Well, after months and months of waiting, Air Canada was finally going to take delivery of its first A340-500. The delivery flight from Toulouse to Montreal-Trudeau took place on Tuesday June 29th.
Photo © Alex G.-Denicourt - Contrails Aviation Photography
Photo © Youri Thonon
On Saturday July 3rd, it was the first scheduled flight for the A345 and it was scheduled to operate as a Rapidair leg: YUL-YYZ. So a bunch of us YUL aviation fans (including FLYYUL) decided to book a daytrip to YYZ, to be part of the inaugural AC A345 flight, and to do some great spotting!
Some booked with WestJet on the return leg, but I decided to go with the 5:00pm AC 1228 flight because of their A330-300... my favorite!
Saturday July 3rd 2004
Flight #: AC 401
Fin #: 952
Flight time: 1:15
Departure Time: 7:00am
Before going to bed on Friday, I made sure my alarm would wake me up at 4:45am on Beyonce so that I can dance myself out of bed singing “Naughty Girl”!
A took a quick shower, made some tea to make sure a stay awake (I’m not a coffee guy), and dressed lightly considering it will be a sunny and hot day in both Montreal and Toronto.
I had asked my mom if she can drive to the airport; I didn’t feel like paying an extra 20$ for a cab ride. Around 5:15, I woke her up and at 5:25, we were out of the house.
After passing by an AMT machine to collect some cash for the day, we arrived at the airport. My mom wished me a nice day, and I was off to meet FLYYUL and the other YULers.
I love self-service express check-in kiosk! I don’t understand why people line-up to get an agent to handle their reservation when you can do it yourself. I asked my friend once, and he told me “I don’t trust machines! I want to make sure I get on that flight!”… I just roll my eyes when I hear that…
Air Canada’s kiosks are in my opinion very good. Any passenger can use them, whether you have a paper ticket or an e-ticket. I had a chance to use Lufthansa’s kiosks in AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA, but only pax with e-tickets can use them.
So, I poped in my credit card, and my reservation came up. I got to choose my seat 37A, behind the wing, to watch the nice flex!
FLYYUL joined me shortly after having checked-in. He choose a seat behind me. We went through security, which didn’t have a long line-up. As I was picking up my bag on the end of the screening machine, the agent asked me if he can take a look at my bag. “Sure” I said. He pointed at this weird looking object at the screen… I had no idea what it was… He then found my pencil case (yes… I forgot to take it out of my bag that morning) and took out my mini-stapler… case solved!
It was a quiet morning in YUL. There was a flight to Vancouver at 7:20, and another to Cancun at 7:40. That was about it, but more A320s were parked at the gates for flights later in the morning… there is a big rush around 9am, with flights to Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Moncton, and Halifax.
We met up with the other YULers at Gate 4 in the domestic wing. It was around 6:00 am, but no one showed any signs of tiredness… we were just all excited!!
I approached the window, and there she was, young, fresh and beautiful! Those engines are sooooooo big!
It was a light load on the flight, around 90 pax only… but hey, it’s a Saturday morning… you can’t expect biz travelers at this time. So a call was given at 6:25 for priority boarding to Elite and Super Elite members, and a general boarding call was given shortly after.
At the door, we were greeted by name by a lovely F/A… a nice touch!
I made my way to the end of the plane, (smiled at a cute F/A on my way…), and I noticed the smell of this brand new plane; quite pleasant!
As I sat in my seat, I was surprised at the amount of leg-room available. PTVs were also a good size…
The crew welcomed us on board, distributed some headsets, and made a couple of other announcements, including mentioning this inaugural flight of the A345.
At my left, it was AC (C-GHLQ) B763 bound to YVR I think…
I quickly went to the right side of the plane to grab some shots… Here we have WestJet 737 with winglets to either Vancouver, Calgary or Toronto and a Mexicana A319 to Mexico City.
We pushed back at 7:00 am on the dot while our PTVs played the safety procedures.
Delta CRJ to Atlanta/Cincinnati and the same WestJet. You could also see the 3 new gates for the new terminal. They start at WestJet’s left wing-tip.
I thought at first we would take runway 28 (a popular runway for West-bound departures), but we taxied left which meant we were heading to taxiway Bravo to catch runway 24R.
“Crew prepare for take-off”.
And here we go! That was a powerful but quiet take-off! We rotated pretty early… this can be explained by the light load on the plane, but these huge RR engines are also awesome!
I was also happy to grab some shots of the new international jetty… to be opened in 2005. The new Transborder jetty is the upper branch.
The suburbs, west of Montreal, aka “the West-Island” (that’s where I live).
The crew quickly served us drinks and a little snack (Banana cake). Enough for a 1 hour flight. My friends on biz class had a full breakfast though (eggs, bread, etc.).
The day before, I had quickly printed an 8 X 10 picture of the AC A345. So after breakfast service, I asked one of the F/As if I can have the entire crew sign the picture. She got excited and said “Oh my God! That’s so cute!” So she ran up and down the aisle to find her fellow crew members to make them sign it. I had a huge smile on my face when she gave it back to me!
