the issues I’ve raised here, and am awaiting their reply. I would not return to this hotel if back in Montreal, and might look to the Sofitel as an alternative.

Montreal

Our first full day in the city found us exploring the old town area of the city, which felt very French indeed! The historic buildings enabled plenty of good architectural photos, and it was interesting to see the French Canadian crossover at every turn. This area certainly felt far apart from much of the rest of Canada we’d experienced. Into the afternoon, we wandered through Chinatown to downtown, where the contrasts were as great as in Toronto. Walking as far north as the McGill university campus at the foot of Mount Royal, we discovered the nearby museums and upscale shopping district.













On that evening we ate at Restaurant Gandhi in the old town a few blocks from our hotel, recommended to us by our concierge. Despite not being particularly busy, the atmosphere was still pretty good. The interior design was not what you might expect from an Indian, in that it was rather modern and European, but I liked it. The service was efficient and the cuisine beautifully balanced. Both the vegetable and chicken balti were perfectly made, with good quality, tender chicken used in the meat dish. Our tarka dhal side dish was perfectly seasoned. The only disappointment was our waiter reminding us to tip at the end of the service, which I didn’t particularly appreciate. All the same, I would certainly recommend Restaurant Gandhi based on the setting and quality of the cuisine.

Our second day was the only poor weather day of the entire trip, with the morning featuring heavy rain and very overcast skies. Luckily things dried up later in the day, and whilst the humidity had increased somewhat, we made the climb up Mount Royal to admire the view from the chalet at the top. The park area around made a nice contrast to the busy city below, with the contrast made doubly apparent having to literally barge our way through the student protestors to get to the base of the mountain. I must admit it was a little unnerving and at first I wasn’t willing to cross through the protest, but a local lady who had kindly stopped to help us with directions assured us that it would be fine.







The good weather returned for our third day, during which we took a taxi to the delightful botanical gardens. The Chinese garden and rock garden were particular highlights, and the Olympic park made a stunning backdrop to this green oasis. The gardens are well worth a visit for anybody finding themselves in Montreal.









Summary

Montreal was a city of a number of contrasts. I appreciated the architectural merit of the old town and greatly enjoyed exploring the botanical gardens along with its associated insectarium. However, downtown felt rather bland, as if it was lacking a certain energy. Perhaps the student protests had put a damper on the city’s usual vibe, but something certainly felt to be missing. I would recommend a visit to Montreal for any first-timer in Eastern Canada, as there are most certainly some hidden gems to discover.

[Edited 2012-06-19 13:12:17]

32 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineGenius12 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2007, 197 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (2 years 2 months 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 18574 times:

BA Club World, YUL-LHR

We left our hotel around 4 hours prior to scheduled departure at 22:00, and were at the airport by 18:30 thanks to a rather ‘brakes and accelerator’ taxi driver. Check-in didn’t open for another half hour, so to my horror we had to sit on the hard seats in the check-in hall. Imagine.

As it turned out, check-in opened a few minutes early, with a dedicated lane for Club World, Gold and Silver. As Montreal flights do not offer a First cabin, there is no separate First check-in desk. Everything looked very swish at check-in, with proper BA branding and the staff in full BA ground staff uniforms. It really didn’t look very ‘outstation’ at all, which I thought was excellent.

We were checked in promptly, with a CW tag applied to our bags. Directions were given to the shared lounge, the ‘TD First Class lounge’, which is not really a first class lounge, but a generic contract business class lounge used by several carriers.

There was a rather poorly signed fast track lane at security, but with hardly anybody in the queue (maybe nobody could find it?), we were promptly through to airside and on our way to the lounge.

The lounge is around halfway down the concourse to the left after security. We were welcomed in by a non-smiling and non-speaking dragon. What a contrast from the friendly check-in agents. The lounge features a lounge area behind the entrance desk opposite the washrooms, with an armchair style seating area beyond (with ample power points). To the right beyond the lounge area is the self-serve bar, buffet and café-style seating area. Wifi is free, provided by the airport authority, and was reasonably quick for browsing web pages, but pretty useless for video watching.







The drinks and catering selection was pretty standard for a contract lounge, and certainly not a patch on any oneworld business class lounge, let alone BA’s Galleries lounges. There was a small selection of sandwiches and salad, with nuts, cookies, pastries and crisps also available. Two types of beer were available on tap, along with a variety of spirits and wines. I don’t recall seeing any champagne.

We had been informed of a one hour delay to the flight at check-in due to late arrival of the inbound aircraft, and as such I had a snack of some sandwiches and cookies. Unlike many other East Coast destinations, as YUL does not have a BA lounge, no Pre-Flight Supper is offered for CW passengers. As such, the flight is not classed as a Sleeper Service, and a full meal service is offered onboard despite the late scheduled departure time (and even later actual departure time on this occasion). There is an express tray option onboard, which looked quite tempting, but I wanted to experience the full CW service as I haven’t travelled in CW since 2010 believe it or not!

