On February 21 I was going on a trip to Ottawa, Ontario to attend these seminars on Parliament Hill to learn about the Canadian Government. The plane ticket was booked by the people who run the seminars. I was booked with this person who I've never even heard of named Rachel. There were many others from BC going to this conference. However, most of them left on an AC A320 to YOW at 9:00 am. But I couldn't get on that flight because my ticket was booked a little too late, so I had to go on Westjet. That's too bad because I was hoping I could get some AC points. Anyways, I was not really looking forward to Westjet, mainly because they're on 737's (I've been on plenty of them) and there's no full meal service. So this is what my trip was like:
At 9 am, my dad drove me to YVR. We parked in the economy lot, took a luggage cart, and put my stuff on it. We began the long walk to the Westjet check in counter.
Saturday, February 21, 2004
We finally reached the Westjet ticket counter in YVR's beautiful renovated domestic terminal. Immediately, my dad rushed to the Westjet "Touch n Go" kiosks, but I stopped him saying that they're only for people with only carry - ons. So then we lined up at the check in counter, and my dad didn't seem to happy about waiting. But while waiting in the line up time passed by fast. I tried looking to see if I could find Rachel, but she was not in sight. Finally an agent was ready for me. I pulled my bag towards the counter and while I was doing that I knocked over the metal pole. Check in went by really fast. All I did was give my e ticket and my bag. She checked my bag all the way to YOW and she put a Westjet "heavy" tag on it. My dad wanted to go with me to the gate but he didn't have any Photo ID on him; his credit cards weren't good enough.
Since we had some time to kill, we walked around YVR together. We walked through the domestic terminal, and into the international terminal. Lots of activity was going on there, as lots of people were checking in for the Asian departures. The AC international check in had such a long lineup! Korean Airlines also had a long line up. We then walked into the US departures area and into the Fairmont. Then it was time to go back to the domestic terminal. When we reached the security checkpoint my dad and I said goodbye, and he left. There was hardly any line up at the security checkpoint. I went through the metal detector without any beeping. I then walked to the gate, which was B21. There, I took a few photos from the terminal window of a few planes taxiing to the runway. Many of the people there were staring at me since I was a young person traveling alone and I was taking photos of planes. My plane wasn't even in Vancouver when I was waiting in the departures lounge. Then out of nowhere about 15 minutes prior to boarding this Westjet 737-700 came in from Winnipeg. Bags were quickly removed from the plane and put in and the plane was quickly refulled. Finally the boarding call came. My seat was 8F. I would be sitting beside Rachel. I walked into the plane wondering what the Westjet interior was exactly going to be like. When I entered the plane, I was happy to see leather seats. I put my carry - on into the overhead bin and sat down at my window seat. Rachel still wasn't there. But pretty soon she did came and we chatted for a bit. Pushback soon came. The plane began taxiing to the south runway. We were quickly cleared for takeoff and the plane smoothly lifted off. Within seconds we were above the clouds since it was a cloudy Vancouver day.
Shortly after takeoff the Flight attendants came around with snacks. It was a choice of either snack mix or so called "cookies". I chose cookies. However, they were really just two tiny biscuits! After snacks were handed out, the FA's came around taking orders for drinks. I got two glasses of water and a ginger ale. It took such a long time for the FA to make the drinks! Finally I got it. For the rest of the flight I did homework (I was missing school going on this trip) and Rachel was doing her crosswords. The ride was very smooth; zero turbulence and the 737 was really comfortable. Finally the plane began its decent into Winnipeg. It was a snowy day in Winnipeg. The plane landed quickly. There were hardly any planes at the ramp, except for some ZIP 737's. I think I saw the Christmas ZIP plane too! The plane arrived at the gate and about half of the passengers left the plane, and the others stayed onboard for the continuing flight to London, Ontario.
