...After a good conference, time to be heading back. There was enough time to get in a bit of sight-seeing; it also helped that I got my paper out of the way on the first day of the conference, the 11th, and so could relax the rest of the time. The sun and warmth were also appreciated. Come the 14th, back into a taxi to YVR.
Segment 3: YVR-YXE, 14 May 2002
Airline etc.: AC Jazz 8486, Fokker F-28, C-FCRB, fin #: 150
Sched.: 12:20-15:25 / Act.: 12:42-15:35 / In Air: 12:44-15:32
Photo © Joe Pries
After my usual just-in-time arrival at the airport, another quick check-in using the express kiosks, and then a slow meander down to the AIF ticket machines and security. The usual waits with the laptop here, but at least my stuff doesn't draw any other attention. Then the long walk down to gate C40. The waiting area was quite full; the windows here do give quite a good view though, of airport activity. After a bit of gawping out of various windows, I took a seat near the counter, to hear that boarding would be late... the plane hadn't arrived yet. It came in just before noon.
Pre-boarding began at 12:23, the whole process was finished by 12:40. My seat: 13E. For those readers who are familiar with the AC configuration of the F28, I suppose no more need be said! For those who aren't: last seat, in the last row; window seat but no windows in this row – the engines are on the other side of the cabin wall; and the cabin wall curves in more noticeably here than in other rows, closing you in and pushing you towards the middle seat. And I'm neither big nor tall. But at least I could spend most of the boarding time standing in the aisle, chatting to the F/A and the man in 13B. But all good things come to an end; 13C arrived, late, and so I had to get back into the cubbyhole. It was a full flight, too; only 2 empty seats. Luckily, one of them was 13D; this made the situation better, as I could lean a little into that space, and keep the carry-on under the middle seat to allow for enough legroom. With someone in that middle seat though, especially someone bigger than, say, a small child, the segment would have been miserable. As it was, it was a bit cramped, but endurable. Still, this was definitely going to be a gin & tonic flight!
Pushback was at 12:42, followed quickly by the safety demo, the engines firing up, and the taxi out to Rwy 26L. Rotation was at 12:44; at 12:51 had the flight info. announcement: planned time 1 hour 40 minutes, at 29,000'. It was a very smooth take-off and climb, in perfect weather conditions. The engine noise was as described on the outbound leg, but still not intolerable, even here at the back. The seatbelts sign went off at 13:10; the snack service began at about the same time. As a treat, on this lunchtime flight we would be getting a sandwich! Of course, what had I done in the terminal but buy a sandwich to eat on the flight. Oh well, the bought one would just have to wait. The service finally reached the back of the plane at 13:33. Even more luxury – a fresh lemon wedge was included with the g&t! The sandwich was a cold-cut mix on a small sub, nothing gourmet about it, but fresh and good-tasting.
Afterwards, nothing for it but to continue as before – read the paper. By leaning forward, I could see a little bit of sky out of the window by 12E, but really, in row 13 you'd better be resigned to either reading something, or working/playing on a laptop, or dozing. I assumed that neither the mountainous, treed Rockies, nor the flat, brown prairies had changed much in the last 5 days... Time also to move the watch forward one hour.
At 15:13, got the announcement that descent from 29,000 would begin shortly; it did, 2 minutes later, as the seatbelts sign went on again. It had been a very smooth flight so far; the descent was basically the same, save for a little light chop coming through the clouds. From my limited view, it seemed as if there were a lot of clouds below us, but we were quickly down to clear skies. And yes, from what I could see of the ground as we came in, it was still all brown. We came in south of YXE, heading east all the way before the one turn to final. A smooth touchdown at 15:32 on Rwy 33, reaching the gate at 15:35. It took a few minutes for the jetbridge to be connected; by 15:45 I was back in the terminal to wait for the last flight.
YXE: same (re)construction as before, same limited views, although I could see the front gear and reg./fin # on the gear doors of the next plane, while peering out from the window beside the customs doors. But that was all that could be seen of the plane, as the jetbridge blocked out the rest.
Segment 4: YXE-YWG, 14 May 2002
Airline etc.: AC Jazz 8530, Fokker F-28, C-GTEO, fin #: 131
Sched.: 16:20-18:35 / Act.: 16:25-18:31 / In Air: 16:31-18:30
Seat: 12A (orig. 12B)
Photo © John Kelley
The slightly late arrival made for a very short wait in the terminal. Pre-boarding began at 16:09, all was done by 16:21, when we had the usual "welcome" announcement. I was supposed to be in 12B, but the woman who would have been in 12A didn't want it. A window at last, with an excellent view of the front of the engine and part of the wing; enough of the ground was visible too, however, so not too bad. No cramped feeling here; just enough legroom even with the bag under the seat in front of me, and more than enough shoulder room. This was also a very full flight: row 13 was again full save for 13D (poor people!), and maybe there was an empty seat hiding elsewhere, but it wasn't obvious.
Pushback was at 16:25; flight details were announced as 65 minutes, at an altitude of 25,000'. Rotation was at 16:31, off Rwy 09, again in very good conditions. I assume the winds had changed or must have been negligible, given the change in runways. There was light chop on the climb; we had a thin cloud layer to get through, but that was quickly done. The snack service began at 16:38, reaching me by 16:55: pretzels and an orange juice for me this time.
Time to change the watch again; another hour forward. We cruised in between the cloud layers; some wispy strands above, strands and puffy cumulus types below, but broken enough to allow a good view of the ground, brown as before, for most of the flight. It was again a very smooth flight. Between doing the crossword in the paper and looking out the window, the time passed very quickly.
The descent started at 18:18; an on-time arrival at the gate was expected. They also mentioned, however, that we were going to be fighting strongish headwinds (30-40 mph I believe, but don't quote me, as the engine noise made parts of the announcement hard to hear), so some chop was expected.
In the event, the plane did dance around a bit, skittering side to side rather than bumping up and down, though. It was another basically straight-in approach; touchdown was at 18:30 on Rwy 13, with arrival at the gate about half a minute later. I was one of the last off the plane, but the bag came out quickly. By 19:00 I was back in my downtown hotel.
In sum, another 4 excellent flights. The cabin crews were all friendly and efficient, as were the gate agents; both I and my bag arrived safely, and together, at my destinations; the planes were basically tidy and clean. Essentially, that's all that's needed, especially on these short little hops. Full marks to AC Jazz (and parent AC).
It was indeed nice to fly a turboprop again; and i'm glad to have got the F28 in. I would wish 13E on any enemies I might have, preferably with some really beefy lineman type filling up 13D, but as it was, it was just another new experience. Overall, I liked the F28, and would take a chance to fly it again. The engine noise is certainly noticeable, but I didn't think it unbearable; seating is certainly tighter than on larger planes, but it was fine for me (being only 5'10 and a bit helps in that regard, I suppose!). Maybe I'm just too easily pleased...but i've yet to be on a plane i really dislike. I suppose that one day the law of averages will catch up with me, but so far, so good...