Topic Author
Posts: 236
Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2011 4:54 pm

Five Airlines, Four Different Planes

Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:09 am

I have flown a lot and worked for a major airline when I was younger so I know the ways of the biz, but this is my first trip report on a paid ticket so let me know what you think!

Planning for this trip (almost a year in advance), I knew it wasn't going to be the cheapest as flying at the holidays are not cheap. I knew if I was persistent and checked multiple sources then I would come out with at least a reasonable price and flights that I would like.

It turns out that flying from YYZ to GEG is almost always more expensive than flying from YYZ to LHR/LGW/AMS/CDG/FRA/MUC and usually takes less time to Europe as there are no non-stops to GEG. (But whyyy would there be a nonstop?).

I didn't want a return ticket as we wanted to stop over In BOS on the way back for New Year celebrations! I did my multiple search option and plugged in the cities we wanted. Ughh redeyes popped up and I thought, "what a waste" as time was limited and we didn't want to be lagged for NYE! Flying from west to east in NA is always tiresome as you have to take a redeye, early morning flight or pay a little more to get a flight were one can sleep in a little and still get to the east coast at a reasonable hour without having to rewire your sleep cycle. I wanted to know I made a good choice so I researched some more.
Then, I began to play around with how much it would be if I just bought one way tickets and if any carriers had better times other than the ones that don't show up in IATA, Expedia, Kayak...etc.
It turns out that buying One-Ways was a bit cheaper than using a multitrip search! The bonus was that I got to finally fly JetBlue as they had the time I wanted. I am not sure this is always the case, but I checked religiously everyday to find cheaper fares. I finally pulled the trigger. So the final routing for the whole trip was FIVE different airlines, five flights and four different aircraft during the holidays. Good thing we only were planning carry-ons and no checked baggage!
So the routing and airlines are:
DEN-BOS B6 494

map (1) by canadense
Getting to the airport was seamless on the TTC (though having to connect from a subway to a bus to get to YYZ is a pain, when will YTO step into the future?). We wanted to have enough time to have a late lunch before our 5:30pm departure so we left about 1p and took our time. It is always nice to have a good sleep-in and travel to the airport without the rush, especially around the holidays.
We checked-in online 24 hours prior and had our seats and boarding pass already. Since it was a long flight we opted to pay a small fee for the emergency exit’s extra legroom. It was definitely worth it on this flight. The flight from YYZ to SEA is scheduled for 5 hours but I think 5 hours is buffer time for strong headwinds and deicing. It always amazes me that this smaller plane can fly that far and that fast. Maybe they will put it on YHZ-LHR in the future!
We didn’t have to wait in any lines as we only had carry-on. So it was straight to US customs after completing the form. I was curious to see how the line up would be on a Sunday before Christmas but was pleasantly surprised that there was no line! We immediately went up to an agent got stamped and were on our way to security. Interesting that customs is before security.
We stood on the “Mat of Destiny” which gives you a green left arrow or green right arrow for crowd control to the x-ray machines. Luckily we got the green right arrow which spat us over into the priority/nexus screening line and didn’t have to wait at all to undress and put things on the belt for the scanner!
Needless to say, from the moment we stepped off the bus at Terminal 1 we had gone through customs and security in 10-15 minutes! Carry on luggage and online check-in is the way to go! Well, and getting to the airport in between airplane pushes.
YYZ, while newer, still isn’t the best airport. You must hike it everywhere. There are few shops and restaurants to choose from. It is drab and this is only Terminal 1! Terminal 3 is worse!
Molsen pub was the place to sit and get served. The hostess took it upon herself to be nice and sit us within view of TV screens because there were games on. American Football games. I am not one for football, can’t stand it. Before sitting I asked if there was spot near the window so I can see the planes and she excitingly said YES! She said it is usually kids that like to sit and see the plane. Well consider me guilty.
We had a good view of ongoing operations and in the distant you could see planes land. It was great to take our time. After our meal we decided to get our Tim’s fix and go for a walk to find a non-crowded gate and to charge up the phones. Meanwhile I snapped a few pictures. It is always nice to see the masses traveling but always interesting to see how full the airport is this time of year, especially flights down south!

IMG-20121223-00053 by canadense
I was continuing to monitor the inbound aircraft as it was coming from DEN. I had been monitoring it all week and it had always been on-time which meant an on-time departure for SEA. Of course, today would be the exception.
Some spotting of the push to Europe.