As 22:30 approached, we commenced boarding, with priority boarding strictly enforced by the staff who had checked us in. We were welcomed onboard through Door 2L (only one airbridge at this gate), and were directed to our seats in the forward CW cabin on this 3 class 777.

Date: May 2012
Route: YUL [Montreal Trudeau] – LHR [London Heathrow] (T5)
Aircraft: B777-236ER, G-YMMS (2009)
Seats: 3A, 3B



Thankfully this flight was lightly loaded, and as such most of the aisle seats, and 4B in front of me (as I was sitting rearwards in 3A) were empty. This meant I didn’t have anybody’s feet to step over when egressing the seat, which is always a good thing.





















On the seat were headphones, a blanket and the CW cushion (which doubles as a pillow).



The headphones and my First PJs went into the handy tray at the base of the seat. Shortly, we were offered an Elemis washbag and a pre-departure beverage, for which I selected an orange juice.







At this time, menus were also handed out, with a wine list (or, more accurately, wine card) inserted. Below is the dinner menu that I believe is exclusive to this flight number in Club World for May 2012.





Starter
Mesclun salad with red pepper hummus, aubergine, grilled courgette and Kalamata olives

Main
Grilled Alberta AAA beef tenderloin with balsamic rosemary jus, broccoli, heirloom carrots and roasted garlic Yukon Gold mashed potatoes
Artisan pasta filled with porcini mushroom and Ricotta accompanied by tomato basil sauce, sautéed baby spinach and vine tomatoes
Poached wild Alaskan halibut with saffron sauce, potatoes au gratin and fine green beans

Dessert
Lemon curd tart with raspberries
English Stilton and Canadian Oka l’Artisan with fig chutney
A selection of fruit
Hot chocolate with warm chocolate chip cookies

Express Tray
Tandoori chicken with mango chutney on Persian naan bread served with a mesclun salad



The Club Kitchen was available on this flight, with a selection of Teoni’s handmade shortbread and Cadbury’s chocolates (according to the menu). The new Waitrose products (yogurts, fresh fruit and sandwiches) are only available on longer range flights, along with ice cream from The Ice Cream Union ex-London and Beckleberry’s pastries. I visited the Club Kitchen once during the flight, to find it not particularly well stocked, but I only required some water so wasn’t particularly fussed.

Below is the wine list, which was available in addition to a variety of apéritifs, cocktails, whiskies, cognac, beer, soft drinks, juices, coffee and Twinings tea.



Champagne
Kir Royale
Buck’s Fizz
Tattinger Brut Réserve WT Air (Canada)">NV Champagne

White Wines
Sancerre 2010, Château de Thauvenay, Loire Valley, France
Aquinas Chardonnay 2010, Napa Valley, California, USA

Red Wines
Château Malescasse 2007, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France
Hahn Pinot Noir 2010, Monterey, California, USA



The crew on this flight were very good indeed, with the CSD (who was serving in CW) welcoming me by name and saying how nice it was to see me back. It’s the little touches like this that make one feel valued as a customer.

After takeoff and hot towels, drinks orders were taken and served with nuts in a bag. I appreciate there has to be a degree of soft product differentiation with First, but really I would like to see BA offering nuts in CW in a ramekin.





The mesclun salad starter arrived on the tray along with the lemon tart dessert. I don’t like eating my starter and main course with the dessert sitting in front of me. It wouldn’t cost BA a lot to load the desserts separately, surely?! They manage to do it on the longer-range CW flights (eg. BKK), so I expect they could easily implement this on shorter flights such as YUL. The tray was delivered with a greeting by my name from the CSD, however, which pleased me no end! As usual in CW, there was no bread plate (yes, that old chestnut).





The salad was really very good indeed, and the balsamic vinegar that accompanied it was superb. However, my main course of poached halibut was slightly less satisfactory. The fish was beautifully cooked, but the saffron sauce rather overpowered the taste. This, coupled with the poor presentation of the dish, reasserted my belief that BA just does not produce very good CW main courses. This was disappointing given I had been led to believe that some catering changes to CW had been implemented.



The lemon tart dessert was a little generic tasting – a little ‘processed’. However, it was tasty enough, something you might find in a Tesco rather than Waitrose. At least I could earn Clubcard points…



With the meal service over and my choice of documentary about new recruits at Sandhurst concluding, I changed into my First PJs and stole a blanket from an unoccupied seat to lay over the seat as a sort of mattress pad. This makes quite a bit of difference for me, in covering the uncomfortable gap in the seat that can be annoying without an under blanket.



I slept for around 3.5 hours, and woke to the sounds of breakfast an hour prior to landing from this short 6 hour sector. Below is the breakfast menu.



