Hola a tothom!
March 23rd, 2008
Going back home is always the sad part of holidays and it hit me on March 23rd. My day starts quite early and the first thing I do is get to my computer to check for loads and get my boarding passes for the day: 3 are needed but only two of them come on the system; the FRA
leg is not there so I fear I maybe left in Germany and prevented from going back home.
The second thing I try to sort out is the easiest way of getting from my aunt's, 25th Ave SW
, to Calgary's airport in public transport. For those of you unaware of the fact, let me tell you that public transport in the Americas is not as deployed as in Europe and, for example the Transit Calgary Authority gives you an itinerary involving three bus changes... So I go for the itinerary I have known for years and seems the fastest: Light Train to downtown to get onto the Northern West line up to Whitehorn where you catch the Bus #57 to the airport.
My trip starts here.
First transport of the day
Calgary Light Train on a Sunday Morning
Anyone interested. Waiting for the bus driver
Being a Sunday morning traffic is very low and the trains come every ten minutes, no big deal but waiting for the bus where I am the only passenger for about 20 minutes starts to freeze me, it is about 2 ºC. Luckily the stop is pretty close to the airport at the end of the runaways so you can see planes departing: many Westjet B737s, AC320s and some AC
-CRJs lifting this morning to other Canadian cities. No intercontinental flights in the morning.
Before noon I am already at the airport and I proceed to check in at the AC
desks located at one of the ends of the airport.
Calgary airport departures outside
Check in islands for AC
Check in counters for AC
The usual islands with lots of check in automated machines is not very crowded and there are two Business Class counters busy at the moment. When the guy at the desk is directed to the bulky baggage scanner to check that big thing inside his bag is really a snowboard I am called to advance to the check in desk. The lady there was very gentle.
Agent: 'Good morning! Where are you traveling today?'
Me: 'Good morning! Well, first YVR
, then FRA
and finally BCN
Agent: 'Oh I see! Mr Franquesa, may I ask you if you would have any inconvenience in taking flight AC213 which has a bigger equipment and you can enjoy more time in our beautiful YVR
lounge, so you wouldn't need to hassle through connection in case that flight were late?'
(When asked so politely and nicely I cannot refuse such an argument although I was eager to fly the CRJ to YVR
! No problem. What's the equipment for this 213 flight?'
Agent: 'It's a new refurnished A320. You see, your original flight has moved to another smaller equipment and we are trying to move as many passengers as possible to this earlier flight. Obviously at no cost'
Me: 'Let's go then. Thanks a lot and happy Easter'
Agent: 'Happy Easter to you too, have nice flights Mr Franquesa, going to BCN
Me: 'Not really, I actually live there. I have come to YYC
to visit some relatives.'
Agent: 'Oh! I see, thanks for flying with us.'
Me: 'Thanks to you. Bye now'
Agent. 'Bye and enjoy your flights!'
With such a pleasant beginning I start to think that AC
has a very good service, let's see what do they have to offer for the rest of the day.
After wandering around for a while I head through security in no time. And I head to the lounge which is just in front of it.
The gates to open the lounge are heavy and you need to have had a good breakfast to pull them open. Once inside I am greatly surprised by a much bigger lounge than last time and excellent views of the tarmac.
The day is clear and although there is not much movement I can see some AC
flights departing to YYZ
Help yourself at the YYC
Food choice at the YYC
Need a warm soup after waiting for the bus for 20 min. in Calgary early spring
Nice view of the lounge. There's even a fireplace and some armchairs around
My view of the tarmac with this nice E90
Killing some time at the computer. Notice the web page, sounds familiar?
I am savoring some of the munchies at the lounge which looks best equipped IMO: great choice of food, including soup and fruit, plus a great selection of drinks of all kinds.
It is about time to leave for the gate. Say goodbye to the agent at the door and head to the gate, pretty busy A concourse and my gate is still closed.
The A gates area
My gate to YVR
Our plane being serviced at YYC
Side view of the plane at YYC
Fellow passengers on my flight
As I get there they start calling for boarding and I am one of the first on line.
I am welcomed onto the plane who takes my boarding card and greets me by name as he asks to take my jacket and hang it on the closet. Thanks Patrick, our Quebecois purser for today's flight.
Jet way to the plane. Notice the heating on the floor. Much needed in winter
I take my seat and as I am about to enjoy the free seat on my side a last passenger appears and takes it.
