Having an uncle who lives in Canada, I've heard from him many times how great Air Canada is. Well I finally got to find out for myself when a businees trip sent me Alberta Canada. I arrived at Baltimore-Washington International two hours before my scheduled departure, I think it was a 11am flight. I pretty much had the whole international terminal to myself during the whole two hours, it was empty, save a 757 Columbus bound America West flight, that was using the International wing. BWI's international terminal is a a beautiful facility, that has a lot going for it. One, it's pretty much brand new, two, since BWI really doesn't have too many international flights it's never busy. This to is a drawback, if you're spotting there isn't much to see, or if you live in the area, and are a frequent international traveller there are a limited amount of flights. The regular international carriers to BWI are British Airways, AerLingus, Icelandair, Air Jamaica and Air Canada. Luckily for me I live an equal distance from Dulles (IAD), and BWI, thus I have options.
On to my flight..after an uneventful two hours our plane arrives on time It's a small turbo-prop Dehavilland Dash-8, that's going to take us across the border to Toronto, where I'll connect to Calgary. Boarding was quick and efficient, and we were cleared for takeoff immediately. The ride was smooth, and uneventful. We were served a light lunch that consisted of cheese, crackers, deli meat, a cookie, and fruit, it was quite tasty, and more than I expected for such a short flight, on a small plane. I guess the highlight of this leg was flying over Niagra Falls. The view though was limited to the right side of the aircraft, and since I was in a window seat on the left, I missed out on the view.
We arrive in Toronto(YYZ). Immediately I'm impressed by the size of the airport. It's huge. We end up taxiing for what seems like an eternity and eventually dock at a satellite terminal, where we all have to catch a bus to the main terminal. After riding the bus to the main terminal I clear customs, and proceed to walk what seems like a mile to my terminal for my flight to Calgary. Now it's time for the part of the trip I've been looking forward to- my first Airbus flight. For this segment it's a 320. We board on time, and my 1st impression is hey, this is a 737. Cosmetically it looks like one on the inside, but one thing that really impresses me is how quiet the ride is, even during takeoff- not that 737's are terribly loud, but the Airbus was even quieter. For someone who's flown on a lot of loud MD-80's I can really appreciate a quiet plane. The flight is full, and as usual I'm in coach, and for coach I can't complain too much. I'm a tall guy, and leg room is adequate, and seat comfort seems good. As we level off at cruising altitude, dinner is served. The choices are some beef dish, or lasagna. I go for the lasagna. It comes with salad, bread, and dessert. The lasagna is nice and warm, and it actually is very tasty. After dinner the monitors are lowered, and the inflight entertainment begins. We get to watch the "Perfect Storm" a movie I've already seen, but liked enough that I didn't mind watching again. As an added perk the headphones we're free. Some of our domestic carriers should take note of this. It's a nice touch, that I'm sure could help airlines in winning over loyal customers.
By the time the movie ends it's time to prepare for our landing. As we descend through the clouds, we get a great view of the Calgary skyline, and in no time at all we're on the ground. As much as I hated the Toronto airport I love the Calgary one. I'm not a fan of big airports. For all their size, and excitement, I prefer smaller airports. The Calgary airport is a dream to manuever through, and in no time at all I'm at the rental car counter.
All in all I would give Air Canada an enthusiastic thumbs up. My flight back to BWI, like my flight out was a positive experience- clean planes, on time departures, and good service. The only gripe I have is flying through Toronto. Once on the ground we had to taxi forever to the satellite terminal, and it's quite a hike from there to the main terminal. Since my flight was a business flight price wasn't much of an issue, but I did hear some grumblings from some of the Canadian passengers on board. Apparently Air Canada has somewhat of a monopoly on flights in that country. They bought out their chief rival Canadian Airlines, and our pretty much the only player in that country. Because of this I heard their flights are a little pricey. Don't know if this is true, but it's what people were telling me.