Starters
Chilled fruit juice
A morning boost drink of apple juice, strawberry and kiwi
Fruit yogurt

Bakery
Warm bacon roll served with tomato ketchup
A selection of assorted breakfast pastries



As usual with these East Coast flights, breakfast is a simple affair in the air, but most customers (me included) do not really want a full breakfast after only a maximum of 4.5 hours sleep. I opted for the yogurt and an orange juice to wake me up, as I planned to eat a full breakfast in the arrivals lounge.





We landed only slightly behind schedule having made up some time en route, and parked at a T5C gate. Despite this gate being equipped with three airbridges (ready for BA’s A380s), only one bridge was used to Door 2L. With only 3 classes, this is not really an issue I suppose, but it would’ve been nice to exit via 1L. Nevertheless, the excellent crew held back the rear CW cabin and WTP/WT pax to allow the forward CW cabin to disembark first. Upon exiting, the CSD thanked us by name again. Top marks!

There was hardly any queue for immigration, and after a rather long wait for the first bags to arrive (amongst which thankfully were our priority-tagged bags) we were through customs and up to Galleries Arrivals on the first mezzanine level.

We dropped our luggage with the friendly lady at the desk, before being welcomed into the lounge. I maintain that this lounge is an excellent facility for arriving longhaul passengers – and thankfully is never that busy in my experience, as a lot of people don’t seem to know of its existence. The lounge has a very ‘business’ feel, but I quite like that.





The breakfast selection (available 04:30-12:00) is very comprehensive, and far exceeds that available in the Galleries Club departure lounges (but is on a par with the Galleries First lounge).









I enjoyed some berries and yogurt followed by a full English breakfast, whilst my travelling companion drank her rather watery porridge…





Summary

This was an excellent flight. A little too short for my liking if anything, but I didn’t feel too groggy (particularly after breakfast in the lounge), which is testament to the comfort of the Next Generation Club World seat (available on all 747s and 777s for those new to BA). The crew were very good indeed, and it was refreshing to fly on a 777 (albeit half empty), with good quality air and a reduction in noise when compared to the 747 – as much as I love the Queen of the Skies and her private upper deck CW cabin.

Overall Trip Summary

We had a great time travelling through Toronto and meandering around Montreal. I loved being upgraded on the flight out, greatly enjoyed Toronto, marvelled at the novelty of the Porter flight, am glad to have experienced Montreal, and was well looked after on the flight home. The hotels were a tale of two halves – (almost) everything an IC should be in Toronto, and everything an IC should not be in Montreal. Travel is all about variety, and it would be rather dull if everything were the same.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this 5 part report. Please let me know your comments and questions if you have any. If you’d like any advice about BA, Porter, Toronto or Montreal, please feel free to ask here or PM me.


User currently offlinebrilondon From Canada, joined Aug 2005, 4204 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (2 years 2 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 18070 times:

This is a very arrogant and snobbish TR. Your whining about just about everything made what could have been a really good report seem like you could not wait to get out of Canada.


Rush for ever; Yankees all the way!!
User currently offlineLucky727 From Canada, joined Sep 2003, 602 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (2 years 2 months 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 17971 times:

A beautifully written & photographed report... Glad you enjoyed my home town of Toronto (and that our IC compares favourably to Montreal's). For three days in each city, you seemed to cover the essential attractions & neighbourhoods.

I love reading BA F & CW reports, as they are something I'll likely never experience, (being loyal to AC and *A, and generally a 'back of the bus' Y customer). The hard & soft products look so nice ~

Great that you were able to experience Porter: I've flown them a few times, and it really is a unique Y product with a 'business class' feel to it. I just find getting to the island to be a hassle, what with taxi or transit, queue for the ferry, then the walk, etc. There's been talk of building a fixed bridge, but none of us are holding our breath that this will ever happen, and it won't make getting to Billy Bishop that much easier, I don't think.

Thanks for an enjoyable read  

L727



··· [·] oooooooo [·] oooo oo ooooo [·] ooooooooooooooooooo [·]
User currently offlinevisualapproach From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2012, 127 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (2 years 2 months 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 17904 times:

Quoting brilondon (Reply 2):

Amen to that.

My heart nearly broke for you when they didn't make remake your bed on the outward flight.


User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1926 posts, RR: 24
Reply 5, posted (2 years 2 months 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 17301 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Thanks for sharing, Genius12! BA F looks really nice as always - great looking food!

Quoting Genius12 (Thread starter):
One thing I did find disappointing was the lack of tea in the room – there were only coffee capsules for the machine. My only other gripe about the room was the noisy air conditioning, but it was very efficient such that it wasn’t needed much.

We found the same things while staying recently at the Intercontinental in Washington, DC. Interesting!

Best,

Matthew (767747)


User currently offlinerunner13 From United States of America, joined Jun 2010, 240 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (2 years 2 months 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 17246 times:

Quoting visualapproach (Reply 4):
Amen to that.

My heart nearly broke for you when they didn't make remake your bed on the outward flight.

Or how about when the porter agent didn't ask him if he had been to the airport, or tell him where security was.

