This was the start of my trip, with my dad, to Calgary to take in the Heritage Classic. The Heritage Classic was an outdoor NHL hockey game between the Calgary Flames and Montréal Canadiens played at the McMahon Stadium. The last Heritage Classic game was played in Edmonton in November 2003. So, my dad and I, staunch Montreal Canadiens fans, decided to meet up with my brother and his wife, who live in Southern Alberta, for this once in a lifetime experience.
My dad booked us tickets to fly to Calgary using his Air Miles. This proved to be a bit of a problem, as we we're on the same flight from Winnipeg to Edmonton, but separate flights from Edmonton to Calgary. I won't go into the details as to how I got very frustrated with Air Canada trying to get my dad on I on the same flight without having pay ungodly fees ($300 over the phone, $150 at the gate) on a $139 ticket. Anyways, lets stick to the flights...
February 19, 2011
Air Canada 8513 / Jazz Air 513
Winnipeg James A Richardson International Airport (YWG) - Edmonton International Airport (YEG)
ETD: 16:00 ATD: 15:59
ETA: 16:56 ATA: 17:21
Aircraft: Canadair Regional Jet CRJ-100 (C-FVDM)
Photo © Alevik
This was my first time on a CRJ-100. I've taken the CRJ200, before, so this was a first for me. I checked in the day before, and was able to get a window seat near the front (3D). My dad was stuck further back on seat 9A. We couldn't find two seats together, so we just went with it.
We arrived at the airport at about 14:30, and dropped of our one bag for check-in. This took all of 5 minutes, so we had some time to burn. With that in mind, we decided to do what we always do at the Airport....Grab a burger at Harvey's!
This might not seem like a big deal, but understand that this is the only Harvey's in the whole city. Going to Harvey's is something that my father and I have done since I can remember. I hope that the new terminal will continue the tradition, and have a Harvey's in it!
About the new terminal here at YWG... It is desperately needed to be finished! It is long overdue, as the existing terminal is showing its age. The ceiling tiles are black with dirt (I hope it's not mold), and it feels dated. The new terminal looks stunning, from the outside. There have been a few pictures posted about the inside of the new terminal. There still is no timeline for when they expect it to open, though. It was suppose to open in 2010, but we still wait.
Back to the report. We proceeded through security at about 15:00, and breezed right through. I grabbed a Tim Horton's coffee, and proceeded to gate M to wait to board. Winnipeg still uses lettered gates inside. Boarding was suppose to start at 15:20, but it didn't start until 15:35.
The plane was 100% full, and pushed back at 15:59. We had to stop for deicing, which took about 10 minutes or so. On the way to the runway, though, the plane stopped and 'revved' the engines for about 3 minutes. Why? I do not know. Things returned to normal, and we continued to taxi to runway 36.
The wait wasn't long on the runway, as the engines spooled to Take-off thrust, and we barrelled down the runway. Soon, we were airborne, leaving the winter wonderland of Winnipeg behind.
The flight itself was uneventful. The landscape outside was white. White clouds against a snow covered ground. There wasn't much to see on the way. So I slept most of the way.
The CRJ100 proved to be dreadfully uncomfortable. The seats are SO narrow, and squished right up. Also, the plane was absolutely filthy. The seat was dirty (full of crumbs), and I found old gum wrappers, half-chewed gum, and random scraps of paper in the magazine holder. It was disgusting.
The snack service on the plane was a very salty packet of pretzels and drink. Nothing impressive. I had the pretzels and a small cup of diet Coke.
After an hour and a half of feeling like a sardine, we started to descend into Edmonton. The descent into Edmonton was quite nice, as the sky was clear, and we came in from the southeast. As the airport is directly south of the city, it provided for a nice view of the entire city and skyline. We touched down, and proceeded to the gate. The arrival time was officially 17:21, approximately 25 minutes late.
As soon as we got off the airplane, they said the returning flight to Winnipeg was going to be further delayed by a 'technical' issue. I wonder if that had something to do with the engines revving before we took off.... hmmmm.
All of the CRJ and Dash 8 flights in Edmonton arrive through a finger extension at the middle of the terminal, called Gate 49. We arrived at 49J, which was right at the end of the extension.
At the gate check-in, I asked to see if I could be switched to the 18:00 flight to arrive with my dad. The long-and-short of it was NO, because we had Tango tickets. I ranted about this in the Travel Prefs and Poll forums, so I won't get into again here. Needless he left at 18:00 with 40 out of 50 people on the plane, and I left at 19:30.
This was the first time I was in the Edmonton Airport. I have to say that it is very, very nice! It is very open and modern! I hope that the new terminal took a page from the design book of Edmonton's renovated terminal.
