At the start of the fall 2018 semester I began to research options for me to intern overseas and have a study abroad experience. After evaluating programs in France, Georgia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Canada I applied for Onwards Israel, and got wait-listed for one of their Haifa programs and accepted into their Be'er Sheva program. Onwards Israel is a partially subsidized internship where you just have to pay for flights+ a small activity fee. Shortly after getting in, my family decided that because my mother has not been to Israel since the 1970s, we would take a family trip right before my internship began. As always, feedback is appreciated.Booking
Initially, we looked into flying on the LY nonstop. We ruled this out because my parent's return flight would have involved a layover at JFK (which is a no-deal issue for my dad). As a kid, I thought that certain airlines seats looked really comfortable- with AC's old long haul seats being one of them. This led me to investigate using AC's TLV-YUL flight, because it is operated by the A333 which still has those seats. The dates for that flight happened to line up with my return from Israel, and happened to have a reasonable layover length in YUL and be timed so that I could get home and just crash. For the outbound leg, I discovered that I could book LX's A343 from BOS-ZRH, have a short layover in ZRH and then hop onto an LY B739 to fly the rest of the way. In total, this itinerary would have given me 1 new airline (AC), 3 new types (A343, B739, and CR9), and would have allowed me to check off a bucket list item (the AC Y seat) before the aircraft is refurbished in the fall. My booking was done via ITA Matrix/Orbitz, and my parent's round trip booking with LX was done via their website.AC 83Online Check In
After 2 months of intensive biochemical and anaerobic microbiology and many day and weekend trips traveling all over Israel, it was time to go home. Approximately 19 hours before my flight was scheduled to depart I logged into the AC website in order to check in for my flight home. When I logged into the online check in portal, I found that even though the LX app showed my seat for the flight as 27A, I had been swapped to 32K, a seat with limited recline, right by the lavatory. Luckily, I was able to swap it to 41A, a window seat that did not have this problem. I was also able to add my UA frequent flyer number onto this reservation (for some reason it did not show up). Once checked in, I sent the electronic boarding passes to my phone, and then went out to revisit the Sarona market and watch the sunset on the beaches of Tel Aviv.At the Airport
At 8:15 in the morning my Gett rolled through the first of many security checkpoints at TLV airport. About 5 minutes later, I was at the main terminal, where I got randomly selected by a security agent who appeared to be on break, for a brief pre-entry security screening. After a quick passport check, walk through the metal detector, and visual inspection of my backpack I was through. Once inside I made a bee-line for the Air Canada check in desks in section B. After a short wait, I was called up for my security interview by a trainee security interviewer. After an intensive grilling (for security reasons I will not discuss any specifics of what I was asked), a sticker with a number 1 was affixed to my passport and checked bag and at 8:40 I was allowed to proceed to the check in desks, which did not have any sort of signage on them to identify them as being AC desks. As I approached the front of the line someone pointed out that the screens above the check in desks were blank, and the AC signage was loaded up on it. The check in process was fairly quick, and my bag was tagged all the way to BOS, and I was issued with a proper card stock boarding pass.
I immediately proceeded to the security checkpoint, which had almost no line, and was very painless. Afterwards, I headed for exit immigration, which since the last time I had been at TLV had been upgraded to smart kiosks, with private security agents present to help people as needed. By 9AM I was in the terminal and I began to walk around and plane spot. Unfortunately, the TLV airport is not designed that well for planespotting (they have those black dots on the windows, and the jetways block the view), so I don't have a lot of decent quality photos, but the spotting itself was excellent- I saw many small airlines from Central Asia.
XC and NO B738
After a little bit, I stopped into the TLV airport record store, where I took advantage of the 3+1 deal to buy 4 albums of Israeli music (one each by Sarit Hadad, Toure Collective, Eyal Golan, and Roni Dalumi). Once done at the store, I started walking towards my gate (C9), so that I could plug my phone in to charge (which ended up being a difficult task because several of the charging stations were not working).
AC B789. Man am I going to miss this livery when its gone.