Now I had 4 hours to kill in Winnipeg. Rachel and I sat by out next gate once we got off the plane. I got bored quickly so I just left my bags with Rachel and walked around. There was a lot of action going on in the AC area of the terminal. There was this flight going somewhere in Cuba (Varadero?)! I had no idea that AC flew to Cuba from YWG! I soon got back to Rachel and we went together to the Second Cup there. We sat there about three hours. I was doing my homework and drinking a hot chocolate while Rachel was doing her crosswords. About an hour and a half before departure, Rachel and I went back to the gate again. Rachel watched COPS and Seinfeld there, while I was just sitting and staring at people in the arrivals hall claiming their baggage. When I was looking outside in the window, I noticed this plane landing. Right away I thought it would be the plane that would take me to Ottawa. And I was right! A beautiful 737-700 with winglets pulled into the gate, and passengers came out. For some reason, the passengers were wearing shorts and t-shirts, and those Mexican hats! I soon figured out it just came from somewhere in Mexico as a charter flight. The aircraft was quickly refilled, cargo put in and out of the plane, and Rachel and I boarded! When I was boarding the plane I could see the LCD screens in the plane's cockpit. They looked really interesting at night, and the 737 thus looked so advanced.
Saturday February 21, 2004
The plane had hardly any passengers. Only 1/4 of the plane was full. Soon after boarding the plane took off and we were on our way to Ottawa! There were really nice views of Winnipeg when the plane was taking off. Once we reached 41,000 feet I noticed a light in the distance. The captain announced that it was actually the Northern Lights. It didn't look that great, however; it just seemed like "regular" light. Again, snacks and drinks were handed out. This time I chose Diet Coke and snack mix. I actually asked for a few snack mixes since the flight wasn't full. Throughout the flight, we flew over some little towns. I wonder which towns they were. Initially I though they were Thunder Bay and stuffier, but when I think about it they were so small that they couldn't have been those towns. For the rest of the flight I just sat at my seat and stared at the 737's winkled. Finally it was time to descent into Ottawa. The captain said that it was snowing in Ottawa! While the plane was descending I could see ice crystals moving sideways in the direction opposite of the plane's. Ottawa was very foggy, and then all of a sudden this highway came into view and witting seconds the plane landed. I was amazed by the amount of snow there was, because at home in Vancouver it hardly snows! The plane quickly arrived at the gate and we got out of the plane. I loved the feeling of landing in Ottawa! The airport was pretty dead: not a person in sight besides the people who arrived on the flight. We walked past the waterfall and down to the baggage claim area. The person meeting me was holding up a sign and Rachel and I then went to meet her.
After a night of partying and staying up until 4am it was time to go back home to Vancouver. It was a really sad day, as I had lots of fun and I didn't want to go back to my "normal" life. So on Saturday February 28 the people from the conference with afternoon flights boarded a bus to the airport. Everyone then got off and went to the check in counters. Everybody was flying AC direct home, except me and Rachel. Only was check in agent was at the egotist check in, and Rachel and I were the only people at the check in area. However, the AC line, with all those people from the conference returning home, was packed. After everybody checked in we all met up. All of us did not have lunch and we had a lot of time to kill before our flights. The counselor said that the conference covers the cost of food at the airport, so we all went to choose our restaurant. Everybody began to go to the Tim Hortons and Harveys, but I walked towards the Rideau Grill restaurant. I convinced the counselor to pay for the food, even though it was a little more expensive than Tim Hortons. When the counselor agreed, everybody but Rachel and another person came to join me. We got a huge table, and ordered our drinks and food. We just chatted for the time being, and I was looking at the planes through the window. Nothing exciting; just an AC A319 and a few Westjet 737-200's. Everybody happily ate, and then it was time to leave. Rachel and I said bye and proceeded to security. When I presented our Westjet boarding passes to the security agent, she gave me a funny look since Rachel's boarding pass was in the front. But then I clarified it and we smoothly went through security. We quickly went to the gate. There, we lied down on the leather couches the airport had and slept for 2 hours; we were tired because of the late night.