No attempt was made to give directions to security or ask whether we had used the terminal before.

I almost fell off my couch laughing.
To the trip reporter, it was a very well documented trip. My friend goes to the University of Toronto and I have been to the neighborhood several times and it's a cool place. Other wise it seems you are very well travelled, and quite high on the income level. This report does seem snobbish, and that you are out of touch with the normal person. Next time I would suggest leaving out the snobbish parts. I enjoyed reading about the first class lounge, and stuff, but I wouldn't add something like I can't believe they didn't have a 74 merlot. I know you didn't say that but you get the point.


User currently offlineYVRSpeedBird From Canada, joined Nov 2011, 84 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (2 years 2 months 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 16116 times:

I don't get why others are flaming the OP. It is a report on BA's premium cabins and the hotels, much like Tripadvisor, and he is entitled to write his review. So what if he has very high expectations? The beauty of A.net is the diversity of members here (professions, income levels, race, whatever...). Genius12 never insulted anyone, nor did he look down on the supposedly "normal person", so don't lecture him on how to make his report more palatable to the masses so to speak. This is a very fine, well-written report, so good on you Genuis12!

[Edited 2012-06-20 07:02:10]

User currently offlinebaje427 From Barbados, joined Jul 2011, 405 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (2 years 2 months 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 15906 times:

Very detailed report interesting tow PD trip reports posted in quick succession all with the same result great service light loads is this common with this airline?

User currently offlineAA94 From United States of America, joined Aug 2011, 583 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (2 years 2 months 4 days ago) and read 15590 times:

Quoting YVRSpeedBird (Reply 7):
I don't get why others are flaming the OP. It is a report on BA's premium cabins and the hotels, much like Tripadvisor, and he is entitled to write his review. So what if he has very high expectations? The beauty of A.net is the diversity of members here (professions, income levels, race, whatever...). Genius12 never insulted anyone, nor did he look down on the supposedly "normal person", so don't lecture him on how to make his report more palatable to the masses so to speak. This is a very fine, well-written report, so good on you Genuis12!

  

The point of attaining elite status is exactly these perks - the upgrades, the bed-making, the personal touches. Those are the things that draw people towards status. If you have spent your money being loyal to an airline, you have a right to expect that the airline will in turn reward you for that loyalty. Same thing goes for hotels. If they don't deliver, the customer has a right to expect better.

To the OP, thank you for writing such a well-rounded report. I enjoyed experiencing both Montreal and Toronto, both are high on the top of my to-visit list.

Cheers,

AA94



Choose a challenge over competence / Eleanor Roosevelt
User currently offlinejetblast From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 1231 posts, RR: 10
Reply 10, posted (2 years 2 months 4 days ago) and read 15527 times:

This was a well-documented report, some nice photos and the hotel section especially was appreciated (as I generally end up in the same hotels every time and they aren't Intercontinental properties).

Quoting visualapproach (Reply 4):
My heart nearly broke for you when they didn't make remake your bed on the outward flight.
Quoting runner13 (Reply 6):
I enjoyed reading about the first class lounge, and stuff, but I wouldn't add something like I can't believe they didn't have a 74 merlot.

I still think BA did pretty well considering your upgrade to F was a complimentary one.



Speedbird Concorde One
User currently offlineGenius12 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2007, 197 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (2 years 2 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 15477 times:

First of all, thanks to all those who have taken the time to read and reply.  
Quoting brilondon (Reply 2):
Your whining about just about everything

I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy the report. I'm surprised that you perceived that I was 'whining' about everything. If you read the trip report again, you will perhaps notice that there were some minor F service issues which I raised, and a number of issues with the IC Montreal. However, for the rest of the report, I am pretty confident I expressed my enjoyment/satisfaction!

Quoting Lucky727 (Reply 3):
A beautifully written & photographed report...

Thanks Lucky727!

Quoting visualapproach (Reply 4):
My heart nearly broke for you when they didn't make remake your bed on the outward flight.

Sorry to hear that it sounds like you didn't enjoy the report. As a frequent BA traveller, I get to know the airline very well (and indeed, have read the service standards). Re-making the bed in international first class is usually what a good crew would do, and I used it in this context when describing the crew as part of the report. Personally, I'm not that fussed about it, but I included it in the report as part of the context.

I wonder whether you have any other comments regarding the rest of the report?

Quoting 767747 (Reply 5):
Thanks for sharing, Genius12!

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Quoting runner13 (Reply 6):
This report does seem snobbish

Sorry to read that you didn't enjoy the report. Regarding the Porter check-in agent, he was very miserable and not personable at all. Other check-in agents were asking people whether it was their first time travelling with Porter, so I thought it would've been nice if our agent had. Not a huge issue, but worthy of mention.

Quoting YVRSpeedBird (Reply 7):
This is a very fine, well-written report

Thank you!

Quoting baje427 (Reply 8):
Very detailed report

Thanks!

