La Belle Province: YWG-YUL-YWG
After my quick sojourn to BC to see friends, I had another quick 3 day trip to Montréal for work. Work booked me on the WestJet flight to YUL, and an Air Canada flight for the ride home. It would be a great way to compare the current Economy class offerings of both, as I have not been on an AC flight in a while. And the return flight was on an Embraer 190, a first for me. That is what I was excited about!
Date: 23 April 2012
From: Winnipeg Richardson International (YWG)
To: Montréal Trudeau International (YUL)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-600
The weekend before this trip was spent running a Scout camp, so I was little pressed for time to pack for my flight (and a little tired as well.) I got from the camp on Sunday, showered (very necessary after 2.5 days without running water), packed, and crashed into bed. Thankfully, my flight didn't leave until 9:55AM, so I didn't have to get up at some ungodly hour to leave for the airport.
I was going to Montréal for a work meeting, but had a couple of hours to see some family before I had to check in. I found out that my dad didn't tell my grandmother that I was coming into town, so my aunts were going to surprise her by picking me up from airport and taking me to see her. This was going to be a nice start to this trip!
My dad picked me up for the airport at about 7:30am, and we got to the airport for about 8:00am. This left me plenty of time to check in and grab some breakfast. The terminal was very, very quiet when I got there. The morning rush of flights had left already, and there wasn't much going on. The openness of the new terminal is great for dissipating the noise as well, so it never really seems noisy or busy there.
I checked in, dropped off my bag (it was free to check, and I was feeling lazy), and went through security in about 5 minutes. Through the formal part of the process, I went on a hunt for breakfast.
Right past security is a baguette restaurant and TGIFridays. I'm partial to TGIF, so I grabbed a table there and ordered some pancakes for breakfast. The table afforded me a great view of the tarmac, but it was pretty quiet at the moment. Breakfast, tarmac view, and free wi-fi helped me to pass the time until boarding.
After breakfast, I had about 15 minutes until they started boarding, so I decided to go for a walk from one side of the domestic airside to the other. I took some pictures, and got back to gate 7 just as they were starting boarding.
Breakfast of an a.nutter
The gate area in the new terminal in YWG
The old terminal
A view of the new terminal from the gate area
CalmAir Saab 340
The WestJet 737-600 arrived from Edmonton, and pulled up to the gate at about 9:10. 10 minutes later they started boarding the plane. I joined the queue and was on board in my seat ready to go. The final passengers boarded the plane until 9:40. At 9:45, they closed the door and pushed back, a full 10 minutes early. The plane was only 2/3 full, and I had both seats next to me open (yay!)
View from my seat
I have been on many 737-600 flights, but this one looked really new. The wing was very shiny, and didn't have the any dirt on it. The sun and the clouds reflected beautifully off the wing. I did a major faux pas, and didn't get the plane registration (gasp!) I tried to grab it when I walked on, because I couldn't see it from the gate. I forgot to check again in Montréal, and the gate area wasn't conducive to seeing it. Sigh, next time...
Back to the TR...The plane taxied out to runway 18, and I was on the right side of the aircraft to get some great video of the city on take-off .
Video of the taxi and take-off from YWG
There were scattered clouds on the ascent, and the plane seemed to go around all them.
The rest of the flight was pretty unremarkable. The Flight Attendants tried selling some headphones, some food (no thanks.. TGIFriday pancakes were too delish!). I tried to use the IFE in my seat, but (gasp), it was broken. This is a common theme I've been experiencing with WestJet IFE. The IFE for the seat next to me worked, so I put on the moving map (or a 5 second snapshot of a map with 30 seconds of advertisements and corny jokes) and went to sleep.
The flight quickly passed and we started our descent from 41,000 at 12:56 Montréal time. It was a long, slow descent into Montréal, and the clouds were really close to the ground. We didn't break through the clouds until a few minutes before touchdown. The moving map was off as it showed us coming in from the northwest, turning southwest, and coming back to runway 6L, if the runway was in the middle of Laval. We landed at Dorval (and not in the middle of Laval) at 13:30 on runway 6L.
Video of the landing and taxi to the gate at YUL
The air bridge for the plane is quite a ways from the gate area, with a grey tower structure in between the terminal and the plane. I truly dislike these types of gates, as it blocks your view of the tarmac from the terminal and in the gate. It is the polar opposite to the glass jetbridges used in YWG. I guess I'll chalk that one up to a first world pain for an #avgeek!
Inside the terminal, I wanted to see I could go to the International area to check out any airlines not called WestJet or Air Canada. I walked to where the international flights were, and was greeted by a security guard who wouldn't let me any non-International passengers through. I was noticeably disappointed, and turned around to get my baggage. On day, I shall fly through YUL Internationally and get to see those planes!
By the time I got to the baggage claim, my bag was the only one circling the wagon...ahem... baggage carousel. Ooops. I guess my walk was longer than I thought (or they were quick getting the bags off the plane.) I grabbed my bag, called my aunt and met her in front of the airport. I spent the rest of the day hanging out with family before heading downtown and checking into the hotel.
Montréal - A city of contrasts, beauty, and energy
Because I was in Montréal for work, I was not able to explore the city as much as I wanted. I stayed at the Hotel Place D'Armes in downtown Montréal, and would recommend it as a great hotel to stay at.
Montréal is such a beautiful city with European charm, exquisite restaurants, and wonderful people. The architecture is very neo and classical at the same time. It is a truly unique destination in North America, and should be visited by everybody at least once!
