Hello everyone! A bit about this trip…
My family booked this trip to London Ontario to visit family and friends. The original plan was that we would all fly out together, and back, but unfortunately that didn’t work out. Since 2 (of 6) tickets were booked on Aeroplan, one of us had to take a different route there, via YVR and YOW, redeye. Who better than the anutter of the family?
This trip turned out to be very nice, with excellent flights (aside from one snag). I was even lucky enough to try out AC’s brand new AVOD PTV’s on their A320s. I am just writing the outward portion of this trip for now. I may do the return in the future. Hopefully you enjoy my trip report, and I will include the pics in a separate post, for ease’s sake. Please feel free to leave comments, questions and criticism!
AC Jazz 8080
August 25, 2006
Dash 8-300, C-FJFM, Seat 9F (window)
Since I arrived at YYJ quite early for my flight, I decided to switch to one an hour earlier, which wasn’t a problem (I was originally booked for 8082 at 21:00).
I got to the checkin desk, and the nice AC agent checked me in very quickly. I then went to YYJ’s observation deck, and sat there, expecting a rather routine experience at this airport. I was wrong… When I got there, I decided to look at my boarding passes a bit closer. My 2 passes for my 2nd and 3rd flights were fine, but my pass for YYJ-YVR had somebody else’s name on it! So, I went back to the checkin desk, but had to speak to another agent this time. She printed me my new pass, and everything seemed fine. Well, I look again, and my baggage receipt is still in the name of the other person! Back I go, and again, the lady fixes it, and claims that everything was normal, and that my bag would accompany me to YXU *cough*liar*cough*.
By this time, I was ready to go through security, so I got my stuff together and went through. Security was easy, and I didn’t even set off the alarm (!). I sit down and await my flight.
Boarding comes soon, and is done very quickly as usual. After the agent checks my boarding pass (they don’t rip it or anything at AC), I walk outside and board our waiting Dash 8. Since I have flown this route so many times, I didn’t really keep track of things on this flight, nor did I take pictures. I remember that I had 2 seats to myself, and the plane was about 75% full. We tookoff smoothly from YYJ’s runway 31, and lifted gracefully into the sky. We reached our cruise of 4000ft really quick, and as soon as I knew it, we had already started descending into YVR. After a short approach to runway 26R, we land nicely as the sun is starting to set. We taxied to the gate (B19) and everyone deboarded.
I waited on the tarmac for my carry-on bag (Jazz puts a cart out for Dash 8 flights, because of the lack of space inside the cabin). As soon as I got it, I walked inside the airport. The B pier wasn’t too busy at this time, and since there isn’t much to do and see there, I decided to scout out my gate in the C Pier (a good walk). I got up there, and was amazed at how busy it was! It seemed that there was an AC flight (A333) to LHR that was delayed. What I found weird was that the C Pier is almost exclusively used for domestic AC flights. I grabbed a bite to eat at one of the café’s and then started to walk around spotting. After a while, my plane pulled up to the gate. It was an A320 in new colours, but the best thing about it, was that the reg told me it was one of the planes with AVOD! I was really excited, because I have never used a PTV before. I sat down at my gate about an hour ahead of time and waited. With about 10 minutes to go until boarding, I got impatient and decided to walk around again. While I was walking, a French (French-French I think, not Quebecois) lady came running down the hall, looking quite distressed. I looked at her, and then she asked me to help. She showed me her boarding pass, and asked me to help her find her gate. She was going to JFK, but her flight was leaving in 15 minutes, from the US part of the C gates. We started running, and I showed her where to go (I couldn’t go in, because I was flying domestic). I wished her luck, but not optimistically. I hope she made her flight!
Time flew by after that, and soon it was time to board our aircraft! Since I was seated in 25F, I was one of the first to board, after pre-boards and Execs. The agent checked my boarding pass, and off I was, down the jetway!
23:05-6:40 (+1) Sched.
August 25, 2006
A320-200, C-FZUB, Seat 25F (window)
I was greeted at the door by a perky AC Flight Attendant. It always amazes me how they can be so awake at these odd hours. I turned the corner into the cabin, and was very pleased to see that this was in fact one of the few refurbished planes! The interior is very nice looking, with purple-blue seats. I got back to my seat, and sat down. I was happy that these seats were much more comfortable than the old green ones, albeit the lack of headrests. In front of me was my PTV, displaying the message “Welcome On Board” and the same in French.
