forward to it!
I arrived at Terminal C pretty late for my standards (less than 2
hours before the flight!). Terminal C is not anywhere near as pretty
as the newly-renovated E. However it is a palace compared to the
substandard dump that's called Terminal B. I was really glad that this
time I was not flying from there. The line at the AC check-in desks
was tiny, I got a desk immediately, and checked in very quickly. The
lines at security were short too and I was through and at the UA
lounge in no time (I'm an AC elite). AC do not have their own lounge
at BOS. They use the UA one, as they are now both located in the same
terminal (AC moved from E to C not that long ago; about a year or so
perhaps?). The UA lounge is nothing to write home about, but beats
walking around the terminal any day.
10.23.2004, AC803, BOS 09:40 -> YYZ 11:35, A319, seat 13A, Gate C14
I eventually got to the gate a little bit before boarding. The inbound
flight had just arrived and passangers from it were disenbarking. I
thought that we might be a bit late because of this, but they managed
to turn around the plane pretty quickly and, despite the fact that we
boarded 10--15 before departure time, we pushed back only a couple of
mins late and took off shortly after that. The flight was 2/3-3/4 full.
The seats on this A319 were very nice and new-looking. But I did found
them a bit too hard (they have obviously not been softened after years
of people parking their asses on them!). They were of this type:
Photo © Pascal Gaudreau
My last trip was in LH F class (ah! the memories!) and sitting in the
economy seat seemed pretty miserable, but I quickly got (re)used to
it. At least, I had an empty seat next to me and, interestingly
enough, a power outlet (a standard US-type one, not the cigarette
lighter kind), at the back of the seat in front of me. The aisle seat
also had an outlet at the same place, whereas the middle one had one
of these in-flight phones in its place (or, was it the outlet in the
place of the in-flight phone? oh, never mind...). Give me an outlet
for my laptop over a PTV any day!
After we had climbed for a bit the crew distributed small headsets for
free, which we could take home (a nice touch; the US airlines that
I've flown in recently charge for these) and showed the latest news
plus some other programming on the drop down screens. They also gave
out sesame snacks (much better than pretzels), soft drinks / coffee /
tea, and pastries.
When we were getting close to Toronto, the pilot announced that on the
left side of the airplane (i.e. my side) we could see the Niagara
Falls. I haven't visited the Falls yet (been living near Boston for 2+
years... it's pretty pathetic, isn't it?) but from that far high, I
have to admit, they didn't look all that impressive. Sorry!
We eventually landed at YYZ and reached our gate 20 mins ahead of
schedule. Well done AC.
After a fair amount of walking, I reached Canadian immigration. Here's
a tip. I joined the leftmost line. The immigration desk for that line
is next to the priority one (for crews and can't remember who else),
which was not busy at all and, as a result, accepted people from our
line too. So, our line seemed to move faster than the rest. I don't
know if we lucked out, but I was not complaining. Even the
immigration officer was pleasant (compared to the US officials that is).
I eventually reached the luggage reclaim carousel where I'd get my
suitcase to go through Canadian customs. This took a bit longer than I
was expecting; probably 25-30 mins from the time the plane landed. But
I did get my suitcase, cleared customs, and went to the belt for
connecting passangers. In front of me there were two guys, father and
son by the looks of it, with baseball caps, jeans, tartan
shirts/jackets, and very bulky luggage. I think I heard the airport
employee, who was helping people there, asking them about where their
ammo was and I believe he said that the suitcase containing it had to
be labelled. I first thought I misheard, but I then noticed that they
were also carrying a long flat case with two humongous padlocks
on it. So, I assume they were hunters and that case contained their
guns. Is really allowed to carry ammo in the hold of a plane? My turn
eventually came and I put my suitcase on the belt. But before I did
so, I made sure that I locked it, as Canada is a civilised country,
compared to the US (thank you TSA).
To reach my next gate I had to jump on the bus that goes from Terminal
2to Terminal 1. This was pretty fast, as usual, and I at last got in
the new Terminal 1 for the first time. I have to say it's very
spacious and very impressive. And I loved that everything looks new
and modern. My only complain is that it maybe looks a bit sterile,
given the dominating white-ish color. But, yes, I liked it very much.
However, the best part of the new Terminal was AC's Maple Leaf
lounge. I could only spend 20 mins there, but it's easily one of the
most impressive ones I've been to. And I loved the coffee there. None
of that stuff that is kept in the same jug for hours. You can take a
coffee sachet, open it (oh, that aroma!), put it in the machine, and
get a nice freshly brewed cup of lovely coffee. One of the best I've
had at an airline lounge.