Date: 25 April 2012
From: Montréal Trudeau International (YUL)
To: Winnipeg Richardson International (YWG)
Airline: Air Canada
Aircraft: Embraer 190
After two days of working meetings, I was ready to head home. I was very excited about flying (finally!) on the Embraer 190, but was NOT happy about not getting a window seat! I was stuck in the aisle, and the plane showed 100% full at check-in. Maybe I could get it reassigned at the airport? Hmmm….
My meetings ended at about 14:30, and we decided to head to the airport. We left downtown and managed to avoid the student protests, though we could hear them from the front of the hotel. Traffic was starting to pick up, so it took us while to get to the airport, about an hour or so. After paying the taxi driver ($50 fare from downtown), I proceeded to check in. The kiosk showed the same seat as available, 14D. That was it. I could have upgraded to Executive for $299, but I declined. The flight was about 3 hours… I think I can tolerate a 33” 2x2 economy seat for 3 hours.
I got in line to talk to agent, and asked about getting a window seat:
Agent: “Nothing open, but for $75 I can put you on the earlier flight that leaves in 30 minutes with a window seat. Interested?”
Me: “What type of plane is it?”
Agent: “Canadair CRJ-705… It’s nice.”
Me: “If it was anything else but a CRJ, I’d be all over that. No thanks…”
Agent: “Fair enough. You can check at the gate for a new seat, but the plane is showing very full.”
I truly despise CRJs, even the non CRJ100/CRJ200. I believe that CRJ stands for CRapJet, but Bombardier had to come up with a better marketing name. They are the most uncomfortable aircraft ever made. I will actively pick flights to avoid them. I hope they leave all fleets as soon as possible.
So, totally shot down on the window seat front, I grabbed some supper from Casey’s restaurant. I got the Thai Stir-fry, and it was pretty good. Not great, but good. The one beer ($10) I had cost almost as much as the meal ($16)!
About 2 hours before departure, I made my way through security to see if I could find something to buy for my kids. That was a mistake, as ALL of the good stores are in the non-restricted section of the airport. The selection of stores and items for sale was very disappointing once past security. Oh well… Next time, I know better.
I walked down to the Air Canada flights, which was in a different departure area than the WestJet flights. I saw A LOT of Q400s coming and going, all of them to Toronto City Centre. Interestingly, the gate areas for the flights didn’t have a lot of people waiting for the flights. I know that this is not a good way to gauge load factors for a flight, but a 70 seat plane usually has more than 10 people waiting in the gate area just before they start boarding.
I made my way to the gate, and talk to the gate agent about getting a window seat. He didn’t look up for the paper work he was doing and said, ‘No way. Plane is 100% full. If you’ve got a seat, that’s where you are sitting.’ Well, that was it. I resigned myself to the fact I was not going to be able to look out the window for the flight. I hope the IFE system is good and working!
I sat against a window and watched the departures leaving runway 26L. I saw a bunch Porter and Air Canada, and the Air France 777-300ER for Paris. Man do those GE90s make a rumble when they pass overhead!
Another Embraer 190 was sitting in the gate area, but was departing for Calgary. Once it left, another one pulled in. It was our flights, arriving from Halifax (YHZ). It was about 20 minutes late, so we would probably be late leaving.
They started boarding the aircraft at 18:30, which was putting the 18:45 departure in jeopardy. Once onboard, I begrudgingly took my aisle seat. I look over to person sitting in the window seat, hoping to make eye contact and ask her if she wanted to switch seats. She looked at me, and turned away to look out the window, giving me her back. “That’s a nice gesture” I thought. Oh well…
Sitting down in the seat, I was amazed at how comfortable the seats were. The cabin feels so spacious and airy! The windows are huge! The ceiling was tall, and the 33” seat pitch felt luxurious. If I ever find a couple billion dollars laying round, I’m going to build an airline based on the Embraer E-Jets for a fleet.
Once I acclimatized to the opulence of my seat, I turned my gaze to the IFE system. It worked, and it was beautiful. Movies, and TV shows, and a working moving map. I have died and gone to heaven. Since I couldn’t watch out the window, I threw on Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and proceeded to start watching it before we pushed back.
The plane left about 5 minutes early (not bad, considering how late everything was) and we taxied out to runway 26L. I couldn’t tell who was ahead us, but we had to wait for a few planes to take off. The plane turned on to the active runway, fired up to TO/GA thrust, and we were off.
The rest of the flight was uneventful. Drink and snack service was started (cookies and Diet Coke, svp), and another round was done about an hour later. At this point, I was totally enthralled by the large screened IFE. Once Mission Impossible finished, I started up Sherlock Holmes.
About 5 minutes into the Sherlock Holmes, we started our descent into Winnipeg. I always find the descents into Winnipeg very steep, and my ears pop every time. We approached the airport from the southeast, and proceeded to land on runway 31. From the large windows, I could clearly see the city lights below us as we traversed the city on final approach.
The fight arrived about 20 minutes late due to a late departure and some strong headwinds.
Overall, the service levels on the Air Canada were comparable to that of WestJet, but the seats and IFE were way, way better. I would DEFINITELY fly on an Air Canada Embraer again in a heartbeat.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pics of the airport in YUL or videos. I was with some colleagues from work, and we kept pretty busy passing the time at the airport.
My next flights are in a couple of weeks, when I fly to Hamilton(YHM) on WestJet to visit family and friends. I hope to get some more pics and vids, especially from YHM as I have never been there before.
I hope that you enjoyed my report. Please leave me some comments and feedback.
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