Quoting AA94 (Reply 9):
To the OP, thank you for writing such a well-rounded report.

Thank you, and I'm glad you understand my trip reporting style!  
Quoting jetblast (Reply 10):
I still think BA did pretty well considering your upgrade to F was a complimentary one.

Very true - although BA should never distinguish between upgrades and full revenue in the cabin, hence the expectation level is pretty much the same as had I paid for F outright.


User currently offlineokees From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 424 posts, RR: 5
Reply 12, posted (2 years 2 months 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 14801 times:

Thanks for your report! Well written.

Stupid protesters, they threatened to derail our entire summer festivities here in Montreal. Luckily the Grand Prix weekend went smoothly and was highly successful. I hope that the protesters didn't turn you off too much, Montreal is a beautiful city with lots to offer. Downtown area is a bit bland as you said, but there are other more exciting neighborhoods. Next time you visit send me a shout and I'll gladly show you the spots  

Okees



mobs jakis
User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1255 posts, RR: 4
Reply 13, posted (2 years 2 months 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 14644 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

This is exactly how a First Class trip report needs to be written, beautiful narrative, crisp and sharp pictures, (and might I add a bit of snobbery which I think comes with riding up front!!). I basically did not find you to be complaining, but just highlighting the lack of acceptable service standards when flying in F/CW or at the hotel on the ground. I'll say it again a brilliant report, and some very nice photos of the service provided. Thanks for sharing.

Absolutely gorgeous photos of Toronto/Montreal, and you mentioned you took tons of them. I would have quite enjoyed viewing all of them actually, love looking at great photos!! Toronto is noted for being the most unfriendliest city in Canada lol, but it looks like you got better service standards at the IC in Toronto than in Montreal, but then service wise, you get great service even at a Tim Horton's or McDonald's. I guess they mean in terms of it's people, everybody is so rushed there is just no time to be nice lol.

And Porter is such a little gem is it not!!


User currently offlinejwhite9185 From United Kingdom, joined May 2007, 1274 posts, RR: 4
Reply 14, posted (2 years 2 months 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 14633 times:

Great detailed report there.

Toronto is on the list of places to revisit. Both first and club look impressive on BA - hopefully i'll get to try them myself one day. The lounge in Montreal doesn't look to bad compared to other North American lounges. The Club America lounge in MIA stick in my mind as a pretty poor attempt!



A300,A319,A320,A321,A333,A343,A346,A388,732,733,734,735,738,741,742,744,752,763,772,77W,788,Q400,DC10,E145,E170,E175,E19
User currently offlinebaexecutive From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 738 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (2 years 2 months 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 14337 times:

Excellent report & I'm glad you were upgraded to First.

It is disappointing to hear that the crew on your outbound flight weren't living up to the high standard set out by British Airways, I noticed also that the pyjamas & slippers were still in the wrapping (these should be removed before being presented to the customer). The swizzle stick in your orange juice should be balls down in the glass.

One thing I would say is that crew would not be expected to remake a bed once it had been originally made. This is for a number of reasons, least not the fact it is not incorporated within service standards but to minimise disruption in the cabin when other passengers are sleeping. Could you imagine if 7 people (50% of the cabin) made 3/4 trips to the W.C, you would be talking about remaking beds 21/28 times throughout a flight, potentially disturbing other passengers not to mention encroaching on that particular customers personal space. At night the First cabin is closed to other crew to minimise noise and disruption.

The customer profile for those travelling in First is that of high level directors, politicians, heads of state, celebrities and V.I.Ps, these are people who take their privacy very seriously and IMO would not take kindly to crew rummaging about in their beds whilst they are away - we respond to our customers needs and listen to their feedback, if remaking beds was something they wanted then I'm sure it would have been incorporated into our service standards long ago. In saying that, if a customer requests this service then I would expect it to be done quickly and quietly.

Regarding the lounge, have you fed back the problems to the Executive Club?


User currently offlineardian From Netherlands, joined Oct 2000, 544 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (2 years 2 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 14232 times:

A very detailed report with excellent pictures. In all honesty, I don't think your report sounds snobbish (and I fully agree with YVRSpeedBird and AA94). Don't worry about the people who are complaining, this reminds me of a certain trip report from a couple of years ago: an OP got flamed, because he mentioned the fact that while flying SQ F-class, the FA didn't placed the logo of the champagne glass towards him (OP noticed it was a lack of attention to detail next to other things, hereby highlighting an 'uncharacteristic' service in SQ F-standards). When you're making miles in premium classes, are loyal to airlines/hotel chains and having an elite status, you're entitled to have certain expectations. It's the attention to detail that matters.

Thanks for sharing your report with us.


User currently offlineshamrock604 From Ireland, joined Sep 2007, 4167 posts, RR: 13
Reply 17, posted (2 years 2 months 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 14110 times:

I thoroughly enjoyed this report.

