Air Canada AC839
Departure: 13:30 (actual 13:50)
Arrival: 15:45 (actual 15:47)
Actual Block Time: 7h57
Actual Flight Time: 7h42
Seat: 2K Signature Business Class - Classic Pod
I found essentially no line at either check-in or security. I received Air Canada cardstock boarding passes to Ottawa, and onward to Newark on UA. I was advised that it would not be necessary to clear Canadian customs and immigration in order to transit Ottawa, the opposite of what I had thought. I was also advised that my aircraft today was at a bus gate. I completed EU exit immigration, and after a short line at the tax refund desk, I made it to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge by 12:10. Boarding was set for 12:50, and departure for 13:30.
After a too-short visit to the lounge, at 12:40 I decided to head to my gate, B62. My boarding pass was scanned for admission to gate area, and boarding into the bus was already underway, with the gate agent calling for anyone else in business class. I got through the mob to become the last person onto the first bus. It was a very hot day in Frankfurt, and it seemed like the bus didn't even have air conditioning. Despite no further people coming onto the first bus, there was still a bit of a wait in the heat before we departed. We drove around the airport to our waiting B767-300ER, C-GHOZ, on-stand between two Lufthansa Cityline CRJ-900s. I saw two Air Canada Dreamliners parked at jetbridge gates, but the old 767 was parked over here among the regional jets. C-GHOZ was delivered to Canadian Airlines in 1989. She then flew for Varig until she joined Air Canada in 2005. A pretty old plane, with an older interior, and even an older livery, too. Nevertheless, my top choice for my flight today!
On-Stand in FRA:
Both the front and back doors were in use for boarding. I headed up the stairs and into the front door. It was enjoyable bus boarding due to minimal waiting time on the bus, but it was just way too hot. I arrived into the classic Air Canada business class cabin. I found it very stylish, with nice blue cloth seats. The aircraft had eight rows of 1-1-1 seating, with the 'A' seats exclusively on the first aisle. The 'F' and 'K' seats share the second aisle. My late booking of this trip resulted in no coveted 'A' seats being available, so I took my seat in 2K, a window seat on the second aisle, facing the 'F' seats in the center. My seat was stocked with a pillow, blanket, mattress pad, amenity kit, headphones, and a bottle of water. The mattress pad was really a high-class touch. And best of all, it was nice and cold onboard, a most welcome relief from the hot bus ride.
Air Canada B767-300ERs are equipped with AC's first generation flat-bed seats, now called the Classic Pod
. These are arranged in a herringbone configuration, as opposed to the new reverse-herringbone Executive Pod
I'd tried on the B777-300ER. Air Canada had made a great first impression on my outward journey, both in the brand new 777-300ER but also in the short regional flight E175. I was very happy to fly them home now, and even better, in a different type of seat. I was looking forward to trying the older seat on a nice, long trans-Atlantic crossing. It would also be my first time flying a B767-300ER trans-Atlantic. The 767 is a pretty common trans-Atlantic aircraft, so I was glad to finally try it myself today.
Settling in as the remainder of the guests from the first bus passed by, the seat was very comfortable and spacious, though not as spacious as the more modern seat I'd had on the way here. The screen and table were both stowed. Under the screen there was a cool blue accent light, and there were also ceiling accent lights, which were pretty cool and looked like the northern lights. To my right: the seat controls, IFE remote, power outlet, 3-prong headphone jack, and USB port. To my left: a water bottle holder and the armrest, which could be flipped up to access the magazines stored beneath. I reclined slightly as a flight attendant handed me today's menu. Eventually the second bus arrived and another short wave of passengers passed by. Bus boarding does result in a more relaxed pace of boarding.
Besides the older seats, this 30-year-old B767-300ER had an older interior in general, in particular, the old overhead compartments. The central bins couldn't seem to accommodate rollaboard bags, while the outer bins only fit them sideways, making for much less capacity than more modern planes, or even a 767 with newer interior appointments. It was not a problem for me as one of the first onboard, with minimal hand baggage, but I was curious how it would fill up as the rest of the business class passengers arrived. It turned out not to be an issue, as the load was only 18/24 today.