At 10:12 C-GFUR, my 19.2 year old A333 for the long haul from TLV to YUL pulled into the gate, leading to a 15 minute delay being announced. The email I received from AC about this delay stated it was for schedule issues.
This is the best image that I could get of C-GFUR.
While I was waiting for boarding to begin, I caught several crew members (including the captain) ducking into the smoking booth to take a final smoke before getting on the flight to TLV. While the crew took their final smokes, some passengers began to line up to board (talk about premature).
At 11:07 (after the crew had boarded), zones 1+2 were called to line up for boarding, and at 11:16 they were called to board the aircraft. A few minutes later, my zone (zone 3) was called to board, and I was one of the first people from this zone to board the aircraft.Onboard
As I entered the aircraft, I was greeted by the flight attendant, who directed me to my seat, 41A. While the cabin itself is fairly old, it looked pretty well maintained, even though it had not been cleaned thoroughly between flights (probably because they were rushing to try to get the aircraft back on schedule).
The AC A333 seat
Side view of the A333 seats
As I settled into the seat, I was struck by how spacious it felt- it did not feel cramped at all, and it had a generous amount of leg room. As a kid, I thought that this style of AC seat looked extremely comfortable. In practice it was not as comfortable as I thought- for the most of the flight it felt simply OK, and their were a few times where the lack of padding in the seatback left me a little sore. Once I was settled in, I began to planespot. As I planespotted, my seatmate boarded, and I found out that I had assigned myself to a seat right next to a mother traveling with a very well behaved lap infant, who was also connecting on to BOS.
At 11:30 the captain made his announcement, saying that push back would be in 10 minutes, we should arrive into YUL about 10 minutes early, and it should be a very smooth flight. Interestingly, he made his announcements in both French, English, and Hebrew. At 11:50 boarding was announced as completed and we began to just sit there. During this time, the FA's made an announcement in both English and French that we had a takeoff slot in 10 minutes and that people needed to sit down and fasten their seat belts, or else we would miss that slot and be unable to depart. The FA's also came around offering a special briefing to parents with lap children. They actually missed my seatmate initially, because she had tucked her child under the blanket so that he could nap and be asleep during climb out (to minimize screaming). The FA's also came through the cabin passing out children's activity kits to kids under a certain age, and making small talk with them and their parents.
LY B738 and B772, A3 A320
After a little bit of waiting, the Captain came on the PA and announced that the catering company had not provided us with enough dry ice to keep the inflight meals at a safe temperature, and that we would wait another 5 minutes for the dry ice to arrive before leaving without it. Right as this announcement was made the dry ice arrived and was quickly loaded onto the aircraft.
At 12:07, 1 of our 2 flight service directors made a welcome aboard announcement, and stated that their staff could provide service in 4 languages (English, French, Hebrew and Arabic). A minute later we pushed back, and about 5 minutes after that we began to taxi. As we began to taxi, the bilingual French and English safety video began to play as the FA's stood in the aisles and watched the cabin. While the video was playing, someone actually stood up and opened one of the bins, causing one of the flight attendants to spring into action to get them back into their seats. After the video a series of advertisements played.
E175 from an unidentified airline (anyone know which one)
At 12:25 we commenced a powerful but still somewhat slow takeoff from TLV runway 26. As we climbed out of TLV, the entertainment system reactivated.
The view on climbout
One last glimpse of the Mediterranean Coast.
As we climbed above 10,000 feet, I activated the entertainment system and began to explore its offerings.My first impression of it was that it was definitely showing its age- the system was very slow to respond to commands. Once you got past that, it had an excellent selection of movies and TV shows on offer. Its music selection was curated by stingray, and it looked like it had a good mix of different genres, and a small selection of international music. The only other downside to it was that each movie started with several minutes of ads. I also checked out the moving map, which showed that our flight route would take us straight North out of TLV, crossing over Bucharest, before starting to turn West, crossing in between Denmark and Sweden, starting our TATL crossing off the coast of Norway, and flying just South of Iceland.
Once done exploring the system, I selected "Aquaman" as my first movie (mainly because I wanted to see it but did not have a chance to). About 12 minutes after takeoff, the seat belt sign was turned off, and the Service Manager came on and announced the service schedule for the flight: distribution of headphones, lunch, duty free, snack, and then a pre-arrival hot meal.
