Trip report YUL-YYZ-YUL
AC401 767-200 Fin 601 Seat 13A (window)
AC416 767-300 Fin CP-638 Seat 32K (window)
Departure time was 7am, a God awful time to leave for Toronto. With a one hour in advance check in time that meant I had to be on the road at 5:30.. and thus up and out of bed by 5am at the latest.. It was dark damp and cold and I was barely awake when I finished my second piece of toast and walked out the front door. The traffic along the Met was surprisingly lighter than I thought it would be a 5:45.. I breezed to Dorval in about 20 minutes... noting that it was something that would have been impossible to do had it been Mirabel.
The one-day parking lot was practically empty so I easily found a spot close to the parking garage out where the rental car location is. I headed for the terminal and the Air Canada computerized check in kiosks.. Armed with an E-Ticket the boarding card processing was simple with a few glitches.. A nice feature is the computer recognizes your flight automatically with your booking reference number. The hard part was clearly reading my travel agent's hand writing which had replaced the original computer print out. Once I figured out the correct alphanumeric number the last thing to do was select a new seat.
I generally like window seats when flying. I don't really know why except that I suppose I totally enjoy looking down on the clouds and the highways, buildings, fields, rivers and lakes below. It kinda makes flying all the more real to me. I had a window seat selected already but I prefer flying up in front of the wing because the engine noise is lower and on 767s that is an issue for me. Air Canada's 767s often sound like old trucks on take off and in winter the noise is somehow amplified. Anyhow I selected 13A.. a mistake. No, not because of number "13", I am not suspicious, but because it turns out 13A is a seat next to a fuselage framing rib and there is no window.. so I had no window when I arrived at my seat, just a nice blank wall panel. A point for Air Canada that in future they may consider showing the wings and these features on their seat selection screens so we don't end up with these surprises.. Anyways, not a problem, I had a bit of a view from the window in the seat in front of me and I was so tired I slept most of the way anyway,
Boarding was itself was standard. Gate 1D. Security was been routine. The aircraft was pretty full, if not totally. I did inquire with another gate agent if it was necessary to have a coupon with my boarding pass as the kiosk screen suggested I have one with my e-ticket.. and my booking confirmation page also had a note suggesting an actual e-ticket would be sent by fax but it never arrived in time before I left the office on Friday. The agent looked at me like I was nuts and gave me a cold "of course not"... I just walked away and said nothing... typical Air Canada but why comment, it was too early in the morning. This turned out to be my only, and very minor if not completely insignificant irritant.
The 767 was fin 601 which I presume was Air Canada's first Boeing 767-200.. although I am only assuming. The huge jet pulled out on schedule and headed over to runway 06 Right.. a Dash-8 was before us and then we lined up and roared down the runway, pulling up towards the cloudy skies. In no time we reached cruising level and the view was of the sunrise (from the window in row 14A and of clouds in row 12A).. I nodded off after thumbing through the January issue of En Route magazine... a Nice article on Shanghai in this months copy...quite an impressive city.
In flight service was Air Canada standard. Everyone was friendly. The flight crew in our section was entirely francophone and very professional. A tray of muffins and brioches were served.. I picked a blueberry muffin.. and a Second Cup Encata (?) blend coffee was served. The muffin was very dry so I left it..(Ah, thinking back to Royal Airline's deliciously fresh Tim Horton's muffins... the good old days) the coffee was horrible but I drank it... needed the caffeine.
We arrived at Pearson 20 minutes early! How's that, a big improvement over my pre Christmas flights that were all delayed. The landing was very smooth. The only trouble was when we got to our gate at Terminal two there were no ground crew to guide the aircraft into the gate.. we waited about 10-15 minutes for some guys to come. No big deal.
Nothing special again at Pearson.. It seems I never or rarely see foreign airlines at Toronto anymore. What ever happened to BWIA, LOT, Czech, Aeroflot, United, Delta... I always see CRJ or ERJs, Northwest or American and often British Airways or KLM but that's about it.. Montreal sometimes seems more impressive. When I was leaving YUL Mexicana's 757 was at the international pier. And Air Canada had it's usual morning line up of 767 and A330s. T2 also had it's usual row of 767s, A330s and A320/319s. The good old DC-9s were now history
.. and the 737s becoming rare.
Since this was a one day trip I had no booked luggage so I was out of the terminal in about 5-10 minutes.. then into a car and off to the office in no time.. Throughout the day it became increasingly apparent I'd have to stay an extra day... no luggage meant no extra clothes, no toothbrush or toothpaste, shaving gear or what have you.. well I was promised all this an at least some new underwear... but in the end and a lot of extended talk then supper, the hotel ended up providing most of the toiletries and there was no new underwear to be found.. the rest was up to me. It was 11pm and I knew what I had on was what I would be wearing the next day. I guess I learn from this for future one day trips... bring spares in my briefcase or laptop. I tried at least re-ironing my shirt in my room but of all things the iron caught fire!.. smoke billowed out and an orange flame or element sparkled though the base as it made all sorts of unusual crackling sounds.. I yanked the plug and put it in the bathroom hoping the smoke detector didn't go off.. it didn't. I was looking forward to going home at this point. Before falling asleep I got a brief look at a whole slew of TV channels I never get at home.. ah.. an English speaking city offers an anglophone so much more in my language.,, but hey, there was a lot of garbage on there too. I must go for quality and from that angle there wasn't much more than what I get at home in English and French.