Boarding took quite a while to complete, but eventually, my seatmates arrived, both young asian women. After boarding was completed, we were still sitting at the gate, and I hadn’t seen the FAs in some time. After about 20 minutes of this, and announcement was made that we were still waiting for the lead Flight Attendant, who was late on account of “scheduling confusion”. About 15 more minutes passed, until finally the FA got onboard the plane. She made an apologetic announcement; it turns out she had been in N. Vancouver at her mothers birthday party… She then announced that because of the delay, alcoholic drinks would be free of charge. She also informed passengers about how to operate their PTVs and that they would be turned on once the seatbelt sign was off, after takeoff. Shortly after that, the FAs started a manual safety demonstration. I guess the PTVs cant do this(?) Finally, after about a 45 minute delay, we pushed back from the gate.
We started our taxi, and the captain came on and announced details about our flight. He said that we would be cruising at an altitude of 33000ft, and that we would try to make most of the delay up in the air. He also told us that it was expected to be smooth most of the way.
After a fairly long taxi, we arrived at runway 26R, and without stopping, started our roll down the runway. The engines whined, and we were given a very mediocre push (I guess on account of the full load, and the length of the flight). The takeoff seemed to last forever, but when we finally did rotate, we climbed quite quickly for the first couple seconds. Shortly after takeoff, we banked left and did a 180 in the air. The flaps came up shortly after that, and before I knew it, the seatbelt sign was off.
The flight attendants were up, and made various announcements about the service of the flight. Right after that, the PTVs were turned on. I fiddled with my PTV for a little while, just to get a feel for how it works. It turned out to be very intuitive, and I didn’t encounter any problems the whole time. I tried to settle on a movie to watch (of a huge selection), and finally settled on “Lucky Number Slevin”. I watched the movie for about 20 minutes, and it really wasn’t interesting me, so I turned it off, and took a look at the selection of music. The selection was good, but I didn’t think the sound quality was that great, with either my own headphones, or AC ones. To their credit though, it is nice that the headphone jack is single pronged, for normal headphones. I listened to most of the Red Hot Chili Peppers “Stadium Arcadium” album, which I thought was not bad. After that, I looked at the different TV shows you could watch, and I chose CSI, and watched one episode of that.
In this time, the flight attendants had already come around with drinks, and the buy-on-board snack cart. I declined to buy food (there weren’t many people that did), but I did get a drink of apple juice. Right about when CSI finished, we started encountering some minor bumps. The seatbelt sign was turned on for about 20 minutes, but it smoothed out very quickly. I decided to look for another movie, and decided this time on “Thank You For Smoking”. I found this movie very funny, and an overall enjoyable, ironic film. Not what I was expecting, but definitely recommended.
After the movie was over, I browsed the music again, since both the games, and the moving map were not working. Both my seatmates woke up just around the time the sun was starting to rise. I thought this was a good time to get up, since we were about an hour out of Ottawa now. I went back to the lav, just as we were starting to hit some more minor turbulence (this happens to me everytime I decide to use the bathroom in flight…). I got back to my seat, and took some pictures in the nice morning light. As soon as I knew it, we started our descent towards the nation’s capital.
The captain came on again, and said good morning to everyone. He told us that we would be arriving only about 25 minutes late, and that the weather was clear, but a bit chilly in Ottawa. He also said that the flight attendants would announce connection info once we were on the ground. After his announcement, the seatbelt sign was turned on.
After a long descent, finally we were at quite a low altitude, and the flaps came part way down. I sat back and watched the scenery, which was looked very flat, especially to a person from BC. We flew for quite a while with the flaps part-way, until eventually they were lowered completely, and so did the gear. We had a smooth approach into the airport, but we touched down pretty hard on the runway. Well, at least the first touch down was hard, the second one wasn’t that bad . We also stopped quite hard, and everyone was pushed forward in their seats. Finally, we turned off the runway, and the FA’s welcomed us to Ottawa.
It took a long while to taxi to the gate, but in that time, the FA’s announced connection info to cities such as Halifax, Toronto, Montreal and St. Johns. London was not called, because I had plenty of time. We arrived at the gate (which number I forget). I stayed seated until most people had got off, because many had tight connections. I deboarded with my carry-on from the overhead bin, and said thanks to the smiling FAs at the door.