Welcome Screen & IFE Remote:
Screen and tray table:
Legroom & Ottoman View:
A flight attendant arrived with a tray of pre-departure beverages. I selected sparkling wine to toast Air Canada once again, as I was quite looking forward to the flight. Newspapers were offered. The purser's welcome message advised that boarding was complete. Air Canada had won the 2019 award for best airline in North America, as voted by the passengers. We look forward to presenting the award-winning Canadian service on today's flight. The flight time would be 7h45, 8h10 gate-to-gate, flying at 36,000 ft. The weather in Ottawa was partly cloudy. The message was repeated in French. The captain's welcome message, a pleasure having you onboard the flight today to Ottawa. He advised a minor maintenence issue in the rear cargo hold to be addressed. Our scheduled departure time was 13:30, but he now expected to push back at 13:40-13:45. We'd have a short taxi though, and a quick flight time, so he still expected an on-time arrival into Ottawa. It should be a good flight today, expecting a little turbulence around Ireland, but smooth across the water, and maybe a little more turbulence near Labrador. The weather in Ottawa was not as nice as Frankfurt, with scattered clouds and a chance of thunderstorms near arrival. A similar announcement was made in German.
The view from 2K, showing the ceiling accent lights:
Passengers in business class deployed the screens for the safety video. After the video, the IFE was finally enabled, so I began perusing the selection of movies. To be honest the system was just about the slowest to respond and load that I've ever had. Unfortunately I had to put the screen away for departure. Pushback came at 13:50. We quickly arrived to the runway for takeoff at 14:01. I heard engine power increasing, and feel the sensation of being pushed to my side at an angle, a sensation made possible by the angled herringbone seat configuration.
After takeoff I reclined to the relax position with my feet up on my footrest. I deployed my screen again to figure out what I wanted to watch. The system really was slow! I found several new releases to watch.
The cabin service director stopped by to introduce herself, enquire about how I like the seat, and ask if I'd be interested in duty free. Hot towels came next as I started Instant Family
with Mark Wahlberg. A couple trays were then brought out for express diners. I needed to charge my phone, and I had the USB cable in my pocket, but my USB port wasn't working. Fortunately I had the adapter in the overhead bin. The purser was back with the drink cart and warm nuts. I started with a Molson Canadian.
Appetizers (Smoked halibut, salmon, sweet potato and papaya salad with dill mustard mayonnaise
) were served with bread, either garlic bread, pretzel rolls or multi-grain. The salad was the same as last time. I also got a fresh beer.
Entrees were brought out one at a time. My choice was the fish, an Air Canada NutriCuisine
selection: Pike perch fillet with basil and spinach sauce, vegetable couscous, carrots, zucchini and bell peppers
. It was nicely plated, well-cooked and very tasty.
As soon as I finished my entree, we hit some good turbulence, and the captain asked the flight attendants to be seated.
After it passed the flight attendants were back to offer a drink refill and to remove the dishes. But the tablecloth was left behind. Oh yeah, I had almost forgot that dessert was still coming. The next cart was stocked with cheese and port. Dessert choices were fresh seasonal fruit, or chocolate, maple walnut, and pistachio ice cream. I selected the ice cream, and was pleased to receive one scoop of each flavor.
My movie finished at 16:30. I checked the moving map, and we were south of Iceland, about a third of the way there, with 5h to go. I started The Hummingbird Project
. Flight attendants were making a final pass in case anyone needed anything else. The second dessert option of the mixed fruit had looked very good, so I asked if there was any left. There was, and it was quickly brought out.
Reclining to get comfortable, I noticed the seat was lacking back support. But then I realized there was adjustable lumbar, so I adjusted it into place, and the seat became much more comfortable. I liked the seat, but if I'm honest, it was definitely a generation behind the new Air Canada seat, with less storage, less space, less privacy, and that really slow screen. But it was still a flat-bed seat with direct aisle access, making it still top of the line. Air Canada simply stepped it up another notch with the new generation seat.
Halfway through the second movie, flight attendants began making multiple passes offering water. The movie finished at 18:30, and I wouldn't recommend it. Not all stories need to be made into movies. With a little over 3h to go, the arrival snack, to be served 90 minutes prior to arrival, should be starting in about 1.5h. In the meantime I decided to recline into a bed and rest my eyes. I found a decent size bed, no complaints. Flat-bed seats, a seat which reclines into a bed, really a crazy idea.