At 12:52 they began to pass through the cabin with special meals, and about 15 minutes later the carts began to roll down the aisle. Like almost all flights to and from TLV, 3 carts were used: 1 for Kosher meals, 1 for regular meals, and 1 for beverage service. When the kosher meal cart reached my seatmate, I was asked by the FA to lower my tray table so that my seatmate could place her meal on it and eat while her kid napped, which I gladly did. After about 20 minutes, I was offered either chicken or fish. I chose the fish, and I skipped on a beverage because the meal tray included a small bottle of water.
The meal tray
The main course
The meal consisted of an Israeli style salad which tasted fresh, but was very slightly under-dressed for my taste. The entree was probably one of the best that I have had since I had the grilled chicken and saffron rice on my first trip with LX. It consisted of a piece of tender white fish stuffed with spinach and accompanied by a sweet, thick tomato sauce. I can be very picky about how spinach and tomato sauce are prepared, and I enjoyed both. The fish was accompanied by a good portion of rice with some sort of grain (quinoa?) in it. The roll was good when slathered with butter, and desert was a chocolate cake which I passed on (I'm not a big chocolate person).
At 13:47, trash collection began, followed by a second beverage service complete with hot tea and coffee and then another trash service. Once my tray had been collected, I pulled out some leftover cookies that I brought on the flight and enjoyed them as I watched my movie. While I was doing this, the FAs began to set up a self service bar in the back galley, which contained an assortment of soft drinks, water, and Lotus cookies and pretzels. They also came through the cabin every now and then offering water runs.
My leftover cookies
After a little bit, my seatmate got up to let her kid stretch, and I went to use the lavatory. When she returned to the seat, she offered me a few of the snacks from the back and I grabbed one of the louts cookies for later. Somewhere over the Carpathian Mountains, the seat-belt sign engaged due to about 5 minutes of light turbulence.
After my movie finished, I switched over to the music section, selected the "Chill Brazilian" playlist, and proceeded to read through a couple of scientific papers for my upcoming capstone project. While I was reading, my seatmate let me know that she was going to switch seats with someone else so that she could have an empty seat next to her for her kid. While I read we also climbed from 36,000 feet to 38,000 feet.
As we crossed between Denmark and Sweden, I finished up my reading and selected the very interesting Korean movie "Innocent Witness" as my next film. About 25 minutes into the film, the cabin lights came on and the flight attendants began to pass through the cabin with the snack service. During the snack service, Kosher meals were served from a tray, and their was some confusion because both my new and old seatmates had different special meals (one had Kosher the other had a vegetarian meal). The person in front of me also had an issue because she got the vegetarian snack when she had ordered the vegan snack. When she told the flight attendant who gave it to her, she was told that that was all that they had. Yet, when the beverage cart reached her, she told the FA working that cart, who went back and returned fairly quickly with a vegan snack. I noticed a similar thing happen with her dinner later in the flight. Another curious thing during this snack service was my aisle was served our snacks from a tray, while the other aisle got them from a small trolley. The options for snack were cheese or tuna, and I selected the cheese. I also had a glass of water.
The snack wrapped
The snack consisted of a soft pita with a thick schmear of cream cheese with some green onion inside. While not a lot, it hit the spot nicely and was very tasty. I also paired this up with that biscoff cookie that my old seatmate gave me at the start of the flight.
Before the FAs had even finished collecting the trash the lights were dimmed again, and once the trash was collected my new seatmate and I got up to stretch and use the bathroom. Lines were long because the bathrooms were being cleaned and restocked at that time. While I waited, I spotted one of the FA's making small talk with a passenger about the game he was playing on his phone. Once I returned to my seat, my seatmate asked a flight attendant to reset his entertainment system because it had froze (I think it was the second time this screen froze), which was done promptly.
As we passed South of Iceland I finished up my second movie and then selected the very interesting Five Feet Apart.