Xmas 2012 and NYE Idaho and BOS 001 by canadense
Keep in mind that I purchased each leg separately but buffered in a considerable amount of time in case of delays or irops. Our plan was to get to SEA and then fly on AS to GEG. We already had checked-in for the 11pm AS flight to GEG. AS has the flexibility that if you are flying from SEA to GEG or SEA to PDX then you can standby free for later flights.
As I continued to monitor our AC on-time performance I was hoping to get into SEA about 715pm and hoping to standby for the 8pm AS flight to GEG or the 9pm flight. Of course that probably could have happened if today had been anytime in the previous week.
Our inbound aircraft eventually arrived 30 minutes before our departure so our flight to SEA was pushed back to 5:40pm. Ok, fine, I thought, but having worked for an airline before I knew different. So we found seats at our gate and Microsoft was touting their new product so we tried it out to pass some time all in the proximity of our gate.
Since it was the holiday season I had seen on Facebook the week before that YYZ Pearson airport had holiday carollers that would go around and sing to people arriving or departing. All you had to do was tweet them the person who you wanted to be sung to and the flight number and date for free. I jumped on the opportunity but kept it a secret for my husband as I wanted to surprise him! Sure enough, he was surprised! We got to choose 2 songs and they were great! It put you in such a great holiday spirit! Who doesn’t love traveling during the holidays?

Xmas 2012 and NYE Idaho and BOS 004 COPY by canadense

Flight #1
December 23, 2012
AC 541
December 23, 2012
EMB 190
Seat 19A, 19C Exit Row
Sched Departure 17:25
Actual Departure 18:17

Capture10_34_40 by canadense

Capture18_0_3 by canadense

Capture10_34_46 by canadense
Back to the flight. Finally boarding commenced and we got to pre-board since we paid for a preferred seat. We were greeted by a nice looking crew. We sat in 19A and C. The exit row. Our carry-ons fit in the overhead without worries and we had plenty of room for our jackets. The seats were comfy and with enough pitch, width and definitely enough leg room! We started up the PTV and got settled in.
View out the window:

IMG-20121223-00056 by canadense

Our legroom:

IMG-20121223-00055 by canadense

AC 541 SEA by canadense
After taxiing across the GTA we took off on runway 23, to the southwest, i believe. We had views of Mississauga and then clouds. The FAs started their service for purchasing sandwiches and such then beverage service began along with snacks. I didn’t manage to snap picture of the snacks. The FA gave me the whole can of club soda and my husband diet coke. We tried to find some shows to watch but almost everything seemed uninteresting or I had seen. We settled on ParaNorman. Also, we were thankful to have USB plugs in the seat so we could charge our phones!
Take off:

IMG-20121223-00059 by canadense
This is the 3rd time I have taken this flight and always find it a nice ride. I like the 2 and 2 seating, but the only complaint I have is that there is only 1 bathroom for use! It gets so disgusting but the FA did straighten it up. Though, if there is a line up you have to do some odd manoeuvring to get in and around other passengers.

IMG-20121223-00061 by canadense
We finally landed in a very rainy Seattle at 8:08 and pulled into the N satellite terminal. No chance of making the 8 pm flight to GEG but we to the train over to the C gates to see if we could get on the 9pm flight to GEG but a previous flight had been cancelled and there was a standby list already going and I didn’t want to lose my place with the 11pm flight. So we decided to go and grab a bite to eat and coffee and enjoy the newer part of the terminal and watch and hear the flights take off. I always have liked the SEA airport. It is always busy especially this time of night with all the red-eyes out east. Not to mention the free wifi. Turns out our flight was delayed because of a snowstorm in GEG! Who knew? I wasn’t even warned of the weather through an app I had.