I slept for about an hour, and woke up with about 2h left. I thought it was a perfect time for the Air Canada Signature Cocktail, which I requested, when the flight attendant, noticing me awake, asked if I'd like anything. The cocktail was freshly made with Bombay Sapphire gin, Crown Royal Canadian whiskey, cranberry juice cocktail, and a lemon garnish, and it was quite good. I began watching Brexit
with Benedict Cumberbatch.
With about 1h15 to go, tables were again being set. The light arrival meal service was starting. Today's arrival meal was Chilled plate featuring Tyrolean ham, salami, sausage, and summer pasta salad
. It was served along with either a pretzel roll or multi-grain this time. And to drink, one final Canadian beer.
This arrival meal was excellent, probably one of my favorite arrival meals. It was high quality with really great flavors. The pasta salad had a really great taste, and the coconut shavings on the fruit salad were a really nice touch.
The arrival meal was cleared, and the captain announced that we were 65 miles from Quebec. Ottawa weather was not too bad, with scattered clouds and a temperature of 27 degrees. Our arrival time should be 15:43, and it was presently 14:58. "I'd like to thank you all for choosing Air Canada."
A flight attendant made an announcement about Canadian immigration, pointing out that paper immigration forms have not been provided; instead, in Ottawa, all travelers can use kiosks.
With 30 minutes to go, we began descent, and headphones were collected. The purser came to personally thank everyone.
Landing was at 21:43, and we parked at the gate at 21:47, or 15:47 Eastern Time.
Another AC B767-300ER at YOW:
As I had suspected, all passengers needed to clear Canadian customs and immigration, unlike what the Frankfurt check-in agent had said. Ottawa is not set up as a hub for international connections like Air Canada's main hub of Toronto. As one of the first off the only international arrival at the time, it was a very easy process using the kiosk. I also had to collect my checked bags. Waiting at the carousel, I noticed there was already quite a long line for immigration - everyone else from my flight.
My final flight, YOW-EWR was to be on a UA E145 operated by Expressjet. In Ottawa Airport you must head up to the departures level, where you first clear USA customs and immigration. Even though Air Canada had provided my onward boarding pass in Frankfurt, I decided to get a new boarding pass on official UA cardstock, so for that reason I stopped at the UA counter where I was promptly informed that the flight was cancelled due to New York weather earlier in the day. The agent provided me with rebooking on tomorrow's 06:05 flight, but was unable to offer a hotel, since the cancellation was due to weather. I asked for other options to get me home today, including connecting flights, but was told nothing else was available. I took the rebooking, sat down and got on the airport's free WiFi. I noticed there was a nonstop YOW-EWR Air Canada CRJ-200, operated by Jazz, departing only one hour after my cancelled UA flight, still for sale and thus available for my rebooking. I also found a connecting UA itinerary, YOW-IAD-EWR still for sale and thus available for my rebooking. I went back to the counter to request the nonstop Air Canada flight. The agent told me he hadn't rebooked me on that because it'll probably cancel, too. After convincing him I was fine with that possibility, he had to ask a coworker how to rebook someone on Air Canada, to which the coworker replied that he had not rebooked anyone on Air Canada that day. After the agent physically went to the Air Canada counter, I was sucessfully rebooked.
Let me say that first of all, I was sure glad I had stopped at the UA counter for a new boarding pass. Had I proceeded straight to the gate, I would have left Canada, entered the USA via preclearance, rechecked my bag, arrived at the gate, and at some point hopefully realized my flight had been canceled, at which point I would have somehow had to leave the USA, re-enter Canada, and try to get a rebooking without my checked bag! Secondly, I will say I am really unimpressed with IRROPS rebooking. I am fortunate to have a very good track record with very few IRROPS situations. I can understand not wanting to rebook on another airline, but when specifically asked, even for a connecting itinerary, and there are flights available, it is unacceptable to claim there is nothing available. And nobody else had been rebooked on the best possible option, a nonstop only 1h later! Finally, I later checked the UA flight status which stated the cancellation was due to crew staffing issues. Lying about the reason for cancellation to avoid providing a hotel, and not admitting there were flights available the same day, was really terrible.
Fortunately I ended up rebooked on Air Canada, who had really impressed me on my three flights so far. I was hopeful Air Canada would come through once more, and get me home! I was excited not only for that, but also for a new, unexpected chance to try a second Air Canada regional carrier, Jazz. Even though a CRJ is normally nothing to get excited about, I was interested to see the type of service on offer on such a flight.