I guess they have done a great job in moving passengers to this flight as it is full both in Y and C. Before we are pushed back a nice FA
distributes newspapers with a small towel to remove ink from your fingers once you are done with it.
View fro my seat before the planes start to fill up
Very comfortable seats, nice legroom on AC
View of the new AVOD system on AC
Safety demonstration is done manually while the purser tells us both in English and French.
Then the FO comes on the system and informs about the routing and the 36,000 feet we will be flying as well as the flying time, 1hour and 41 minutes (I did not check it, but promise to do it next time)
We head to the end of the runaway and once a Westjet 737 lands we start roaring and lifting above the Alberta skies. I am seated on the left side and I have a great view of YYC
and we head SW
until we turn West and I am able to see my Calgary home for a last time.
Calgary city center right after take off
By the Elbow river is my Calgary home
Once we reach the beginning of the Rockies clouds appear and there is no sign of them, what a pity, I'd love to see them.
My only view of the Rockies today
Meanwhile service has started at the front rows. The purser distributes the food while another FA
writes down your drink orders and brings them from the galley.
There are two choices: Crab Muffins or a Cheese Platter. I go for the later and when I taken my order for drinks I ask for some red wine.
: 'What can I get you to drink, sir?'
Me: 'Some red wine please'
: 'Would you like some Argentinean one or some Canadian one?'
Me: 'If it is not going to hurt your national pride I'd go for the one from Argentina.'
: 'Sure not sir'
I start to savor the cheeses when the FO comes on the system and informs about the flight development and tells us that we they will switch on the seat belt sign earlier than expected in our descend as the weather in YVR
is quite rough today.
My cheese platter. Nice for this short flight
Spot the differences with the previous picture.
Every time my cup is empty the FA
comes around with some more, as I am reading and listening to some music on the great AVOD system it goes down very well and three more times it is topped with this nice choice.
AVOD while listening to Paul Potts' first record. Tiny but OK
As anticipated by the FO they switch on the seat belt sign right before we start our descend. As we cross the first clouds the flight turns bumpy and it stays so until we land in YVR
. We take the approach over the sea and the plane runs to the end of the runaways until full breaks are applied to stop it. We turn and get to the gate in no time.
Somewhere under these clouds lies YVR
This flight has been so far the best of my trip and I am more than pleased with AC
service, please keep it up like this and I will fly with you again and spread the word.
Again a great airport is ready to welcome me.
I head outside and have a nice walk around. I notice something interesting. There is a terminal dedicated to Domestic flights, one to International flights and one to US flights.
Construction of a metro link to Vancouver
Find your way at YVR
My departure area I guess
Favorite A.netters hotel at YVR
As I walk along the terminal inside I see the counters for all the airlines serving YVR
. There is an area dedicated to Premium passengers but it is closed although vastly advertised outside the airport.
International Departures information
More detailed information
Check in area for AC
Once I am done with all this walking outside I head for the departure area.
Nice sculpture inside the terminal
Woooooooooow! My jaw drops as I see the shops, decoration and functionality of this great airport. No wonder Canada is a big country and land is vastly available. I fall in love with it immediately.
I approach one of the information counters and ask about the design. The lady there informs me that it has been renovated recently and I tell her how much I like it and how comfortable it feels.
There is a garden with some sort of vertical aquarium and a small lake dividing the terminal. Shops, cafes and restaurants are split around and they I realize that all the shops belong to the Spanish company ALDEASA.
Very impressive halls at YVR
The vertical aquarium at YVR
Immigration lines. One week ago it was empty
I spend some of my Canadian dollars in the duty free and they I get a pair of shoes which are heavily discounted at the Timberland store.
I go back to the AC
Maple Leaf lounge which does not look as nice as the YYC
one. Gates are as heavy though. Once inside I get a seat near the windows and I have something to eat before heading to my gate.
Entrance to the Maple Leaf lounge
My snack with a view
Dep. 16.15 /16.20
Arr. 10.20 / 9.25(March 24th)
Why walking along these great halls
passengers to HKG
My gate to FRA
My plane. She is being stuffed for this long flight
Some cousins sharing the D gates
As Premium passengers are called I head down the jetway and stopped by one of the six police officers there. As almost every time I have been to Canada I am asked about monetary matters. Do I look like I am taking more than CDN$10,000? Well, I start to think that maybe yes.
