Vancouver Trip With AC: YUL-YVR-YYZ-YUL
I was told over and over again that Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in North America. It has been 15 years that I’ve been living in this great country, and I have yet to visit the West Coast. So when my classmates from McGill University told me they were off to BC
for the summer to work, I didn’t hesitate to book a 4 day week-end getaway to this gorgeous city.
Thursday, July 8th 2004
Flight #: AC 111
Fin #: 602
Flight time: 5:05
Departure Time: 9:25am
Arrival Time: 11:30am
I was planning to head to the airport on public transportation that morning (pretty easy since I can catch all the rush hour buses. However, I woke up to an ugly, rainy day… The idea of getting my suitcases all wet was quite displeasing, so I quickly woke up my sister and begged for a lift.
After a quick shower and breakfast, we were out of the house by 7:15. It’s a short 15 minute drive to the airport from my place (West-Island).
I was dropped off near the domestic departures, where I proceeded to the Express Self-Service Check-In kiosks. Some of you may have remembered from my trip report last week how much I love using these machines.
My confirmed booking was on AC
but with a 1 hour stop in YYZ
on a A321. This flight left YUL
at 10am and arrived in YVR
at 2pm. However, I had an option of going stand-by on the earlier flight to Vancouver. It was a non-stop flight (AC 111) leaving YUL
at 9:25am and arriving in YVR
Now, here were the pros and cons of traveling on the earlier flight (stand-by AC
1)I gain 2 more hours in Vancouver.
2)In my opinion, B767 are more spacious than the A320 family. I feel way too claustrophobic in the latter.
1)Never flew AC
A321; these are relatively new planes, and they have a power outlet for my laptop in coach..
2)1 extra landing and 1 extra take-off
3)I get to see the new terminal in YYZ
; however, after my unexpected trip to YYZ
last week-end, it was somewhat unimportant.
Nevertheless, when the computer asked me whether I would like to be added on the stand-by list of AC
111, I accepted. I never traveled stand-by, so I wasn’t really sure how the process worked. My boarding pass got printed, and I walked over to the agent where my luggage got tagged.
“So, my name got added on the stand-by list for AC
111?”, I asked.
“Yeah, I see it right here”
“What are my chances to get on the flight?”
“Oh there shouldn’t be a problem; I’m operating that flight at the gate anyways, I’ll see you there.”
“Ok, but what if I can’t get a window seat? Can I decline last minute at the gate? I really don’t wanna put you through trouble for nothing.”
“It’s not a problem at all. If we can’t find you a window seat, you’ll just go on your confirmed flight”.
“Great! One more thing, can I get the fin number of the plane? Just in case I can’t see it from the window at the gate”
“well, it’s just for my records, I like to keep track of the planes I fly”
“I don’t think I could give you that. It’s against the law”.
Sure, whatever. I believe you. Well, I didn’t really insist. She was doing me a favor. So I just nodded, and thanked her and I headed to security.
Security wasn’t too bad, no major line-ups. The agent took my binoculars, and started turning them around, looking through them, as if he was in a market trying to buy them.
Then I bought some earphones, as I was planning on watching at least 4 episodes of Sex and the City on my laptop during the flight. And then I finally made my way to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge all excited because I was getting quite hungry and looking forward for a nice continental breakfast.
It’s a very nice lounge indeed, very spacious and clean (much better than Lufthansa’s Lounge in AB
) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA). I was able to get some juice, muffins, cereals and bagels with cream cheese.
Here are also some shots I took from the lounge.
321 to YYZ
WestJet (737) to Calgaty and Mexicana (A319) to Mexico City.
400 (B767) inbound from YYZ
. This will be the bird taking me YVR
. I got the fin number from here…
Finally around 8:45am, I made my way to gate 5A
, to see if my friendly check-in agent was able to find me a seat on the non-stop flight. As I neared the gate, I hear: “Passenger Imad please present yourself at the desk”.
“Hey, so how does it look?”
“I got you seat 20K”
“Cool, I’ll take it”.
, here’s your boarding pass.”
“Thanks, oh yeah, by the way it’s fin number 602, just in case someone else asks you…”
I smiled at her, and she smiled back … I wasn’t trying to be rude. I just think what she told me before was complete BS
You gotta love the AC
gate agents at YUL
; they could be snobby sometimes, but you just have to be polite with them.