Entering the terminal in Ottawa, I was pleasantly surprised. It was very (VERY) roomy, and attractively designed. The only thing I didn’t like was that it was extremely cold inside, at least for me! I wished I had my coat! I walked around for a while, and got my bearings. It was also very easy to navigate. I got myself a coffee (where else but Timmie’s, when in the capital of Canada?), and sat down to spot for a while. After this, I wandered around for some time, and had a couple snacks, instead of a proper breakfast (because not much was open).
For most of the time I was in YOW, I just spotted. It seemed to me that AC dominated at this airport, with countless movements, compared to just 2 that I saw by WestJet in almost 3 hours (YYC and YYZ). I also saw lots of new E-jets here, which I never see at home or in YVR. The only other airlines I saw besides AC and WS were AirNorth and UAL Shuttle.
After killing time for quite a while, I headed over to my gate, which was in a separate area from most departures. I sat down there, looking out the window, until the very nice boarding agent came over and struck up a conversation. We talked for what must have been about 20 minutes, about various things, mostly aviation. She also told me we’d be a bit delayed, because the aircraft was arriving slightly late from YUL (a continuing flight to YXU IIRC). If someone at AC is reading, I think that the attitude of this staff member was outstanding, and it really enhances the experience when service on the ground is so friendly and personal.
After we finished chatting, the agent went to the desk, and started preparing to board the flight. After sitting for a while longer, on the verge of sleep (the tiredness really hit me at this point), the flight was called. I was second at the desk, and the agent wished me a good trip and a safe flight. I wish I had got her name to put a good word in with AC. I walked down a long pathway and ramp, and out onto the tarmac. This was the first time I had been outside at YOW, and I was surprised that it was in fact really chilly out (for August). I put my bag on the “Skycheck” cart outside the aircraft, and boarded.
August 26, 2006
Dash 8-300, (didn’t get reg.), Seat 3A (window)
I entered the aircraft, and was greeted by our Quebecois flight attendant. This Dash 8 was one of the more tattered ones I had been on, and was not very clean. I got comfortable in my favourite seat, 3A (the aisle was empty). Boarding was done very fast, especially because I think there were already pax on board from YUL, and the load was less than half. The flight attendant did the safety, and announcements, and soon enough we started our taxi. In short time, we got to the runway, and had a short wait while an AC E-jet landed. We turned onto the runway, and held, until we started our takeoff roll. Of all my times on the Dash 8, this was the weakest takeoff I had felt. It seemed to take forever to get off the runway, and when we did, we climbed very, very slowly. We took a hard left turn, and I was able to see the city of Ottawa, the Ottawa River, and eventually the airport. After I took some quick pics, I settled in for the flight, and again was in between sleep and awareness.
Again, I do not remember too much about this flight, as I was zoned out pretty much the whole time. I did get a drink, but no snack. As we started our descent, I got up to use the bathroom, my first time on the Dash 8. I was surprised actually that the lav was bigger than I expected. When I got back to my seat, I just looked out the window for the remainder of the flight. There wasn’t much to see outside, as it was very hazy. Our approach seemed very long, but I caught a glimpse of YXU before we turned final, and the gear was lowered. We came in over a small lake, and disrupted a very large flock of geese below us. We landed smoothly on the runway, but stopped very hard yet again, with a good shot of reverse from the engines. Right after we turned off of the runway, one of the engines was shut off (#2 IIRC), and we taxied to the gate. We parked, and the door was opened, but we had to wait quite a while until we were let off. As I stepped out of the plane, I was stunned by how humid the air was here! I simply wasn’t used to that, and it was weird breathing for the first couple mintutes. My carry-on bag was brought out on the cart, and I walked into the terminal.
My first impression of YXU was that it was very stark. Most of the building was bland inside, especially in the baggage claim area. I was met by my uncle (who I had actually not seen since I was two) and my younger cousin. It took ages for the bags to start shooting out onto the carousel, but *surprise*, my bag wasn’t among them! An AC agent saw us standing there, and invited us into the baggage office. She took my flight info, and typed on the computer for a while. I was given a Baggage Claim File Number, and was ensured that the bag would get to me sometime that day, tomorrow at the latest. Well folks, I received my bag 5 DAYS AFTER!!! It turns out that the problems I encountered in YYJ had caused this, and my bag was sitting in Ottawa for 5 days…
So that’s the written part of my report, the pictures will be posted below. Overall, I was very very pleased with how this trip had gone, except of course for the lost bag. Again, any comments, questions and criticism are welcome!
[Edited 2006-09-10 05:57:50]
[Edited 2006-09-10 06:00:51]