The next day was a waste from a business perspective. We wrapped up around 9:30 or 10am and did a lot of blah blah blah for 2.1/2 hours before heading out to lunch for more blah blah blah. Finally at 2pm I called Air Canada to try and rebook my e-ticket. I was told the wait on the telephone would be 10 minutes so I stayed on the phone and tried to go online.. It turns out I had never registered online so I began the process.. Well that took the 10 minutes and just as I was finishing registering the operator came on and rebooked me on a 3pm flight...That was now about 40 minutes away and I was 15-20 minutes from the airport. I told my boss I had to rush and he agreed to take me so we both finally got ourselves out of the pointless blah blah blah sessions, thanked our US and Dutch colleagues and left. The previous day had been very useful but I questioned my need to stay over. He dropped me off at T2, I had about 20 minutes to catch my flight. He was leaving on the 4pm flight so he left to return the car and we said our good byes.
I rushed to the AC kiosk and went through the steps knowing I had very little time. The terminal was quiet at that hour. The kiosk spitted out a boarding card saying I must see an agent.. I guess because I was too close to departure time. A very friendly and polite AC agent monitoring the kiosks suggested I go straight through security and to the Rapidair counter to book in.. Security was the same as Montreal.. the standard metal detector and me opening up and turning on my laptop.. My beeper set of the metal detector.. I rushed over to the counter while at the same time an announcement came on making the last call for AC416 to Montreal.. I was third in line. I got up quite quickly and immediately said that call was for my flight. She booked me in right away and was given seat 32A. The answer was "no don't worry about it" when I asked if I was too late or was going to miss the plane. The jet was at gate 221 (?).. I got there in no time seeing it was close by. No problem.. The 767-300, ex Canadian Airlines jet was sitting there with other people still onboard putting their bags overhead. This was not a full flight. I had two seats to myself again. Most of the rear cabin's center aisle was empty with about 60-65% of the side aisle filled up.
Lots of room for luggage and the royal blue CP seats were far more comfortable than Air Canada's rock hard Grey-green seats they use as AC standard. Legroom was the same, very good and no trouble. CP had higher luggage bins in the center aisle giving the 767 a more roomier feel although the basic ceiling luggage bins structures are 767 ugly. Boeing has apparently remodeled the 767-400 on the 777 interior and I wish Air Canada would update their 767s to that too. However the 767-300 is one of my favorite planes overall and I wasn't complaining.. CP had more or a solid cream colour wall paneling (to Air Canada's speckled brown (or gray?) on cream) which also made the interior clean and open. The jet was about 60% full. The jet's fuller size though give the overall flying experience a solid and powerful feel. I was looking forward to it.
We pulled out on time! A beautiful British Airways 777 with the Chelsea Rose tail landed as we waited. I could see an Air Canada 747-400 at Terminal one as well. Take off was routine with another Dash-8 landing before us. It was a windy day yet the jet made a relatively smooth wide sweeping turn back east towards Montreal once airborne. The flight took about 30-40 minutes! Amazing. At one point the engines became extremely loud.. to the point that I stopped and made a point of it.. I think we were cruising at our fastest at that point. They later became almost dead quiet. The 767 is the only aircraft I really notice this except maybe for the A330 which tends to do the same thing. It might also be that I am more aware of this when seated at the rear of the jet which I rarely do. Onboard service was headsets for the news, a spicy Clamato juice and pretzels in a plastic bag... plus a smile from the two flight attendants.. Not much but more than on other airlines for such a short flight.
The view outside was mostly clouds but the flap movements during the fight grabbed a lot of my attention for some reason. They seemed to continually change their positions throughout the short flight. Landing was on 24L and was smooth despite coming out of the clouds at the last moment.. We rolled up to the gate before 4pm!! That means we left at 3pm or later and actually rolled to the gate in Montreal before 4 or exactly at 4pm.. so the flight had made excellent time. The outbound flight was scheduled for 1:23 hours by comparison. Swissair's A330-200, Egyptair's 777 and a couple of Air Canada jets, an A330-300 and a 767-300 were sitting at nearby gates. Again there was no ground crew ready to guide us in.. so another 5-10 minute wait.. then I was off and out of the terminal in about 3 minutes. The domestic pier was quite busy. I was in my car in about 6 minutes and on the Met heading east shortly afterwards.. traffic was chaos as always. What a breeze overall though... a pleasant change!
All in all an excellent round this time. Both flights on time and both arriving ahead of schedule. Bravo! Good service on board. Recommendations to Air Canada.. alter the kiosks to show which seats are over the wings and which ones are by the exit or by ribs where there are no real windows. Who knows maybe it said these things but I just ignored or never saw them. I don't remember seeing them anyhow. Also, use the CP seats, they are more comfortable.. being softer and better for resting your head. Although I guess the ground crew isn't obliged to be at their posts ahead of schedule, it certainly would have been beneficial to the passengers had they been prepared for the jet when it actually showed up. Maybe there is union rules on this or something. However, who can complain when you flight comes in early? I wish it happened all the time. But AC came through with flying colours this time, on all accounts. Oh, and bring some basic necessities just in case.