February 19, 2011
Air Canada 8157 / Jazz Air
Edmonton International Airport (YEG) - Calgary International Airport
ETD: 19:30 ATD: 19:42
ETA: 20:09 ATA: 20:18
Aircraft: DeHavilland Dash 8-300
Photo © Wilco737
The boarding of this flight happened on time, but we left about 10 minutes late.
I had one of the most surreal experiences on this plane. After the plane was loaded, and the doors closed (which was appreciated because it was cold outside!), they turned off the lights and we waited for the engines to start. It took almost 5 minutes, and the whole plane sat in silence. You could hear the wind whistling outside, and nobody spoke. This was impressive, as most of the plane was full! Finally the engines started, and we taxied to the runway.
I was seated in seat 9F. I had a wonderful view of the back of the engine for the whole flight. I tried to take some video of the takeoff and landing, but it didn't turn out because it was too dark.
The snack service for this flight was juice, apple or orange. No pop/water/coffee/tea/monster(sorry, Animaniacs reference!) available. If you didn't like juice, you were screwed.
We arrived into Calgary almost 10 minutes late. Overall, the Dash 8 was noisier than the CRJ, but the seats and cabin were WAY more comfortable. I have always liked the Dash 8 aircraft!
We arrived at the regional gates of Calgary airport, which appear to be a long line of sea-shipping containers on the runway tarmac. I hope that they finish renovating that area of the airport soon!
The Hockey Game
The Heritage Classic itself was awesome! The game was colder than expected, but fun to be at nevertheless. My team, the Montreal Canadiens, got their butts handed to them, though. It was really the only downside to what was a wonderful weekend!
We had a great time take in the festivities and activities surrounding the game. If you every get a chance to take in an outdoor hockey game, do it! The atmosphere and activities or better that the game!
The Flight Home
February 21, 2011
Calgary International Airport (YYC) - Winnipeg James A Richardson International Airport (YWG)
ETD: 06:30 ATD: 6:35
ETA: 09:24 ATA: 9:03
Aircraft: Boeing 737-600
Photo © Alevik
We woke up pretty early to catch the shuttle to the airport for 4:30AM. We arrived at the Westjet counter of the departure halls, and found it to be a hive of activity. Many early flights were leaving for the 6:00-7:00 time frame. We had to wait about 15 minutes in line to drop off our checked bags. The line at security took about 5 minutes to get through, and then off to gate D46.
We stopped to grab a bite to eat at Tim Hortons, and the lineup was very long. We had just enough time to eat our bagel before we headed to the gate for boarding. The D pier of the gates in Calgary looked pretty neat, and they had a activity center for the kids to play at. It's a nice touch.
At 6:00, they started boarding the aircraft, and soon after everyone was on-board. The plane was nearly 100% full. This particular plane was continuing on to Ottawa after the stop in Winnipeg.
At 6:35, we pushed back and had a long taxi out to runway 34. We didn't wait for anybody to take-off in front of us, and were soon airborne!
I don't remember too much of the flight, as I slept for pretty much the whole flight. As the sun rose, the ground presented as a cascading sea of...white..snow. *sigh*. Is Winter almost done yet?
At 8:38, we started to descend into Winnipeg. We were north of Portage La Prairie, over Lake Manitoba. The plane continued to descend into Winnipeg coming in from the northwest, and eventually going around the west of the city and coming in over the southwest corner to line up with runway 36.
The flight arrived a little early. When we got off the plane, the small gate area for all of the Westjet flights was packed with people, ready to travel on. Westjet seems to have a good focus city/small hub going in Winnipeg.
Overall impressions of Air Canada (or Jazz in this case) were 'meh'. It wasn't terrible, but not terribly good either. I found the Flight attendants and Gate Agents to be VERY robotic. The service was consistent across both flights, but it was consistently mediocre. A smile goes a long way, ladies and gentleman.
Overall, the Westjet flight was much nicer than the Air Canada one. The plane was clean, inside and out, and the seats were a ton more comfortable. Also, the employees talked with you, not at you. It is a critical difference.
The one thing I am annoyed about on the Westjet IFE is the Moving map, and the desire to have rotating ads every 5 secs. Show the map for 5 seconds, ad, ad, ad, map, ad, ad, ad, map, ad, ad, ad... You get the picture.
The terminals at Edmonton and Calgary are very nice. Calgary is going through a construction phase, but it is still nice. The new terminal in Winnipeg has to open soon. The current terminal is a dump.
Check out this quick video I made with my iPod and iMovie called My Winnipeg (Airport). It is a 5 minute look into the current Winnipeg Airport Terminal.
My Winnipeg (Airport)
Thanks for taking the time to read this report!
My next flights are to Orlando via Denver, returning to Winnipeg via Chicago. I hope to have more videos and pics for that report.
I look forward to hearing your feedback. Thanks again!