Flight #2
December 23, 2012 (well Dec 24)
AS 698

Scheduled: 11:00PM PST

Scheduled: 11:36PM PST

Boeing 737-400

Seat 15B 15C

Finally it was time to depart our 46 minute flight to GEG. After being delayed it definitely was good to start boarding. The way AS boards is interesting as they kind of coerce people to check-in their bags at the gate and reward them with letting them board first. Then, those people who weren’t going to put anything in the overhead bins could board first and those who planned on using them were going to board last. We waited and luckily we did end up having overhead space, actually i think everyone did. So while not a fan of the totalitarian gate agents and FA, it did give us the overhead bin space. Though, definitely not the classiest.
We were ingenuously rushed welcomed on board. Meaning that we the words were there but the sincerity wasn’t. We found our seats and all I can say is thank goodness that this is only a 46 minute flight. I don’t think I could do longhaul with AS. After coming off an AC flight with comfy seats regardless of exit row, the width of AS seemed to be narrow and uncomfortable. The legroom was a bit cramped. No wonder the larger heavyset people were sitting up in the extra comfort space. Nevermind, the fare was cheap and the flight short.
Leg space:

IMG-20121224-00063 by canadense
Upon landing at GEG there was snow everywhere and it looks like they just finished ploughing the runway and gate. I didn’t have easy access to my camera!
Finally time to enjoy the holidays!

After the holidays it was time to trek our way back home with a stop in BOS to celebrate the New Year. We had never been to BOS but wanted to get away this New Year to change things up. While we wanted to get to BOS on an airline that let us acquire the right points in the right alliance, we also wanted to spend the least money. Search after search gave us high fares or flight times that weren’t wanted. So I went over to JetBlue to see if they had any decent times and prices from cities around GEG. Cities like SEA, PDX, SFO, etc..west coast cities.
I plugged in DEN to see if they had a decent departure time and they did. There was a flight at 12:30 which was affordable. The next question was, “How were we going to get to DEN?” Well good thing Southwest serves that route. Though not always cheaper WN had a good price for GEG-DEN nonstop. Which leads us to:

Flight #3
December 30, 2012
WN flight 2616
Spokane Intl (KGEG)
Gate A13 Denver Intl (KDEN)
Gate C46
Actual: 06:19AM PST
Actual: 09:11AM MST

Scheduled: 06:10AM PST
Scheduled: 08:55AM MST

Duration: 1 hour 52 minutes

Capture21_4_50 by canadense

Capture10_33_2 by canadense
This flight was pretty uneventful, but this was the first time I flew with Southwest so I wasn’t fully in the know about their boarding process. I knew that they didn’t have seat assignments but surely there had to be a way (their way) of boarding the plane in a civil manner. I also gave us a buffer of just under 3 hours layover time in DEN to catch our Jetblue flight.
We printed our passes online the day before and had paid the extra $10 to get the early bird checkin which meant that we got A21 and A22 to board. So being the keener, I knew there had to be a better seat on the plane. Luckily, SeatGuru left me with the knowledge that row 11 is the only 2 seater on the plane, everything else was 3 seats across. I try to go out of my way to fly on routes that only have the option with 2 seats versus 3. I learned my lesson on completely trusting SeatGuru when I learned that the row behind the one we booked was 2 seats. We got stuck sharing the window seat with a girl from Saskatchewan on her way home from Indonesia when we flew CDG-YYZ on AF. Not pleasant on the olfactory.
We went through the TSA no problems and went to our gate. I noticed that there were large metal poles with numbers on them all in a row with Screens hanging above the first group. On one side of the poles all the A numbers lined up then B on the other and C. Of course it being so early all 20 people ahead of me boarded when called. I didn’t know what was going on and didn’t want to rush the boarding. So after 3 calls for A I was nudged forward. Most of the people that were boarded knew where they wanted to sit, and that was at the front of the plane to be the first off. Others chose the emergency exit. Luckily no one grabbed the exit row with 2 seats! We darted for them and made it! They seemed to be ok but a little cramped. Not sure I could fly cross continent with them. I wonder how BUF to LAS would be?
Our plane to DEN:

IMG-20121230-00132 by canadense
Looking back:

Xmas 2012 and NYE Idaho and BOS 080 by canadense
The flight began to fill. Seems like most were going back home. Most were sleeping because of the early departure, however not the 2 university girls who were going back to university. From what I understood (at high decibel) was that they may have gone to high school together and were going back to school. Oh they talked and yapped the whole flight preventing sleep for anyone in an earshot. Lots of high pitched SSSSSSSS and “like” and “OMG”. So annoying. Argh.
Looking out the windows. We had 2 windows due to there being no window seat.

