This trip report will cover:
- AC 491 YUL-YYZ Jan 28th, 2008. A319. C-FYNS Executive Class/Classe Affaires Seat 3A
- AC 420 YYZ-YUL Jan 28th, 2008. A333. C-GFAJ Executive Class/Classe Affaires Seat 1C
- AA4427 YUL-ORD Jan 30th, 2008. E145. N623AE Coach Seat 15A
- AA2313 ORD-DFW Jan 30th, 2008. MD83 N982TW (TWA) Coach Seat 14B
First of all, I am a fan of a good airport hotel, and usually try to mention them in my trip reports. At YUL, my base of operations was the Hilton Montreal Airport. My room had a great view of the domestic gates and runway 6R.
Here's the view out my window. You'll see the AC A333 getting ready to take off. Also, there was a consistent pack of snow on the ground, which I wasn't used to, as I live in Texas. Talk about culture shock. I think I caused a scene walking through downtown and trying to remain balanced!
Another one of those Skyservice narrowbodies, still in its former European livery.
View of the terminal from my room.
And a wide view.
A view of the hotel.
Inside the hotel is a very impressive wall of a big commemoration from the 1960s, on the opening of the hotel. Many airlines around the world are represented, and each stone has history of where the stone came from and how it got there. The one pictured here is one from New Orleans that Eastern flew to YUL.
So, after a weekend in Montreal, I had to go to work. I was meeting some co-workers Monday morning at YYZ, and they were arriving off the AC E170 from DFW. I planned to arrive about 45 minutes ahead of them and greet them at customs. So I booked on AC491, the 0830 A319 to YYZ "Rapidair" service.
Seat 4A in Executive Class/Classe Affaires
Almost on time
The 0900 767 service to YYZ had downgraded and they were working to get everyone they could on the A319. It was a little bit stressful at the gate. I had only brought a simple carryon that housed a book and an umbrella, just in case. I remained checked in at my hotel in YUL, as I was returning that evening (see how much I trusted Air Canada!)
Here's my plane (I think). If not, mine looked like this one!
A Dash 8. In the background, an A321 going to YYZ (the 0800 Rapidair service).
Here's my hotel from the terminal.
Finally I boarded my A319 to YYZ. The cabin reminded me of a British Airways interior, in that the bulkhead between coach and first class was a simple half partition, and the seats had the same upholstery in both cabins. It gave it a European feel, to me, especially once the flight attendants stood at attention, professionally, as the safety briefing played.
As we taxied out, the flight attendant took everyone's order for breakfast. I had managed to sit in the wrong seat, which the other guy whose seat I sat in was ok with (3A vs. 4A) but the FA kept calling us by the wrong names. oops!
Here's probably my last chance to see an Air Canada A340.
We arrived at the deicing pad, which had a nice lineup of American, Mexicana, and Air Canada as a showing of North American aviation! (sorry for waxing sentimental)
Here's a video of deicing.
And the takeoff! Listen to how hard the engines are working! And notice the snow and ice everywhere. It was January after all.
After takeoff was a nice hot breakfast. An omelet with bacon, potatoes, fruit, juice and tea. It was welcome to have such good service on such a quick flight (45 mins in the air).
The video display showed the flight map, which I was glad of. I always like to watch the map and see our speed and altitude.
During the service, the flight attendant was very professional and cordial. He went over the top, after we were into the descent and the service items were put up, when he went to each passenger in the business class cabin, individually, on bended knee, and personally thanked them by name, for choosing Air Canada and thanking them for their business. I've never seen that before on an airline. It was very impressive, and left an indelible mark in my memory of the service Air Canada offers.
Here's a very quick film I shot as we entered the clouds during our descent.
Finally (maybe after too short a time) it was time to land at the Lester B Pearson International Airport.
Here's the landing video.
Parking at the gate next to a CRJ.
Here's the (I think the only) 777-200LR. It was loaded up and ready to push for YVR. I'm sure from YVR it would then go across the Pacific somewhere, but I don't know Air Canada well enough to tell you where. I bet someone can comment on where it was going. The local time was about 10:00am approximately.
I met my co-workers at YYZ, and then we had a day of meetings. My co-workers were staying at a hotel near the YYZ airport, while I agreed to go on the trip later then they had, and the hotels were either sold out or too expensive. So I had decided to spend that night at YUL. I would meet them the next morning. They dropped me off at the airport at 4:00pm. I was booked on the 7:00pm flight, but had high hopes of getting on the 5:00pm 777.
Good news and bad news. I got on the 5:00pm flight, but it wasn't a 777 today. It had been downgraded to an A330-300. (if that's a downgrade). I was actually rather upset because the A330 doesn't have the cool new seats that the 777 does. The A330 business class seats are rather old fashioned, but at least had a pull-out TV. I was also upset because a window seat wasn't available, but I guess we can't have it all. I was in business class on an A330, so I could have done worse!
Here's a view that evening of the ramp. In front is an Air Canada Embraer, which is equipped with the same TV monitors and on-demand that the 777-300 has. To the right is my A330. Across the ramp is the international terminal with KLM 777 and AF A340 present.
Some artwork in the terminal.
My plane up close. C-GFAJ.