The jet divides in two and I am more than pleased to see that our equipment has changed to an A346 so I am still looking forward to keep my two seats at row 5. The map at check in showed an A343 and I changed my original seat, 1K, to a row with two empty ones. At the gate, 1L, I am welcomed by the crew and shown the way to my seat.
First sight of this beautiful plane
As soon as I take my seat and start my usual ritual of taking out my shoes the cabin crew comes welcomes me on board and takes my jacket and then offered the usual tray with Champagne, Orange juice and water. Needless to say I go for the sparkling. I realize something that disappoints me: there are no socks in my amenity kit. I tell the FA
and she brings me a new one fully stuffed. I remember the same thing happened two years ago on an IB
and they were not able to provide me with a new one.
First drink, seat and AVOD control system. All in one
Once boarding is finished I realize that I will have the row to myself which means I can move freely.
Doors are closed on time and five minutes later we are pushed back. I wave goodbye to our neighbors. D54, an AC772ER G-FAF, and D56, an Air New Zealand ZH-OKH
As we move along the runaway the safety demonstration is played both in English and German and gives some curious information about the amount of people that can go to the toilets on the lower floor in the Economy section, please no more than ten at a time; it has to do with the amount of oxygen masks available downstairs.
Safety demonstration being played on the overhead monitors
We are directed to the end of the runaway as it starts to rain, the engines start roaring and we get airborne very gently. Unluckily, the amount of clouds does not allow us to see any of the beautiful YVR
surrounding area. It takes about fifteen minutes to see the sun again.
Two seats to choose from. Great!
, radio, games....
Reading and safety card
Once the sun appears again the purser comes round with the menus. She is really nice and spends some time talking to passengers, I am not exception and we have a great talk about traveling, planes and Canada. I tell her how much I like it and I mention to her my favorite cities: Vancouver and Montréal.
The usual drink service is performed right away while dinner is being prepared in the galley.
Inflight map when crossing the Rockies
Nice view of the wing and the engines somewhere over North Canada
My first drink choice
North Canada sight
I go for a 'cubalibre' rhum&cola and the bag of nuts is nicely placed on my table which has been previously covered by a linen.
As I am still savoring my drink the FAs have already started the meal service. We are above Lake Athabasca. Having my next seat empty allows me to have both monitors on, I keep track of the flight in my neighbor's while I watch a film in mine.
Crew serving starters
The Captain informs us of our routing today: NE Canada, over Greenland, north of Iceland, over the Shetlands on the North Sea and entering mainland Europe over the Netherlands to head down to FRA
, all at 37,000 feet. Due to strong tailwinds we will have an early arrival, it turns out that we arrive almost an hour early.
.Seared Tuna with Fennel Salad (+)
.Prosciutto with Artichoke and shaved Parmesan
Salad mix presented with Dressing
My starter choice
My view while having the starter. Lake Athabasca
.Shrimp Massala with Pullao Rice
.Duck a l'Orange. Duck with Orange Sauce, Roasted Baby Potatoes and fresh Broccoli (+)
.Lemon Sage Gnocchi with Tomato Pesto, Romano Beans and Spinach
My entree choice. Nice canard à l'orange
.Brie, Cheddar and Monterey Jack Cheese
.Blueberry Cheesecake (+)
.Fruit Salad (+)
My dessert choice. Give me two
Coffee and Bailey's at 37,000 feet
The food is excellent although some of the Broccoli sprouts are slightly overcooked and they have started to disintegrate in the oven when heated. The quantities are a little scarce for my hunger but anyway I am pretty stuffed after two desserts.
Jacquart Brut Mosaique, France
White Wines :
.2006 Rheingau Riesling Qualitätswein trocken, Schloss Reinhartshausen, Germany
.2007 Chardonnay Vineyard Selection, Kleine Zalze, South Africa
.2003 Château Castéra, Crus Bourgeois Supérieur, Médoc, France +
.2005 Vegalfaro Tinto Crianza, Utiel-Requena, Spain
I take no risks here and go for the same excellent French red wine I had on my way here. I think I had the best choice.
Toilet with a view, plus flower
Yours truly during the night, as usual
The flight is totally uneventful. Not a single shake during it.
The Sun sets over North Canada and the Moon comes up on my side, big and round a really nice sight.
Short night to enjoy such a beautiful moon sight
Few hours later the sun starts to show again. As we fly over the North Sea an amazing sight comes into view. One of the islands, later I discover it is the Mainland, totally covered by snow and you can only notice the roads and what seems to be a small airport.
