On Thursday April 5th I drove out to Edmonton International Airport at about 08:15 to begin my day long journey to Bangkok, Thailand with my friend Larry. We both work for Air Canada as station attendants and we were flying as employee stand bys for the trip.
The first flight was Air Canada 1873 at 09:30 a Bae 146 of Air BC to Vancouver. We were given seats in business class. The flight was about 1h 20min giving us an arrival time in Vancouver of 09:50 and so lots of time to kill before the 1315 departure time of AC 003 to Tokyo. We had a bite to eat and then went thru to the international boarding lounge area. I walking around watching the loading of 2 Cathay Pacific 747's one to JFK the other to Hong Kong, a China Airlines 747 to Taipei, a Singapore A340 to Seoul and Singapore, and numerous AC 747's and A340's to HKG, Nagoya, Osaka etc.
Finally it came time to start the boarding process for AC 003 to Narita operated by A340 C-FYLG. I had a window seat which afforded me a great view of the dormant volcanoes on Russia's Kamchatka peninsula and of northern Japan. We arrived in Tokyo and I strained to try and see all the exotic widebodies on the ground, I say exotic because in Edmonton we don't get much interesting aircraft coming through other than the odd Fedex MD11 charter flight. We were about 25min. late. This created a bit of a problem for Larry and I as we had to clear customs and make it over to Terminal 1 to catch United 875 departing at 1650 to Bangkok, I really wanted to make it on this flight as it was a 777 and I had never been on one. We made it to the United check in at 1635, but they said we were too late! I was gutted! We would have to go back to Terminal 2 and catch Thai airways flight 773 at 1910.
This we did and had a nice flight on 747 400 HS-TGR, although I slept most of the flight. As we touched down at Don Muang airport an east indian gentleman started a round of applause which I think was a little premature as a few seconds later the pilot hammered on the brakes and it was the most violent stop I have ever experienced!
After 12 fun filled days in Bangkok which included the Thai New Year festival Song Khran, we set our alarm to wake us up at 0400 so we could get to Don Muang in time to catch United 876 to Tokyo at 0730. Needless to say we slept through the alarm and awoke at 0545! We ran around getting ready and jumped in a taxi for the 1/2 hour trip to the airport. We rushed to the United checkin counters at 0650 only to be told that the flight was full! again I was not able to fly on a 777. We ran down to the Thai Airways staff checkin and kindly asked the agent if it was too late to try for flight 773 to Tokyo which continues on th LAX. She quckly went to work checking us in and gave us our boarding cards and told us to hurry to gate 12. We had to get through passport control first and there was a bit of a line up. So I worked my charm by explaining our rush to the people ahead of us in line and they all kindly let us go in front of them which renewed my faith in mankind. We made it on board 747 400 HS-TGZ with about 10 minutes to spare. I had a window seat and watched as the United 777 operating UA876 taxied to the runway without me. During the flight I was able to see another Thai 747 pass us going in the opposite direction, it was about a mile off our starboard wing and maybe 2000' below. We arrived at Narita a few minutes early and again I watched eagerly as we taxied past numerous 747's, 777's etc.
We spent six days in Tokyo sightseeing. It is a great city, clean and organized but very expensive.
On Sunday April 22 at abot 1400 we caught the Keisei Limited Express train at Nippori station and headed back to Narita. We checked our bags in and then headed to gate C81 for Air Canada flight 004 to Vancouver which was operated by A340 C-FYLG, the same aircraft we had come over on. I had another window seat but there wasn't much to see as it was dark most of the way and on arrival Vancouver was very overcast. We arrived at YVR at 0915, 45 minutes early! so the same headwind that had delayed our outbound flight on April 5th continued and gave us a tailwind for our westbound trip across the Pacific.
After a couple of hours at YVR airport we just made it on AC 1874 an AIR BC Bae 146 to Edmonton, we're stand bys don't forget. I had a window seat in business class and Larry was in economy. After an hour and twenty minutes we were home at last.
From Dr. King's America to Nelson Mandela's Africa, the journey of equality moves on.