IMG-20121230-00138 by canadense
WN on the winglet:

IMG-20121230-00136 by canadense
Legroom, would I really want to fly across the continent with this much legroom? Not sure the trip to BUF would be worth it (and no PTV).

Xmas 2012 and NYE Idaho and BOS 081 by canadense
The captain did proclaim that we would be early but I guess his prediction went haywire somewhere as we weren’t early at all though we did land around schedule. This was my first time at DEN and the view out our window was the flat part. The other side was mountainous. It was a beautiful blue sky but cold day in DEN. DEN seems a nice airport and easy to get around, but still a little bland. There was a hangar still with Continental logo. The day was great for plane watching and we did cross over the bridge to the main point to see if we could see the white peaks, but we didn’t want to go through security again. The bridge was steep and while we crossed it we saw a Frontier plane push back and approach the bridge. I thought for sure it was going to do a U-turn but to my surprise it went right under us! I didn’t expect that at all. It is something that is trivial but to me it was totally unexpected and awesome at the same time. We continued to plane spot but nothing too out of the ordinary. Frontier has lots coming and going.
Continental hangar:

IMG-20121230-00141 by canadense
Plane spotting at DEN:

IMG-20121230-00142 by canadense
This bird is about to go right under us:

IMG-20121230-00146 by canadense

IMG-20121230-00149 by canadense

IMG-20121230-00151 by canadense

IMG-20121230-00153 by canadense

December 30, 2012
JetBlue 494
Airbus 320
Dep 12:10
Actual Dep: 13:02

Capture21_4_28 by canadense
Finally we got to our gate and we were excited as this was our first flight on JetBlue. I always like to fly on different airlines. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed as there seemed to be strong headwinds for the incoming flight which came from BOS. Though, it is bad for the incoming flight, the gate agent said that our flight will experience abnormal tailwinds that might actually get us in on time even though we are about an hour delay.

IMG-20121230-00152 by canadense
We waited to board and the agents kept us informed. Finally, it was time to board. It was a mad house. The plane was delayed and everyone rushed the line. Of course the announcements were made that only JetBlue fliers and those who purchased the Even More Space were boarding, but that didn’t heed off the gate lice. We purchased Even More Space for a small fee and our seats were seats were seats 2D and 2E. We were basically elbowing our way to get on the plane even though we were supposed to be the only ones boarding. I wish all gate agents were created equal in denying those passengers boarding when it isn’t their turn.
Leg Space in seat 2E:

IMG-20121230-00160 by canadense
Pushback and saw an AA 767 in DEN:

IMG-20121230-00161 by canadense

IMG-20121230-00156 by canadense
The seats we had were great seats and at the front of the plane with plenty of space. With a little shoving and moving of coats and jackets in the overhead bin we got to put carryons in the overhead bin. We had tons of space. The crew on board were very, well…. Not really genuine on the hospitality and just going through the motions. No smiles, but just doing what they have to do. Sit down, close the bins, buckle up and no small talk. We took off about an hour late. Once we reached 10k drinks and snacks were served. Everyone switched on their PTVs and chose from the many live TV channels that were available. Although, I think half the plane was watching football which seems to be an American tradition. This flight didn’t disappoint on the loud neighbours from behind either. This time it was the seniors turn to scream, cheer, and clap at everything. (I assumed they were watching football too). Oh and don’t forget the grabbing of my seat to leverage themselves out of their seat to get up…arggh. I was dozing on and off and just when I seemed to get to sleep, WHOOOHOOOO! CLAP, CLAP, CLAP!
The FAs had a basket with various snacks which included chips, nuts, and vegie blue chips. I opted for the blue chips considering this is JetBlue and my husband got the mixed nuts. We were offered the can and snacks. While during the service a pilot decided he wanted to come out of the cockpit. So service stopped while one FA stood guard and the other talked to the pilot and got him something to snack on. This happened about twice in the flight and disrupted service. My husband asked for more nuts but the FA told him to wait. It seemed she was standing guard while the pilot got his snack and went to the washroom. It was kind of annoying, but I guess when in Rome. The FA gave us 2 more packets of mixed nuts which was appreciated.