They gave me seat 1C, and I boarded with Executive Class/Classe Affaires. It was a rather full flight, especially compared to the same flight on Saturday that was empty.
A blurry cockpit picture, taken from my seat, 1C.
Here's a view of the business class. Comfortable but dated. A lady remarked to the gentleman she was with, "I thought you said we would have the 'spaceship' seats." He had no response.
Since I was on the aisle I didn't take any more pictures. I wish I had of the hors d'ouvres that were served. It was a 5pm appetizer service. The choices were crab cakes or a cheese plate. I chose the crab cakes, which were really good (not noticeably full of filler). This was a classy touch to their "Rapidair" service.
I wasn't approached on bended knee this time to be thanked for my custom, but the crew was very friendly and professional once again. I had good crews all three flights on Air Canada and now rate them as one of my top airlines. In fact, if I end up buying a ticket to London this summer, I'm considering buying one on AC DFW-YYZ-LHR on the E175 and 777-300, to get the video screens and good service (in coach though). I rather doubt I'll do that, but you never know.
Upon arrival we had the same drill where we were escorted through the international terminal as domestic passengers exiting the "back way" through an employee exit or something. Behind a door I could see into the immigration area. Our A330 was going to London this time I think. There was a 777-300 at the terminal, which answered my question what they were going to do being short a 777-300 in YUL. Apparently it never left (after arriving from Paris).
I went back to my hotel. The next day I was in meetings all day and was planning to catch the 6pm YUL-DFW on AA. During our meeting everyone's cell phones went crazy as AA was notifying us that the one daily nonstop to DFW had canceled! It was booked only 45 people and was canceled due to a 737 being out of service. All the guys I was with started scrambling, making plans to get out that afternoon via LGA and cutting the meeting short. I had work that had a hard deadline of noon the next day. LGA had some weather issues and so I didn't trust going that way, so I asked my boss if he minded if I spent the night at YUL, did work from the hotel, and flew back the next morning very early. He was cool with it, and I'm glad I did it. I got a lot of work done from a hotel room with nobody bothering me.
My boss sent me a text about 45 mins after they dropped me off asking if I was able to get a hotel room. As I was responding, I watched the Eagle E140 from LGA landing and texted him that his plane just touched down.
That night when my work was done, I took the shuttle over to the airport to eat dinner at an airport restaurant. While at the airport I checked in for my very early flight the next morning on the Self Service machine and asked the agent what time I really needed to be there for a 6:00am departure, knowing that I had to pre-clear customs and immigration before departure. They said 4:00am!
So I woke up at 3:00am with my wakeup call at the hotel. I set the alarm in the room, and after wondering why it didn't go off, I noticed that it said it was presently 3:00pm!! I'm glad I set the wakeup call!!
I was at the airport at 4:00am on the dot. The US border had not yet opened, and the line had wrapped around three times by the time I got in it, so they were right about getting there early. I was across the US border and through security by 4:45am, which gave me enough time to grab a morning coffee and pastry.
I was on American Eagle 4427 to ORD, which was an Embraer 145. I had selected one of the remaining single-side seats, which I love. I'm glad I did, because the flight was a lot longer than advertised! I was a bit nervous because the weather in Montreal had turned to freezing rain and rain.
We boarded up at 5:45am. The flight was full.
I think this CRJ was going to EWR, but I might be remembering wrong.
After sitting for a while, the captain said there was a maintenance issue that wasn't resolved from the crew that brought the plane in on the previous night. We sat there until about 6:30am. When we pushed out, we didn't deice, I suppose because it was now above freezing and was consistently raining.
Here's the takeoff video, which was at 6:50am. As you can tell, it was still dark as night even though it was nearly 7:00am.
The sunrise was gorgeous to watch.
After about 2 hours in the air, we began descending over Lake Michigan. I think you can see the "lake-effect snow" blowing around above the waves.
Here's the coastline as we approach Chicago and get set up for landing.
Landing in Chicago. It was colder in Chicago than it had been the whole time in Canada. It was 4 degrees! That might be the coldest air I had ever experienced, and I really noticed it in the jetbridge--once we finally got to the jetbridge.
The Penalty Box! The previous day had been an OSO day (off schedule operation) and Chicago had not yet recovered, so there were no gates available yet. We waited a full 51 minutes from when we touched down to when we were parked. The funny part was that we left the penalty box and taxied toward the G gates, then turned around and taxied back all the way to the E gates, then back to G, back to E, and then finally we parked at G. We did a bit of orbiting while we waited on our gate.
Here we are as we taxi around O'hare.
Finally at the gate, after being onboard this Embraer 145 for 3hrs 59mins!
We parked well after the departure time of my flight to DFW, so I went to the gate for the 9:20 flight, and they gave me a seat with no problem. They were however making some strange announcements.
Our plane had been there all night. Apparently the MD83, in the zero-degree weather, had frozen, and the APU was not operative, so they were warming it up with ground air. It was too cold for the flight attendants to do their safety checks for another 45 minutes.
Here is my frozen plane.
Once we got going, I got an aisle seat, so no pictures or video. It was a normal domestic flight on AA. Simple beverage service only. Nothing really to remark about.
Thanks for reading.
Comments are always welcome.