It was lovely to see what both Toronto and Montreal look like in summer, as I have only ever been to either in the winter months! I really ought to return some time.

Whilst you obviously have a good eye for detail, and high standards, I feel your main gripes were simply areas in which the airline or hotel promised a certain level of service, and did not deliver. Thus, you were entirely justified. I also detected some British humour (the reference to having to sit on hard seats while waiting to check in at YUL), and feel that perhaps some readers less familiar with that style of humour may not have "got" how you were making some of your points. (Living just next door in Ireland, the humour does rub off!)  

The catering in Club World really does continue to disappoint with each TR I read. It simply never looks up to scratch. It seems to attempt to combine fine dining with "down home" British cooking, but completely fails to pull off either of them. First Class seems to strike that balance much better, and the afternoon tea had me drooling slightly....

I fly long haul mainly with Skyteam alliance, and am very rarely disappointed with catering in J class. BA have some work to do here still.



Flown EI,FR,RE,EIR,VE,SI,TLA,BA,BE,BD,VX,MON,AF,YS,WX,KL,SK,LH,OK,OS,LX,IB,LTU,HLX,4U,SU,CO,DL,UA,AC,PR,MH,SQ,QF, EY, EK
User currently offlineWestJet747 From Canada, joined Aug 2011, 1830 posts, RR: 10
Reply 18, posted (2 years 2 months 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 13994 times:

Thanks for the well-crafted trip report Genius12! Probably one of the best I've had the pleasure of reading on A-net. As a born-and-raised Montrealer and a Toronto-area transplant, it is great to see both cities included in the same TR.

It's great to hear you enjoyed the Porter flight. I'm a loyal VIPorter cardholder and fly them at every chance, despite living closer to
Quoting brilondon (Reply 2):

On the contrary, it's "whining" customers like Genius12 that keep customer service-oriented industries in check. Without customer who demand perfection, businesses have little incentive to strive for that degree of excellence.

I'm not one to raise a fuss if something isn't 100% as expected. So to Genius12: your snobbery is welcomed!  

[Edited 2012-06-21 21:04:13]


Flying refined.
User currently offlinetotesen From Mexico, joined Dec 2008, 64 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (2 years 2 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 13730 times:

Quoting brilondon (Reply 2):

Very snobish indeed, but loved the report, its a premium report if we can say so. With high expecations, and attention to detail, if all the airlines had someone like you, clearly the service would be better than what it is today! Great report, hope to read anotherone soon.



Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/totesen
User currently offlineshamrock321 From Ireland, joined May 2008, 1597 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (2 years 2 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 13621 times:

Really enjoyed reading the ''first'' part of the report, have recently worked in this cabin for the first time last week, stention to detail really is important! Were you offered Champagne with afternoon tea?

User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 15
Reply 21, posted (2 years 2 months 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 13202 times:

Hello

Interesting report, glad you enjoyed Canada! The pics bring some memories of my visit in February.
BA and Porter seem to have taken good care of you  .


Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineGenius12 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2007, 197 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (2 years 2 months 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 13130 times:

Thanks to all who have commented once more! It really does make the many preparatory hours for a report like this worthwhile to receive such comments  
Quoting okees (Reply 12):
Thanks for your report! Well written.

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
This is exactly how a First Class trip report needs to be written

Thanks very much!  
Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 14):
The lounge in Montreal doesn't look to bad compared to other North American lounges.

Very true - comparing to a BA lounge, it is certainly nothing special, but comparing to some of the other third party lounges out there it is perfectly adequate.

Quoting baexecutive (Reply 15):
Regarding the lounge, have you fed back the problems to the Executive Club?

Thanks for the detailed response regarding service standards in F! Much appreciated   I haven't contacted BAEC, as they were only minor gripes. My major concern on this trip was the IC Montreal which I've fed back to Priority Club.

Quoting ardian (Reply 16):
When you're making miles in premium classes, are loyal to airlines/hotel chains and having an elite status, you're entitled to have certain expectations. It's the attention to detail that matters.

Thanks for your understanding  
Quoting shamrock604 (Reply 17):
I also detected some British humour (the reference to having to sit on hard seats while waiting to check in at YUL), and feel that perhaps some readers less familiar with that style of humour may not have "got" how you were making some of your points.

Exactly! I guess those comments could be perceived as 'snobbish' by those who don't get the British humour  
Quoting WestJet747 (Reply 18):
Thanks for the well-crafted trip report Genius12!

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Quoting totesen (Reply 19):
Great report, hope to read anotherone soon.

I hope to write another one soon!

Quoting shamrock321 (Reply 20):
Were you offered Champagne with afternoon tea?

No, I wasn't, but then I don't tend to drink alcohol on flights to help with minimising jetlag, so I guess the crew had picked up on this.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 21):
Interesting report, glad you enjoyed Canada!

This was my second time in Canada, and what a contrast East v West! I love the country, and look forward to returning soon.