About 2:40 from landing the movie finished and I got up to go to the bathroom and stretch. While up, I also snagged another biscoff cookie for later. When I returned, I plugged my phone in and found the USB port was not working, so I then tried the Empower outlet which was working. I then went on to have a long conversation with my new neighbor (a man connecting to Fredricton) about a variety of things including healthcare and education. As we talked one of the kids near us asked me to open my window, which I gladly obliged and saw we were flying over Newfoundland. He then proceeded to pull out a Lego set and began to work on it (which is definitely braver than anything I ever would have done as a kid). About 20 minutes later the cabin lights came on and and soon after the seatbelt sign was illuminated for another 6 minutes of turbulence. In his announcement the Captain remarked that we could not get around it, and were cruising at 40,000 feet.
About 1:40 from landing our chat finished and I selected an episode of Bob's Burgers in the entertainment system. Right around then the FAs began to come around and deliver special meals. Several people around me had issues with their special meals (partially because they had swapped seats) but they were quickly resolved by the flight attendants. About 10 minutes after that the dinner service began. By the time the FA's reached my row they only had the beef option available, which I selected. Because their was no water bottle on the tray this time, I had a glass of water off the beverage cart.
The meal tray
The meal started out with another fresh tasting Israeli style salad- this time one that also contained some couscous. The entree was a beef stew served with mashed potatoes and peas and carrots. The beef was tender, the mashed potatoes were creamy and clearly made from real potatoes (not instant), and the vegetables tasted fine. My only issue with the dish was that it tasted a little salty for my tastes. The roll was fine when smeared with butter, and desert was a lotus cookie which I enjoyed. As I ate, the person in front of me (who was vegan but kept receiving vegetarian meals) offered me her butter because she did not want an animal product to go to waste. I politely declined because I didn't really need a second butter.
At 15:47 Montreal time, the captain made his announcement saying we should landing at YUL around 16:40, and that it could be a little gusty during the last few minutes of our approach. About 10 minutes after this announcement the cabin crew began collecting trash. They also came around and collected small change to be donated to charity (I'm not really sure which one).
190 miles from YUL we began our descent, and at 16:09, 30 minutes to landing was called. As we started our descent, I pulled out the AC magazine to practice my French a little. As we crossed through 10,000 feet the seat belt sign was activated and the cabin was prepared for landing.
Views from descent
Views from descent
Views from descent
Now on final
Around 16:40 we had a soft landing into YUL.
Assorted heavies preparing for their TATL journeys
Assorted heavies preparing for their TATL journeys
After a 5 minute taxi we pulled into gate 64 at YUL. Within about 11 minutes, I was off the plane and in the terminal.
I kind of like this bulk head pattern.
I felt like the crew on this flight were a mixed bag. Some of them were excellent, some did the job and not much else, and others struggled with completing basic passenger requests (like the one who kept on not even trying to resolve the vegetarian/vegan special meal mix-up).Overall Weighted Score
NOTE- the food score is a simple mean of the following: lunch- 5/5, snack- 4/5, dinner- 3.5/5
3.93/5Connecting in YUL
Once I was in the terminal at YUL, I immediately pulled out my phone and began to connect it to the wifi as I began to quickly walk towards flight connections. I didn't take any photos as I walked because I had a tight connection due to the late arrival into YUL. Once I was able to get onto the WiFi, I received an email from AC that my flight had been delayed for scheduling issues, so I slowed down and stopped rushing.
After a pretty good walk, I arrived at the US transborder flight connections. At the preclearance station, they have screens posted with each flight, peoples names, and whether they should continue to the next step (they do this because they need to have our baggage in their system before we can start going through processing). I was able to quickly find my name on the screen with the green "proceed to step 3" next to it. I then approached the APC kiosks, where I was able to quickly fill out my declaration. Once through, my boarding pass was scanned by one of the workers, who asked me if I had checked the monitor before proceeding. Once done, I went through the reasonable security line. While I was waiting in line, I overheard one of the workers comment that they had not received any of the baggage for the flight to LAS, and the gate was closing soon. Once through security, I proceeded directly to the 2 CBP officers who were processing all the flight connections, and I had to wait a bit because it took a while for them to process everyone. Once through I went to the gate and then walked around and planespotted a little.