So at that point, I was pretty happy that I would arrive in Vancouver earlier than expected. The plane seemed to be about 90% full… a good load for this morning.
As I make my way to 20K, I see an old lady in my seat. “Crap”, I thought…
It was an elderly Asian woman. I sit down next to her (aisle seat), and I say hi. She smiles at me, and I get the vibe that she doesn’t know neither English nor French. Very slowly, with a huge smile on my face, I say:
“I think you’re in my seat”.
“Hallo, Beijing, Beijing!” .She definitely had no intentions in moving from her seat.
Ok, so at that point, I really felt bad disturbing the poor woman who obviously seemed to get nervous when I was talking to her. How do I make her understand that she is sitting in the wrong seat??? I didn’t want to make a scene in the plane by asking other asian travelers to talk to her. I didn’t wanna seem like a child bothering everybody for a stupid window seat… but at the time, I was seriously considering getting out of the plane and going on my confirmed flight, where I had a window seat. But as I was getting all panicky, she pulls out her boarding pass, and to my delight, I read 20C. She was on the wrong side of the plane! YAY! At that moment, a young woman comes up to me and says “Sorry, I think you’re sitting in my seat”. I told her that there was a small confusion, and that I was taking care of it. So I get up, smile at the old woman again, and very calmly take her boarding pass, and point to the other side of the plane. She started to understand what I was trying to say. Then I took her by the hand and I walked her to her seat, and I pointed at the seat number on the boarding pass and on the number on top of the seat. She was all happy and kept on saying thank you, and needless to say, I had a huge smile on my face as well!
One of the F/As saw the whole scene and told me that I was very patient and that I would be a very good F/A. I thanked her, and told her it was in my plans to become one for a short period before starting my professional career.
Anyways, so I finally get settled in my seat and the young woman who talked to me earlier sits down next to me. Next thing I know, she starts crying. “Oh God, what now?” I thought. The poor girl was traveling to Japan to teach English for an entire year, and she just left her entire family and boyfriend behind in Montreal. I felt bad for her. I tried consoling her, and promised her that we will watch as many episodes of Sex And The City as she wanted to cheer her up. She laughed and agreed.
2 seconds later after that conversation, a guy comes up to me:
“Uhhh sorry, I think you’re in my seat”
“You’re kidding me, right?” I asked him.
“No I’m not, I have 19K”
“That’s the seat in front of me”.... idiot.
Finally, everyone’s seated, doors are closed, welcome announcements are made and we were ready to push back!
flight (A320) to Edmonton at gate 5B
It was a very wet and quick taxi (2minutes) since we took off from runway 28 which is really close to the domestic jetty.
As you guys can see, very ugly morning in Montreal.
Shortly after leveling off at about 34,000 ft, breakfast service began. We were given a choice between eggs or pancakes. I opted for the eggs.
I asked the girl next to me if I can take a shot at her meal (pancakes) before she starts eating it. She laughed when I told her why I’m taking pictures like crazy in general. Well, as long as that made her day… better than the crying in the beginning.
After the meal service, as promised, I popped open my laptop and we started watching Sex And The City Season 3. Time really passed fast. We ran through 4 hilarious episodes (at one point, one F/A watched like 5 minutes with us!), which took about 2 hours.
Then I decided to stretch for a bit and take a couple of cabin shots.
I chatted with the crew for a while as well. They seemed to be so disinterested with their job unfortunately. I told them how much I would love to become a flight attended one day, and their response was “Don’t do it. Big mistake”. They looked depressed with their job, constantly complaining about how bad the company “abuses” them. Personally, I don’t know what to believe, but I still wouldn’t mind being an AC
F/A. But the crew still did their job and they were polite with all passengers, which at the end, is the most important thing.
After yet another snack & bar service, it was time to prepare for our descent into YVR
Just about to hit the clouds! As you can see, overcast over Vancouver (it was like that throughout the entire flight…)
Spoilers up and the plane starts to shake!
Ladies and gentlemen, this is my first ever view of the Pacific Ocean!
Short final for runway 08L.
Some nice heavies here, including my first ever China Airlines!
We taxied for a couple of minutes to gate C41.
’s domestic terminal was actually very nice. It doesn’t have the modern look of YYZ
, but nevertheless, it’s nicer than YUL
. And please call me an idiot for not having taken any shots of the gate area.