User currently offlineadamspotter From Netherlands, joined Feb 2011, 1151 posts, RR: 3
Reply 23, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 12342 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hi Genius12,

Nice and detailed report with great pictures! Toronto sure is a great city, haven't visited Montreal myself yet..
And congrats on the upgrade  

cheers,
Brendan // adamspotter


User currently offlineAirCanada787 From Canada, joined Nov 2010, 282 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 12263 times:

Thanks for posting it was interesting to read for sure. While I understand you expect a particular level of service I agree slightly that some comments came off as a bit snobbish. But nevertheless I found the report interesting to read. Just one thing that as a Canadian bugs me:

Quoting Genius12 (Thread starter):
a visit to Canada’s Atlantic coast
Quoting Genius12 (Thread starter):
Whilst researching transport options between the two cities we wanted to visit, Toronto and Montreal

Neither Toronto or Montreal are on the Atlantic coast of Canada. If you want to visit the Atlantic region sometime I would invite you to visit maybe Halifax or somewhere else in the Maritimes which is truly Atlantic Canada. Quebec and Ontario are part of central Canada.

Quoting Genius12 (Thread starter):
I found it amusing that our little Dash 8 got an airbridge at YUL – indeed, the airbridge was so large for the door size that a little ramp had to be placed between the bridge and the door.

Its not uncommon at all to use air bridges for regional aircraft in Canada. Don't forget in winter it can be quite miserable here sometimes and nobody wants to go outside more than they have to! In the winter at YTZ Porter uses special canopies that look like the end of a jetway to connect to the aircraft and protect passengers from the elements. Normally they aren't used during good weather.



The mind, like a parachute, functions only when open.
User currently onlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3232 posts, RR: 12
Reply 25, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 12039 times:

Very nice report Genius!

Quoting Genius12 (Thread starter):
Light Dishes
Courgette and Crème Fraiche Soup with Crusty Bread
Feta Cheese, Marinate Artichoke, Sweet Pepper and Aubergine Salad, Secretts Farm Leaves
Hoisin Duck, Shredded Vegetables, Sesame and Nigella Panini
Meze Plate – Humus, Baba Ganoush and Guacamole with Spiced Tortilla and Raw Vegetables

Main Course
Caesar Salad made with Baby Gem Lettuce, Herb Croutons, Anchovies and Ceasar Dressing with a choice of Hot Smoked Salmon or Smoked Chicken
BA Gourmet Beef Burger, Croxton Manor Cheddar, Potato Wedges, Garden Salad
Gnocchi with Peas, Pesto, Shaved Parmesan and Rocket

Dessert
Vanilla Cheesecake, Marinated Cherries
Seasonal Fruit Salad with Berries
Summer Pudding, Clotted Cream, Raspberry Coulis
Selection of Cheese from The British Isles – Keens Cheddar, Tunworth, Innes Log, St James, Served with Fig, Quince and Apple Chutney

MMM, sounds wonderful!

Quoting Genius12 (Thread starter):
My very first operational upgrade!

Congrats! Nice to get into F!

Quoting Genius12 (Thread starter):
but First should be fully catered for 14 passengers.

Indeed. If you can't cater to the upgraded pax too, then they shouldn't be upgraded. I read an (old) report about some people upgraded to F from C coming back from DAR....they said they felt like such 2nd class citizens that they asked to be moved back to Club

Quoting Genius12 (Thread starter):
The cake selection met with approval from my travelling companion.

Mmm, looks tasty

Quoting Genius12 (Thread starter):
we didn’t have a second airbridge attached to us (despite being available), and even worse the crew made no attempt to hold back the Club World passengers from the upper deck or rear main deck cabin at Door 2L.

BA seem to have an aversion to using more than 1 airbirdge. In LCA they always use two for the 767 though!

Quoting Genius12 (Thread starter):
I don’t like eating my starter and main course with the dessert sitting in front of me. It wouldn’t cost BA a lot to load the desserts separately, surely?! They manage to do it on the longer-range CW flights (eg. BKK), so I expect they could easily implement this on shorter flights such as YUL.

I completely agree. No need to have both served at the beginning...a lot of airlines do this though, so not specific to BA

Quoting brilondon (Reply 2):
This is a very arrogant and snobbish TR. Your whining about just about everything made what could have been a really good report seem like you could not wait to get out of Canada.

Um, what's the point in offering First Class and 5* etc if you can't expect the best. Isn't that what people pay the big bucks for?



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User currently offlineBoeing744 From Canada, joined Jun 2005, 1833 posts, RR: 23
Reply 26, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 11760 times:

Thanks very much for the detailed report.

I really hope the members accusing you of snobbery are being sarcastic. I did not perceive a snobbish attitude at all; on the contrary, I appreciated your frankness on the aspects of service you criticized. I think you fairly distributed praise and commentary, where appropriate. Bravo.