And by that time, it was 7:40am, and we were about to start our descent into Toronto.
I took this nice shot of the map.
Downtown Toronto! (Believe it or not, I still haven’t been, but I’m told I am not missing much ). If I’m not mistaken, this is downwind for runway 06R.
On final… notice the ugly layout of houses… ahhhh, the rivalry between Montreal and Toronto continues!
Touch down! The reverse thrust were really quiet!
Our gate wasn’t available yet, so we waited about 10 to 5 minutes on the tarmac… I was able to grab some more plane pics…
And finally, we parked at gate 124, next to a CRJ.
This was my first time in T-new. I loved it. It was spacious, clean, and structurally pleasing. Yes, it isn’t as pleasing as CDG 2F, but still, it was better looking than YUL!
Right now, it’s a mess for people to connect at YYZ due to the lack of gates for AC. But it will be better as the rest of the terminal is built.
This is the departure hall.
Baggage claim area… simply beautiful.
So all 9 of us rented 2 cars and made our way to 2 aviation stores (including Captain Gomes’!).
And finally, we went to do some spotting. A few YYZers joined us. We go kicked out by cops after a while (losers… they blamed their actions on our Prime Minister Paul Martin, a new low…).
So we moved over to an area right next to it… which really didn't make any difference.
Half of us were on the 4pm and 5pm AC flights back to YUL. So at 3pm, we headed back to the airport, all tanned from a nice day in the sun!
Saturday July 3rd 2004
Flight #: AC 1228
Fin #: 972
Flight time: 1:10
Departure Time: 5:00pm
Photo © Mike Kay
Photo © Yevgeny Pashnin
So, as you may have noticed, the aircraft was down-graded from a A333 to a B762… argh!!! Not fair! Oh well, I’ll be flying on an A333 next week on my Vancouver trip…
Same as the departure leg, I used the self-service kiosks. Very efficient. I got seat 28K. My friend had 12K, and he asked me if I could switch with him, since he wanted to sit behind the wing to take pics of the flaps... Sure! I love bulkhead seats!
Beautiful check-in area.
I made my way to security. It went smoothly, but the agents were somewhat weird… One of them gave me a bad look as I placed my sweater on the belt of the x-ray machine. She took it back, shacked her head, a tried to tell me that I might have dirtied my own sweater by placing it directly on the belt… then she just put in a container and passed it through…. In my head, I was like “this is my sweater, I am allowed to dirty it if I want to!! And for God’s sakes, are you security or my mom??!!”
I don’t know, maybe it’s a Toronto thing…
As we waited for boarding, I gave mom a call...
-"So, will you pick me up at the Airport?"
-"Uhhh, no, sorry, I'm busy".
Crap, that means I have to take 3 city buses to go home. (Again, I refuse to spend money on taxis...). Oh well...
This time, the plane was full. But boarding was smooth. Nothing special. The announcements were much more robotic manner this time. Maybe it’s because it was a full plane, and they wanted to make sure it left on time.
We pushed back at 5:00pm on the dot. T3 was right next to me, and I saw LOT 767, KLM 744, Air France 340, a couple of Air Transats 310s, and Olympic 340.
As we taxied, a got a glimpse of Zoom’s 763 to CDG via YUL.
It was a short taxi to runway 06R (same one we landed on), and we quickly started to roll!
Again, downtown TO.
The crew quickly jumped to the snack service. They had a full 767 plane to feed in 40 minutes! We first got ice cream (nothing fancy…), then drinks and peanut bag.
When I finished eating, I grabbed a couple of shots of the cabin Economy class (Damn that stupid camera case!!)
And Biz class. They got a full meal composed of a nice meat sandwhich.
And just as I went back to my seat, the captain was announcing that we will be starting our descent to beautiful Montreal!
Here, we are on downwind for 24R. This is of course an overview of YUL.
Ahhh, downtown Montreal!! Small eh?
Turning base for 24R. This is a better shot of downtown Montreal and the Mount-Royal.
And finally, home sweet home!
It was somewhat busy at YUL, since we were during the afternoon rush-hour. Some heavies to note: Air France’s 744 (2nd of 3 daily flight), RAM 767, Lufthansa STAR (albino) 767, Air Canada A333.
We parked at gate 5A. Everyone got off the plane rather quickly. The domestic finger was quite busy. I didn’t check-in any luggage, so I made my way out of the terminal, saluted FLYYUL and the others, and jumped on the 204 city bus line to Dorval Circle.
Connected with the 211 line to the West-Island, and then the 201 to my house.
It’s Saturday night in Montreal. Although I was really tired, I wasn’t gonna stay home that night. So I took a quick shower, dressed up, and got ready to head to the Jazz Festival and to a clubbing night at the village! What a looong day!!
I hope you guys liked this report. Please let me know if there is anything I could improve. I’m going on a trip to YVR next week-end, and then to SIN by the end of the month. I want these to be enjoyable to read.
Thanks for reading!