10.23.2004, AC1217, YYZ 13:00 -> YVR 15:05, A320, seat 13A, Gate 140
Unfortunately, I had to leave the lounge to catch my next flight. Gate
140 was only a short walk from the lounge and boarding was announced 5
mins after I reached it. I got on board early, due to my elite status,
so I could store my luggage and sit down before the masses got on, as
the flight was totally full.
The plane that we were on looked very unusual. It had Tango colors and
its seats were not like any AC seats I had seen before. They were blue
(if I remember well!) and very old looking. Interestingly, the
business class cabin had the usual green AC seats and, strangely, it
was not separated from the economy cabin by anything; not even a
curtain. If anyone can explain how this plane ended up that way,
please tell me!
Everyone was eventually on board (the guy who eventually sat next to
me boarded last; bummer; I was so convinced that I'd have the
only empty seat in the plane next to me!) and we pushed back and
eventually took off right on time. A little bit later, free headsets
were again distributed and the video programming started on the drop
down screens, followed by refreshments and a hot lunch. The option was
chicken or beef (AAAAARGH! I always cringe when I hear the
question). I opted for the roast beef, which was actually quite tasty
and much better than whetever US airlines have offered me recently
(and before you try to prove me wrong: yes, I've had hot meals in both
AA and UA on transcons). However, it did come with an unimaginative
bean salad and other overcooked vegetables that several people had
warned me against in this thread:
The movie was Spiderman 2 (who said that AC only shows old movies in
their planes?) and, despite the fact that I had seen it before, it was
great for passing the time. Doing a transcon in an A320 is not one of
my favourite passtimes but, in the end, the flight was not too bad. My
only real complain was that I would have loved to have had the power
outlet in the transcon, instead of the shorter leg.
We eventually landed at YVR a few mins ahead of schedule.
After I disembarked, I walked up to the luggage reclaim belt (this
took a few mins). Our luggage came out faster than in YYZ and my
suitcase was among the first 5 I believe (the priority tag on it
worked for a change!). So, the outbound trip was not too bad. Let's
enjoy Vancouver now!
I reached YVR around 2 hours or so before my flight. It was Halloween
and several AC employees were dressed up, including a check-in agent
who was wearing an excellent witch outfit. The line was pretty short,
so I checked in pretty quickly (not by the witch unfortunately!). The
agent told me that I had to pick up my luggage at YYZ so that I could
go through US customs. I could then hit the shops. I have to say, in
that respect, YVR is excellent as there are lots of places to go. I
also grabbed a coffee from Starbucks (served by another witch with
very long purple eyelashes) and a bagel.
I eventually went through security and spent a bit of time at the AC
Maple Leaf lounge. It had one of the most dramatic lounge entrances
I've seen (a tall rock wall) and it was very pleasant. But not as nice
as the new one at YYZ!
10.31.2004, AC008, YVR 11:00 -> YYZ 18:23, A340-300, seat 13A, Gate C50
I reached the gate a few mins before boarding was announced and I was
among the first passangers to get on the plane. The seats had the
standard AC green scheme, but looked a bit more modern and had
headrests. They were of this type:
Photo © Corey Karls
I don't know if it was me, but the AC A340 seats seemed to me a bit
wider and more confortable, compared to the LH A340 seats on which
I've flown across the atlantic many times. Could someone else confirm
or deny this?
The flight was totally full again. The lady who sat next to me was
flying back to YYZ from SYD but she looked, surprisingly, awake. We
pushed back and took off again on time and went through the same
routine: headsets, refreshments, hot lunch. I had the chicken option
this time and it was pretty uninteresting: rubbery chicken with
unimaginative tomato sauce and rice. The drop down screens at some
point showed the sports news of the day and they showed the Red Sox
celebrating their World Series win in the streets of Boston. Go Sox!
The movie was The Manchurian Candidate but I skipped it as I was
enjoying my book (Terry Pratchett's Jingo, which was indeed very
funny...). One of the flight attendants asked me, as she was passing
by, to lower my blind but I ignored her as I wanted to read under
proper sun light (and not using those crappy personal lights) and I
really enjoyed looking at the scenery outside (the weather was
gorgeous and visibility was excellent). After a while, a second flight
attendant asked me whether I could lower my blind. I told her that I'd
rather not, 'cause I'd rather watch the scenery and read my book. She
said that I could actually switch on my personal light by pressing the
button on my arm rest (what a novel idea! ). I still declined. She
left making disapproving noises... So, tell me! Do you like lowering
your blinds when you fly? Or do you prefer looking outside?