First sight of the day
Beautiful Orkney Island
Breakfast service is now ready; lights are turned on and we are served. Toilets get busy at this time of the day. Being a poor sleeper, I am ready with this business and hungry again. BTW, during the short night not many crew members have been walking around I have neither notice if there has been a bar service at the galley.
.Baltic Salami, Capicola, Brie and Cheddar Cheese
.Huevos Rancheros with sautéed Mushrooms and Asparagus Tips (+)
Crew performing the breakfast service
The first sight of Europe is the beautiful city of Amsterdam, unluckily some clouds prevent from seeing Schipol at its best.
The Netherlands coastline
You may be able to see Schipol at the top
Nice view of Amsterdam
Once over Germany many clouds cover our approach to FRA
The plane is prepared for landing with a straight approach from the East to the runaway. On our finals the clouds disappear and the sun shines on the airport.
Somewhere over Germany
Really clouds were low today
First sight of Frankfurt
A stadium near the airport
It is a soft landing. Full reverse and we turn right at the end of the runaway, we are directed to stand on the tarmac, which means a bus arrival to the airport. Good! I will be able to take some more pictures.
The all fans flight from LX
. I flew it my last time to GVA
Take a rest. Thanks for the flight
'Is anyone in there?'
We are driven to the lower level of Terminal B and after climbing some stairs I am able to use my passport automated control. There are no lines but I get to one of the two automated data recognition system. I place my passport on the screen and the first set of gates open, then I open my eyes so the machine can get a good sight of my iris and a second set of gates open to welcome me back into Europe. The area here looks pretty shabby and I get out of the airport to stretch my legs.
I start to feel tired and I get my second coffee of the day.
Schengen flights area
When I tired of going up and down the airport I get to the Agates area for the Schengen flights. I go through security and after walking quite a bit I get to the lounge. First I check the showers and I am told to write my name on a list and they will call me when a shower is available.
The lounge is not really nice. It is full, but luckily there is an empty table next to the bar which displays a low amount of food and some drinks. I get a banana, an orange juice and wait for my turn for the shower.
My best friend after such a long flight
The other side of the shower room
Once my name is called I go to the shower area where a lady directs me to shower 4. It is very clean, and I spend there the best moments of my trip since I left my comfortable seat on the plane.
Once fresh and with fresh clothes on I go back to the lounge where I get a Spanish newspaper, La Vanguardia, and read for a while until I decide to head to my gate, A38, one of the last ones in this area.
My plane to BCN
Gate area at FRA
Dep. 12.50 // 13.30
Arr. 14.45 // 15.10
Our plane is already there, a nice looking A321, and it seems it will be a full flight today.
The rear windows face directly on the apron and some nice planes go by, so I spend my last moments on the airport looking at some beauties: a A343Gulf Air with Formula 1 commercial passes by and then takes off in front of us.
Then comes this colorful MH
Boarding is called on time and as soon as the gates are closed it starts to snow; just some flakes at the beginning but it turns pretty heavy while the security demonstration is performed.
After seating for a while on the apron the Captain comes informs us that we will need to go through deicing which means we will be delayed for a while. The first announcement talks about 10/15 minutes but in the end we are about 40 minutes late.
I am very tired by now and I fall sleep till the engines start roaring. Snow is falling quite heavily but it does not affect our take off. We lift without problems and we are almost immediately into the clouds that takes us about ten minutes to abandon.
Legroom on LH
Lunch is served right away and we are informed of the strong winds we will encounter on our way to BCN
, so no toilet visit this time.
Food being served
My last food on a plane today. Notice real silverware is back
General view of the cabin at lunch time
On our way to BCN
we have a direct approach to the airport. The plane shakes quite heavily and it seems the pilots are eager to throw it onto the runaway. The descent is fast and you can really feel it as the planes shakes from left to right and down onto BCN
. We land very fast and full breaks are applied which makes the plane shake, even some of the bins open. That is a hard landing, let me tell you.
We are parked on a gate and as soon as the door opens I go to collect my luggage.
As usual priority tags are of no use and my bag comes out after waiting for five minutes, not bad at all.
It feels nice to be back home after such a long travel.
I hope you have enjoyed the reading.
It is your turn to add comments. Feel free to ask for any details you'd like to know about the trip.