However, I grabbed a couple more of some other heavies.
1162 (B763) to Toronto.
Finally, I made my way to baggage claim area. I was somewhat disappointed. I had seen pictures of a large area with lots of windows, but the one I was in was pretty dark, and had a low ceiling. I think the one I had in mind is for international arrivals at terminal D.
My luggage came out pretty quickly, and I made my way to the waiting line for taxis and went right away to my hotel.
What followed was 4 exciting and fun days of west coast hospitality. Vancouver is an amazing city, with beautiful sceneries. The clubbing scene was actually better than I thought. We went out to a new trendy club called Celebrities, which was really fun. And shopping was great on Robson Street! I could easily write an entire report on my visit, but this is a trip report, so I’ll cut to the chase, and write about my flight back home
Sunday, July 11th 2004
Flight #: AC 1228
Fin #: 934
Flight time: 4:10
Departure Time: 8:30am
Arrival Time: 3:40pm
So we went out clubbing the night before my flight, and by the time I reached my hotel, it was about 4am… and I had to leave to the airport by 6:30am, so I decided not to go to bed, and just kill time. I started off by packing up, then watched some TV
(there was nothing on, just flipping channels), and went for breakfast at 6am. I ate like a pig, but I think everyone does when you have a free breakfast buffet! Then, I hopped on a cab to YVR
1228 is a 1-stop flight to YUL
, via YYZ
. Again, I purposely booked this flight as I get to spend some time in YYZ
’s new terminal, and I get to ride on my favorite plane, the A330-300!!
Again, I used the express check-in kiosks. Very efficient. Chose my seat 12A (bulkhead seat!!). Made my way to the agent who tagged my suitcase, and that was about the only thing he did. I would have appreciated a “Good morning”, but it was apparently a bad morning for him.
’s check-in area
WestJet’s check-in area; I’m sure there were lots of “good morning!” over there.
I skipped the Maple Leaf Lounge visit, since I already had a full breakfast. I actually had to look for some gifts for my family. So I went around the souvenir shops and bought a couple of stuff.
Security was a small pain this time, as they made me open my laptop. He then asked me a few questions on where I was heading and for what reasons (I wasn’t expecting that … it’s usually custom/immigration officers that ask these kinds of questions).
This time, I took some shots of the terminal.
Hallway leading to concourse C (AC domestic finger).
Spacious, that’s what I like.
Zipper to Calgary.
150 to YUL
(A320). Even though it’s a non-stop flight, I never would have booked a 5 hour flight on this plane… yuck.
Can you find my flight?
And here’s Fox-Trot Uniform Romeo; my ride back home!
Uneventful. As usual, AC
invites passengers needing assistance and those with kids first. Elite and Super Elite members board at their convenience, and then, they proceed by rows. I usually wait until there are no line-ups. I was greeted by a lovely F/A, who called me by my name… I really like when they do that. There was no story with my seats this time! The load today was 219/260 in Y, and 24/30 in Biz… Again, I’m very happy to see AC
with these loads.
We pushed-back on time. The security videos started playing, and having been my fourth AC
flight in a week, I was getting annoyed at them.
The crew also passed by with some newspapers.
You gotta like these colors!
After a short taxi, we started rolling on 08R.
Just look at that wing span!
And as usual, crappy weather in Vancouver.
By that time, I started getting sleepy. But I wanted to fight it. I didn’t book a fight on the A330 to sleep on it. So I opened my laptop and started to write this report. The crew came by with the bar and breakfast service. I declined breakfast, as I was still full from what I ate earlier this morning.
“Are you sure? What about these fruits?” she asked.
“No thanks, I’ll just have some tea please”… you know, just to keep me awake. It was very nice of her to offer them though.
I spent a good 2 hours writing and listening to Janet Jackson. There was a stupid movie playing on the screens (The Prince and Me). C’mon AC
, you could do better! I skimmed through their movie selection for the month of July, and I wasn’t really impressed… But I’ve been told I’m picky
Afterwards, I got up, stretched for a bit, talked with an F/As, who were by the way exceptional in terms of service. It was the best AC
crew I have ever flown with. Always smiling, and going beyond their duties to help passengers. For example, one of them was very slowly explaining to some German travelers how to connect at YYZ
onwards to their Lufthansa flight. Some F/As would have simply said “speak to an agent at the airport”. (When we landed, I saw the same F/A helping other pax with their connecting flights right outside our gate… I thought she was great. It’s not really her job to do this, but when you put your clients’ interest before yours, then, in my opinion, you are one of the bests).