IMG-20121230-00166 by canadense

IMG-20121230-00165 by canadense
The rest of the flight was spent watching satellite TV which passed the time quickly. Before I knew it the sun set and we were on approach to BOS. The tailwind was strong and we actually arrived nearly on-time. The landing was one of the most bumpy I had experienced. Very windy and bumpy. Finally we landed at Terminal C for JetBlue. It was nice and clean and we caught the FREE Silver Line bus under the Big Dig to our hotel, the BOS Intercontinental.

IMG-20121231-00178 by canadense
It was a fantastic hotel! We especially loved the Agraria amenities and the club lounge. The people were always friendly. Especially in the club.

IMG-20121231-00175 by canadense

IMG-20121231-00174 by canadense

IMG-20130102-00188 by canadense
Our welcome gift:

IMG-20121231-00170 by canadense
A nightly occurance:

Xmas 2012 and NYE Idaho and BOS 085 by canadense
View from our room:

Xmas 2012 and NYE Idaho and BOS 086 by canadense
After a great visit in Boston, we went back to Logan to catch our Porter flight to YTZ aka Billy Bishop. We took the Silver Line back to the airport. This time going to the airport you have to pay the fare (which was 2.50…if I remember correctly). This time we departed out of Terminal E. It also housed BA, Virgin Atlantic, and Lufthansa. It was a small terminal, but it was nice not to have to wait in line. There is always an advantage when not flying out of an airline’s hub..i.e. long lines. There was a line for TSA but it moved. There were a few duty free shops and other places to eat, but overall Terminal E is small. I noticed on the terminal map that E and C are connected. Though, it took some investigating because lack of signage, we made our way to C and some other eating options.
Plane Spotting at BOS:

IMG-20130102-00200 by canadense

IMG-20130102-00201 by canadense

IMG-20130102-00202 by canadense
New paint scheme in the future?

IMG-20130102-00198 by canadense

We made our way back to the gate and relaxed. It looked like it was going to be a full flight. Finally it was time for an ontime boarding.

Porter Airlines
Flight 946
Dep 1720
Actual 1728
Arrival 1905
Actual Arrival 1855
1 hour 27 minutes

Capture19_51_35 by canadense

Capture19_51_42 (1) by canadense

We boarded our Q400 through a jetbridge which was great! I am not sure who does the ground crew service in BOS. We were greeted by a professional looking flight attendant dressed in a nice uniform with a neck scarf. We found our seats, stowed our carryons in the overhead and got comfortable for our trip to YTZ. We were in row 5.

IMG-20130102-00208 by canadense

IMG-20130102-00212 by canadense

IMG-20130102-00219 by canadense
There is no first class on Porter but every seat has a great amount of space. The boarding door was closed and pushback was quick. We taxied past a VA flight that just landed, I am assuming from LHR.

IMG-20130102-00221 by canadense
It was a quick rotate into the air heading north then to the west. Service started immediately after 10k feet. Beverages were offered along with free wine and beer you don’t get on American carriers. I had a club soda and it was served in a real glass! We then were offered a meal box which had a sandwich and macaroni salad. Other options included nuts, chips and other snacks. Beverages were offered again and the whole can was given. The overall flight was full and uneventful .

IMG-20130102-00228 by canadense
The seats were comfy and plenty of room. The interesting part came when landing. We pulled below the clouds and the light of the sprawl could be seen along with snow. It was an interesting sight as we hovered above the freezing Lake Ontario and horizontal snow was hitting the propellers and the high beams. I haven’t landed in a snow storm in a while but quickly remembered how exhilarating it was.
Snow and Propellers:

IMG-20130102-00233 by canadense

IMG-20130102-00230 by canadense

IMG-20130102-00235 by canadense

IMG-20130102-00234 by canadense

IMG-20130102-00234 by canadense
We landed safely and pulled to our gate and deplaned with a quick pic and cleared customs and caught the free shuttle to catch the subway home. I always love flying into downtown YTZ as it is easier to get home on the subway versus flying into YYZ and having to bus it to the subway.

IMG-20130102-00235 by canadense
Overall, this trip was great with carry-ons. I would have done it with checked luggage or would have given more time for connecting. I got to fly on 5 different flights and 4 different aircraft. Most comfiest would have to be a tossup between AC and Porter, followed by JetBlue then WN and least Alaskan.
Best service in the air would have to be Porter.
Best aircraft was the Embraer 195 though I don’t like there being only one washroom. I definitely don’t like seating 3 across when travelling with 2.
Hope you enjoyed.

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