A better view of my AC A333 from TLV
I ended up running into my old seatmate from the flight from TLV at the gate, and she commented that she was the last person on the BOS flight to have her bags show as green.
At 18:20 a DH8D was towed into our gate. I then checked my app and noticed we had been gauge changed- marking a second spotting goal of mine that would not be met this trip.
C-GGNW, my 7.9 year old DH8D for the flight to BOS.
A few minutes after our aircraft was pulled into the gate they began to make announcements that they needed 3 people to check their bags because of how full the flight was.
At 18:35 I was paged to the desk so that AC could reissue my boarding pass with a new seat assignment (8A) because my old assignment (23A) did not exist on the DH8D. A few minutes after, boarding zones 1 and 2 were called. Shortly after, my zone (zone 3) was called and I promptly boarded the plane.AC 8464
As I stepped onboard the FA was standing there by the door, but did not offer any sort of greeting. I quickly made my way to my assigned seat, 8A.
The seat itself was comfortable enough for the short flight, and it had a good amount of leg room.
At 18:55 the Captain made his announcement and said our cruising altitude would be 25,000 feet, and then he discussed the weather at BOS. At 19:00, the lead FA made her announcement, and then 3 minutes later the door was closed and we immediately began to push back. 2 minutes later the FAs started their manual safety briefing by announcing that people should take their headphones out for the demonstration and then they could immediately put them back in. A few minutes later we began to taxi.
AC E175 in the old livery
QR A332 on loan to AC
AC A333. Did I mention how much I'm going to miss this livery
At 19:23 we executed a powerful takeoff from YUL. 5 minutes after takeoff the FA made an announcement outlining the service that would be available (beverage run).
Once I estimated we were above 10,000 feet I turned my music on and continued looking out the window.
Maybe it was the lack of sleep but I felt that these clouds looked beautiful.
When the flight attendants got to me I skipped the beverage and just had the pretzels that came with it.
I spent the rest of the flight enjoying my music and the view.
At 19:50 the seat belt sign was turned off. 6 minutes later we began our descent, and 3 minutes after that the seat belt sign was turned back on. At 20:05 the FA's began preparing the cabin for arrival. At 20:17 the gear dropped down into place, and 3 minutes later we executed a firm, bouncy landing. As we turned off the runway, one engine was shut down and we did a single engine taxi to gate B1, where we arrived at 20:30, about 1:08 late. Once in the gate, it took them a few minutes to set up the jetway adapter so that the DH8 could connect to it.
Once off the plane, I made a quick pit stop at the bathroom before heading directly to the baggage claim. After a long wait, the bags came and I was off to try to find my mother.Overall Weighted Score
Of the North American carriers that I have flown on, AC's long haul product is probably the best that I have experienced. Their short haul product was perfectly adequate, and the connection experience in YUL was fairly smooth (even with a major delay). While I would not go out of my way to fly them again, I would definitely use them again if it made sense.
From a spotting perspective, I only accomplished 2 of my 4 goals (the A340 and AC A333), but I'm not super worried because the other goals should be fairly easy to accomplish (one of them, the CRJ9, is already planned for my next trip). Log Book and Previous Trip Reports
, offering a comparison of this flight to previous flights that I have taken.
2019Onwards and Upwards Part 1: Swiss and El Al BOS-ZRH-TLVThe Milwaukee Way WN BOS-MKE-BOS
2018Porting it to and from TorontoSouthwest to Milwaukee and Back (with a surprise)Air France, CSA Czech Air, and Alitalia to Prague, Bratislava, and Budapest
2016From my Archives: Summer '16 rescheduled and delayed with Iberia, Vueling, and British Airways
2015From my Archives Summer '15 Shuttle America: Do they actually meet Delta's Standards?
2014From my Archives: Summer '14 Returning from Israel One of the Only Ways Available El AlFrom my Archives: Summer '14 Outward bound to Poland and Israel with LHFrom my Archives: Winter '14 From Sunny Spain to Snowy Boston, KLM and Delta to Boston