I heard another F/A saying that there will be a change of planes in YYZ
for pax continuing to Montreal. I right away remembered what happened last week when AC
changed the scheduled A330 to a B762 on my way back to YUL
. I was really pissed because I had especially booked that flight to fly on the 330. So I crossed my fingers, hoping that we would get transferred to another 330.
Almost full cabin… too bad AC
doesn’t have any PTVs…
I sat back down in my seat and just stared out the window for a good half an hour… and shortly after, we started our descent into YYZ
It looks like Ontario has nice beaches!
I love these “cotton clouds”!
This one is pretty cool! You could see the shadow of the plane on the cloud!
Short final for 15L (if I’m not mistaken…)
Welcome to Toronto!
This is terminal 3. Starting next November, Air Transat will transfer its flights from YMX
, so we will get this line-up of Transat planes soon!
As we taxied to our gate, I saw an A330 parked at the Rapidair gates… “There is a God!” I said to myself!
We taxied right into our gate (139) at the tip of the beautiful Terminal 1.
You see the woman on the right? Well, it’s the nice F/A I was telling you about, speaking to gate agents and helping out the pax with their connecting flights.
Here are some shots of YYZ
And this is the new aircraft that would take me back home!
Sunday, July 11th 2004
Flight #: AC 1228
Fin #: 936
Flight time: 1:05
Departure Time: 5:10pm
Arrival Time: 6:15pm
Ok guys, I’m getting tired of writing this never ending report, so I’m gonna speed this up by mostly posting my pics. Besides, this flight was just a 1 hour hop...
Some gate agents were confused because our boarding passes had “Origin: Vancouver” and “Destination: Montreal”, but they soon understood that there had been a plane change.
There were lots of people lining-up, so I was assuming the plane to be full. Indeed, the load was 224/260 in Y and 30/40 in J. As usual, lots of F/As in these seats… you see them often on Rapidair flights; most probably they are stationed in YYZ
, but flying back home to Montreal for a day or two.
The captain informed us 10 minutes delay due to luggage issues. So we pushed-back at 5:10pm, while the annoying safety video was playing.
Every gate we passed by was occupied by an AC
A320 or B767.
And here, we could see old T1 and the famous parking lot…
And we soon started to roll on 24L.
Here’s downtown Toronto… and the winglet!
As we banked to the left to an eastern heading, a grabbed a shot of YYZ
Soon after leveling off, the crew started the bar service. They also gave us a snack… ice cream! You won’t find many airlines in North America who will offer complimentary drinks and snacks for a 1 hour flight.
I dozed off for a couple of minutes… and before I knew it, we started our descent to Montreal.
Here’s a shot of the Olympic Stadium while on final for 24R.
And this is downtown Montreal.
Home sweet home!
Quite a busy afternoon at the international jetty at YUL
’s 2nd flight on the day (744) to CDG
, RAM 767 to CMN, Lufthansa 767 (Star Albino) to MUC
, and Thomas Cook 757 to LGW
. There were a few AC
CRJs at the USA jetty, and the usual AC
A320 and B767 at the domestic finger.
We parked at gate 4, and as I walked off the bridge into the terminal, I noticed passengers waiting at the gate area for their flight to CDG
. I called my mom on my cell phone and asked her to meet me at the departure ramp.
It took a while for our luggage to come out. While waiting, I started listening to my voice mail on my cell phone and one of my friends left me a message telling me that he was going spotting with some friends for the day. So I gave him a quick call, and asked him if they saw the A330 land a few minutes ago. Indeed, they did, and he took some nice pictures of it.
Doug and Jordan, thanks guys
As soon as my suitcase came out, I made my way upstairs where my mom was waiting for me, and I was home within 15 minutes.
So this concludes my great trip to the West Coast. I absolutely loved it, and I already have plans to go back next February to spend a nice week skiing at Whistler. And hopefully again next summer with some buddies of mine
Upcoming trip: YUL
A345 on Thursday July 29th. So watch out for another long report full of pics!!