Saturday February 28, 2004
BRAND NEW 737!!!
When Rachel and I woke up it was time to board the plane. We rushed to the gate and got into the plane. It seemed to take a while for everyone to take their seat and settle down. I noticed there were lots of teenagers my age also onboard the plane. I figured they were from this youth camp in Ottawa called Encounters that always sends people on Westjet. Encounters tends to have younger teenagers who are louder, whereas my conference tends to have much older people (16,17,18) who are more mature. I didn't really like having them around since they were so loud. In fact, they interrupted the flight attendant saying "YEAH! WE'RE GOING TO VANCOUVER!" So after everyone got settled the plane taxied to the runway. An American Eagle Embraer jet took off in front of us. Shortly after the Embraer's take off, our plane took off. There was a magnificent view of Ottawa from the plane, including the Ottawa River. After we reached our cruising altitude of 41,000 feet the usual snacks and drinks were handed out. I had snack mix and Diet Coke this time. After the drinks and snacks, I got out my homework and worked on it for the rest of the flight. The view from the Window was beautiful since you could see the sun setting in the west. Towards the end of the flight the plane slowly descended and we shortly landed in Calgary in the dark. When the plane was taxiing to the gate, guess what I saw? I saw the UA 737 in the NEW LIVERY parked at the ramp! Unfortunately my camera battery died and I couldn't take pictures.
In Calgary, after I got out, I went to Tim Hortons to get something to eat. Those teenagers were there making the whole terminal noisy. So after getting the food I went to the gate. There, I dropped my wallet and coins came out everywhere! Everybody in the terminal was looking at me, so I was very embarrassed.
The old 737-200 pulled into the gate, passengers went out, and within ten minutes we were in the aircraft. The 737-200 was very different from the 737-700's I had been flying earlier; there were ugly cloth seats, the overhead bins looked different, and the plane looked much darker than the 737-700's at night. However, the back of the plane did seem somewhat more spacious on the 737-200. I watched the cross check being performed, and after the maintenance technician jumped happily after the cross - check we were on our way to YVR. The plane had a fast, and very steep take - off. The plane seemed to be flying way more faster than the 737-700. However, I know the 737-700 flies just as fast or even faster; its just that the engines of the 737-200 have to work harder to travel fast, whereas the 700's engines don't have to since they are newer technology. This time on the plane those teenagers were sitting directly behind me. The constant non - stop chatter was so annoying. Throughout the flight, Rachel and I talked to this lady sitting beside us from Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia who was visiting her son who is a university student in Vancouver. Rachel slept for most of the flight, whereas I just stared out the window. After less than an hour the plane began to descend into Vancouver. I tried identifying the areas we were flying over, but it was hard since it was at night. What happened was this large, unknown area came into sight (does anybody know what area?), and then we flew more, I then saw the Burrard Inlet and Downtown Vancouver/Stanley park, then the plane turned and UBC was in sight, and the plane turned again and we were parallel with the north runway. The smoothly landed from the west side onto the north runway. The plane passed by the US terminal and the international terminal. It felt great seeing a nice, big airport again. At the ramp, I saw a UA 757, Philippine Airlines A343, Eva Air 744, and others I can't remember. The plane arrived at the gate. However, it took ages for the plane door to be opened. Finally it was opened and everybody got off the plane and down to the luggage claim area. There, my dad was waiting and we then claimed my baggage. I was finally home!
I didn't really mind my Westjet experience: it was so - so. I didn't like how you have to connect more with Westjet and how you don't get full, free meals. I also didn't like how slow the FA's were to make and give out drinks. It's too bad I got ZERO mileage from these Westjet flights. In conclusion, I prefer Air Canada over Westjet due to the latter reasons. I will always try and fly Air Canada first. But, unfortunately, I didn't have any choice but to fly Westjet.