The ride to YYZ was pretty bumpy but we eventually reached our
destination only a few mins late. Yet another pleasant transcon in AC,
a bit more pleasant in the A340, I have to say, compared to the A320.
As instructed by the agent in YVR, I went to the luggage reclaim
carousel to pick up my suitcase. After 30 mins of waiting and my
suitcase not appearing, I started getting anxious (I did have another
flight to catch after all). At some point I vaguely heard an
announcement that passangers who are getting on connecting flights to
the US will actually pick up their luggage from a carousel at Terminal
2. I asked an AC agent who confirmed that I'd collect my suitcase from
Terminal 2. Oh, great! It's very nice, of course, that I didn't have
to carry my suitcase to Terminal 2 myself. But I really wish it was
made clearer to me that I'd have to collect it from Terminal 2 and not
At this point it was less than hour before my next flight and I had to
change terminal and go through US immigration/customs. So, I started
getting a bit worried. I ran outside and saw the bus to Terminal 2
leaving... Typical! I ran towards it, anyway, just in case. Thankfully,
the driver saw me in her mirrors and stopped, so I hopped on. I'm
totally grateful to her!
We reached Terminal 2 pretty quickly so I followed the signs towards
the carousel for US connections. My suitcase was indeed there so I
grabbed it and rushed towards US immigration. The line was
ridiculously long, but they were calling for passengers to Boston to
identify themselves and expedited us through a shorter line. So, I was
through in no time. The next line was for getting our luggage scanned
before putting it on the connecting luggage belt. It was not too bad,
but one of the supervisors there asked me to follow him, he did the
swab test on my suitcase, and cleared it.
By the time all this was done, it was almost boarding time. But I
quickly popped in the Maple Leaf lounge to to drink some water and
wash my face, as I was sweating buckets. I also grabbed an apple, as I
wouldn't get a chance to have dinner. Then I made my way to the gate,
which I reached it literally as boarding was being announced. So, in
one fluid movement, I made my way towards the agent, handed her my
boarding pass, and was going to get on the plane first... or so I
thought, as I was picked up for a random security check. Oh well, I
didn't actually mind. At least she was very polite and courteous.
10.31.2004, AC368, YYZ 20:00 -> BOS 21:32, A319, seat 13F, Gate
(can't remember, maybe Y)
So at the end I made it on board on time. But it could have been done
with considerably less stress and effort... The flight was 1/2 to 2/3
full and I had an empty seat next to me (might as welll, since my
t-shirt was still covered in sweat! ). This plane had yet another
seat style, the older green looking ones this time:
Photo © Richard Barsby - Aviation Photography CYEG
We, once more, pushed back and took off on time. From my seat I had a
good view of the engine and the paint on it was really dodgy;
it was flaking and looked tired and old. I was not concerned for my
safety or anything, as I'm sure AC are very careful with their
maintenance. But it did look a bit unprofessional though.
We went through the same process as before (headsets, light
refreshments, news, sports news, Go Sox!, etc.) and we eventually
landed slightly ahead of schedule.
We walked through Terminal C to reach the luggage reclaim area and it
was interesting to note that, since it was pretty late, the terminal
was completely dead. AC uses the same luggage reclaim belt as
AirTran. It did take 20-25 mins for luggage from my flight to appear
but my suitcase was, again, among the first ones to come out.
Interestingly enough, the taxi line outside Terminal C was totally
insane (it was almost as long as the front of the terminal). So, I
just bailed out of it and got on the Logal Express instead.
Lots of people in this forum constantly complain about AC and their
service. I never understood why. Minus the misunderstanding on where
I'd pick up my luggage in YYZ, I have no complaints about them. The
flights were on time, the service was good, and all the AC employees I
interacted with were pleasant, professional, and helpful. I was in
Vancouver for a conference and one of my colleagues flew over from LHR
on AC. He hadn't flown them before and he also said that he was really
impressed with their service and he felt that he had more legroom than
most other airlines he'd flown transatlantic. So, there you go. It's
not just me! I do wish that they will standardise their seats though...
During the trip, I saw two ex-AC B747-400Ms, one at YYZ and one at
YVR. This was after they were retired and they had their AC titles and
tail logo removed. They were a sad sight. They will be sorely missed.
Additionally, I also saw an AC B767-300 in the new colors when I got
to YVR. Under the daylight, the white on it had a blue-ish tinge to it
and it did look a bit different compared to the standard eurowhite
schemes. It's grown on me a little bit, but I still find it
unimaginative and I prefer the current one over it any day.