I had heard of JetsGo's start but hadn't paid much attention until the morning of Saturday, June 15th. That was when I stumbled across their "father's day" promotion via airliners.net. Basically the deal was that any travel was free on June 16th (Sunday) providing you were male and over 21 - which I qualify for (spot on with the age in fact). I first tried booking over the internet at jetsgo.net where I was unable to book a roundtrip YYZ-YVR flight on the day because of a system lock proclaiming "not enough time for a connecting flight". I got a bit frustrated before B747-437B pointed out to me that I could get around that lock by booking two one-way tickets. That I did, and the tickets were booked. The flight to Vancouver would depart terminal 3 the next morning at 9am.
Unfortunately, not being blessed with a car (ugh) it about two hours to get to the airport, via bus and taxi when I realized that the airport buses weren't running yet. I arrived at T3 around 8am after being quickly identified by 437B, quickly chatted up about his ordeals regarding security and the impact on his life post 9/11. I won't get into that in detail of course, because that is his story to tell if he so decides to on this site. But it is a bit shocking to say the least. But let me tell you, the man is a veritable gold mine of information and insight on airline business.
The check in staff at YYZ were well, very inexperienced to say the least. They smiled a lot but it was painfully obvious they could have used a bit more training. When I tried to inquire what the fare would be to depart from Vancouver on Monday (I was considering staying longer if it was reasonable), it took four staff about 10 minutes to give me the answer. In the end, I declined the fare as it was over my budget.
Proceeding to the waiting area I quickly caught sight of the gleaming white MD-83 with the green happy face on the tail, C-GKLN. What I was most surprised to see was that the same staff at the check in counter had now moved to the gate and proceeded to board the passengers. My signifiant other joked that we'd also see them heading for the cockpit shortly too
So, I guess you call that efficiency of working capital.
My seat on the outbound sector was 10E, the window seat on the right side of the a/c. 437B had an exit row seat in row 22. The seating pitch on this aircraft configured for 160 seats was barely adequate for me - but I'm 6'4". We were greeted by an all-female cabin crew that was for the most part quite attractive and their uniforms very smart - green with black leather jackets. The captain for both sectors was Chris Lewis. The flight appeared to be about 2/3 full, surprising given the promotion. Speaking with B747-437B, we presumed that we appeared to be the only ones taking advantage of the promotion on that particular flight - especially given the number of women on the flight who were academically ineligible for the promotion.
Pushback was delayed slightly, but quickly we pulled up to runway 23 and the engines started the run-up. Having never flown a narrow body McDD airplane, I didn't know what to expect in terms of noise. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the ventilation system was almost as noisy as the engines on takeoff - the quietest cabin I think I've ever been inside (which includes the A330). There was a steep climb out before a slight northerly turn.
With JetsGo, the service was exactly as I expected. Sparse amenities, but friendly staff and reasonable prices. Non-alcoholic drinks cost $1, as do chips. Bagels and scones are $2, and a turkey baguette is $4. Certainly more reasonable than what VIA rail charges. The food was OK - not exceptional but not outside of expectations for a no-frills operation. Water, BTW is free as long as you don't take the whole bottle.
But in terms of in flight entertainment, bring your own. JetsGo doesn't provide any except for a window
After spending some time sleeping and some chatting with B747-437B I returned to my seat for the final 1 hour of the sector, seeing (I believe) Lake Louise, and the Rocky Mountains - a majestic sight that makes the trip entirely worth it.
A bit later, I was surprised to see that the leading edge slats had been deployed just as the descent from 35,000 feet had begun. 437B confirmed to me that this was an error by an inexperienced flight crew. The approach to YVR took us almost all the way over Vancouver Island, where below we could see ferries just about to meet up halfway across the strait. Coming in for landing, we seemed to be quite fast (although I wasn't sure, not having flown the -80 before) and indeed we were. The landing was a bit botched, with a good number of spotters witnessing a large bounce before we settled down.
To add insult to injury, the a/c was directed too far forwards to be connected with the airbridge on arrival - resulting in a delay as the aircraft had to be pushed back.
I hadn't noticed, to that point, but our flight time was almost 5 hours and the flight would not be able to make its 45 minute turn for the departure back to YYZ. Unfortunately, JetsGo had not yet been set up in the domestic check-in area at YVR and we had to run all the way to the International area to check in for our return leg. I think I was the last one to check in for the flight, after -437B. It was a real rush to get back to the gate again as the turn had been shortened a bit to compensate for the delay.
My seat coming back was 17E, which was still very quiet even on takeoff. Just out of curiosity, I ventured to the rear lav - positioned between the two JT8Ds. It was vibrating quite wildly back there, so I'd recommend you try to avoid the last eight rows or so on the aircraft.
Korean characters on the life vests and unused galley equipment embossed with KOREAN AIR made it pretty obvious as to the origins of C-GKLN (yes, it was of course the same aircraft, and crew on the return). The only carry-over from Royal were the food trolleys, labeled B757.
The cruising altitude was only 33,000 feet on the return leg most likely due to an almost full load of fuel and a packed cabin - there were only a handful of empty seats on the sector.
We ended up arriving about 30mins late in YYZ - a bit tired but also quite happy with our investment of little money and a bit of time.
JetsGo is not going to fool anyone that it is Air Canada with their service, but they fulfill their role very well and operate on a much lower cost basis. The staff's problems including the pilot's small errors are all due to lack of experience and will likely be corrected in the near future as time goes on and I don't think are cause for concern. The MD-83 is a great choice, being economical on short routes with the ability to operate YYZ-YVR with a full pax load. As the airline matures, it can only get better. Therefore, I'd recommend JetsGo to anyone who actually is paying for a ticket themselves and can deal with the small inconvenience of a lack of IFE. Hey - at least you can choose your own music and you'll be saving a lot of money
Yes, I know I wasn't supposed to take it, but it was just too tempting