User currently offlineEASTERN747 From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 536 posts, RR: 0
Reply 27, posted (2 years 1 month 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 11734 times:

As soon as I read you were pissed off because your PJ's were not served from a silver tray, I knew this was going to be a borish and whining report. You were upgraded to F/C on an international BA flight and yet had the gall to complain about not a red glass and being offered dinner selections after those who paid were served. Airlines DO NOT cater to a full cabin if they aren't booked. It cost money to move that equipment and support stuff around. You are lucky they didn't serve you a CW meal. The trip report read like "how much food I can consume on vacation> From YUL-LHR, you ate before you got on, had 2 services on board and ate AGAIN when you got off. With all the complaints about the hotels and everything else, I suggest you stay at home where your pj's can be served to you on a silver tray and you can get a fruit basket when you get home.........Other than the whining, moaning, groaning it was a good TR and pix's were good.

User currently offlineGenius12 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2007, 197 posts, RR: 2
Reply 28, posted (2 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 11344 times:

Quoting AirCanada787 (Reply 24):
Thanks for posting it was interesting to read for sure.

Thanks, and your correction regarding the Atlantic coast has been duly noted! I really should know as I have a degree in Geography :O  
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 25):
Very nice report Genius!

Thanks very much for your detailed feedback!

Quoting Boeing744 (Reply 26):
Thanks very much for the detailed report.

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

Quoting EASTERN747 (Reply 27):
From YUL-LHR, you ate before you got on, had 2 services on board and ate AGAIN when you got off.

Sorry that it seems as though you didn't like my writing style. As I said above, I travel BA very regularly and have certain expectations with regards to service standards etc. I thought (and it seems as though others agree) that I was fairly objective in my criticism. There are certainly elements of me critiquing the products, hotels etc., but then that's just how I write trip reports.

With regards to eating - I was hungry. A snack, dinner several hours later, and breakfast several hours after that is not really excessive, no?

As for the expectation of the BA First product - BA do not differentiate between upgrades and full fare paying pax (unlike some American airlines). The expectations of the product should be the same, hence me critiquing the service appropriately. As you read, I was delighted to be upgraded, and the comments merely serve to highlight a few shortfalls in service. They are more notes than angry criticism.

I note from your posting history that you have something of a history of bad feeling against those who have been upgraded on BA.  Big grin

I guess my reporting style in this trip report was not classically 'Airliners.net' - it's more a cross between Trip Advisor and Business Traveller (the UK magazine). Some clearly liked it, others did not. You can't please all of the people all of the time!

[Edited 2012-07-03 12:40:49]

User currently offlinejflchantha From United States of America, joined Jun 2009, 124 posts, RR: 5
Reply 29, posted (2 years 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 9654 times:

Such an amazing trip report! I was looking for a Porter Airlines review but the addition of a BA flight was a great comparison!

User currently offlinenipoel123 From Netherlands, joined Jan 2011, 268 posts, RR: 0
Reply 30, posted (2 years 1 week 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 9546 times:

Genius12,

Great report. You mentioned small things that were not up to scratch, but I believe it's the small things that make the big picture. Some might say that because you were upgraded, you have to be glad with what you got, but I think passengers in all classes, regardless of how they got there, should get the service level for that class.

Anyway, good, extensive, detailed report, I enjoyed reading it.

Nick



one mile of road leads to nowhere, one mile of runway leads to anywhere
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 31, posted (2 years 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 9338 times:

Hi there.

Whilst the narrative come over as a little pompous in parts, I thought this was a superb report overall. You have a great eye for the details and a justifiably high benchmark of standards.A nice theme of gastronomy throughout too. What some members on this forum tend to forget is that it is you paying top dollar for the services....

I applaud your photography skills and thought you represented BA in a very fair way. Porter is quite a darling amongst the Anet community and it looked like a great little flight. Their fares aren't always prohibitive either.

I was in Toronto last year and didn't enjoy it hugely. However I thought you captured it very well in your photos.

Many thanks and keep up the reports - warts and all.

Rgds

Luke

Quoting brilondon (Reply 2):
This is a very arrogant and snobbish TR. Your whining about just about everything made what could have been a really good report seem like you could not wait to get out of Canada.

Silly comment. You shouldn't lambaste a report just because it isn't all roses. Part of the strength of Anet is the diversity of people - so please don't try and chase them away.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineGenius12 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2007, 197 posts, RR: 2
Reply 32, posted (2 years 1 week 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 8855 times:

Quoting jflchantha (Reply 29):
Such an amazing trip report! I was looking for a Porter Airlines review but the addition of a BA flight was a great comparison!

Thanks for your comments   Porter is a very good little airline - I wouldn't hesitate to use them again.

Quoting nipoel123 (Reply 30):
Anyway, good, extensive, detailed report, I enjoyed reading it.

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 31):
I applaud your photography skills and thought you represented BA in a very fair way.

Thank you, for those wondering my camera is a Canon PowerShot G12 (so nothing particularly fancy). It helps having good light and a good subject to photograph  


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